Thanksgiving is the month for gratitude. I started thinking not just about what to be grateful for, but to whom. That led to me to consider the people who are deserving of our gratitude as homeschoolers. There are specific ways we can express gratitude to bless these people in our homeschool circles.
Give Thanks to God
As a Christian homeschooler I always remember to be thankful to God for the privilege of homeschooling. That’s especially the case for me because homeschooling wasn’t my idea. God called me to homeschool even though I did not want to do it. I thought I would be so much happier as a writer and speaker and did not see how I could possibly homeschool. But here I am in my 17th year of homeschooling and I find myself more grateful for it every year. I don’t have time to list for you all the reasons that I am thankful to be a homeschooling mom, but I can tell you they are numerous. You might want to listen to the homeschool motivation on demand podcast episode. Gratitude always belongs first to our Heavenly Father but sometimes in the busyness of life as a homeschooling parent, we neglect to express our gratitude to other people. I have a list of other people whom we might choose to show gratitude to this month and every month.
Thank Homeschooling Pioneers
The first group of people I would argue we owe gratitude to is the men and women who bravely and sacrificially fought for our right to homeschool. This thought first occurred to me when I heard Zan Tyler speak at the 2:1 conference. She shared the legal battles she had to fight in order to homeschool legally in her state. By the time God called me to homeschool, homeschooling was widely accepted as a legal option. At the 2:1 conference I expressed my gratitude to Zan, but there are so many other pioneers in the homeschooling movement to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Whenever I have the opportunity, I want to take it and share with them how thankful I am that they made the sacrifice required for me to homeschool in freedom. I have never had my right to homeschool challenged. What a blessing!
Thank Homeschooling Advocates
The second group of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude is the men and women who serve as our pro-homeschooling legislators and lobbyists. If you’re anything like me, you like to complain about those involved in politics. But I recognize that without favorable voices in our government, our right to homeschool may not exist now and may not continue to exist in the future. While I believe in the importance of sharing our concerns with our legislators and lobbyists, I also believe in the importance of thanking our civil servants and promoters. We could write a letter with our children simply to say thank you for being a homeschooling advocate. I know that letter would be greatly appreciated. We can also thank these individuals by staying involved in politics. I’m going to be honest. I don’t love calling and writing my legislators. But if we all stopped doing that, we could lose our rights to teach our children in the way God has called us to. We express gratitude to the pioneers and political advocates by taking a few minutes every so often to voice our opinion.
Thank Homeschool Support Group Leaders
The third group of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude is the moms and dads who have founded and led homeschooling support groups in our communities and states. Without these organizations I know I would not have had the courage to homeschool. Not only would I not have had the information I needed to start homeschooling, but I would not have had the friendship support I needed to continue. I met the majority of my local homeschooling friends directly or indirectly because of my local homeschool support group. These hard-working men and women made sacrifices of their time and their families’ time so that you and I would be fully equipped to not only homeschool, but to thrive as homeschoolers. Every year my local homeschooling support group invites members to make a financial contribution to say thank you to its leaders. If your leaders are not adequately paid, I urge you to do the same. But a simple email or thank you note goes a long way to enable these fearless leaders to continue doing what they do.
A second way you can thank homeschool support group leaders is by volunteering. All the activities and resources they make available to us cannot happen without our help. Choose an activity or resource you are passionate about and offer your time. A third way you can thank your homeschool support group leaders is by attending field trips you sign up for. In my area, there are some educational sites who will no longer host homeschoolers because they know they won’t show up. What a terrible testimony! I know field trip organizers who have been frustrated and embarrassed by this behavior. We have great freedom in our homeschooling lifestyle, but that freedom should not be used to let fellow homeschoolers down or to make a bad impression on our community. Don’t sign up if you aren’t sure you can go on the field trip. Only cancel if it’s an illness or emergency.
Thank Homeschool Conference Organizers
The fourth group of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude is the men and women who organize homeschool conferences. Often the same people who run support groups organize conferences. If you have never planned a large event, you can’t imagine how stressful it can be. You have to try to keep three groups happy: the venue people, the exhibitors/ speakers, and the attendees. Often these three groups want different things! If I had not had homeschooling conferences to attend, it’s possible I would have quit homeschooling. The speakers convinced me that I was doing the right thing. They taught me how to keep my homeschooling sane. The exhibitors introduced me to materials that inspired me and my children. And the venue gave me an opportunity to see my homeschooling friends. I looked forward to conferences like a vacation! I even purchased fantastic gifts for my kids at them.
We can thank these hard-working men and women by first, attending conferences. We didn’t have the online resources and podcasts when I started attending homeschool conventions. But there are advantages of an in-person event even with those online resources. I plan to discuss these in a future podcast episode. For now, I will say that if you don’t attend, these events won’t be held. New, potential homeschoolers won’t see the size of our community, hear the encouragement, be able to ask questions, or touch the curriculum. Without in-person events, homeschooling numbers will shrink. After you attend a conference, you can thank these men and women by completing an evaluation. If you saw or heard something positive, whether it was a speaker or the helpfulness of a registration volunteer, share it. I try to remember this saying, “To think something positive and not share it is a sin.” I don’t know if that’s literally true, but I do know it’s a shame. Your positive comments and thanks will energize convention organizers all year.
Thank Homeschool Curriculum Publishers
The fifth group of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude is the curriculum publishers. I still get questions from people who know nothing about homeschooling. They want to know how I know what to teach. The authors and publishers of curriculum have taught me so much. I feel like I’ve had a second, superb education. They have taught me how to teach my children and have relieved the anxiety I had about homeschooling. And they also have taught my children one-on-one through curriculum that can be used independently. Some of the books these men and women have written are so dear to me that I may not be able to part with them when my youngest has graduated. As a curriculum publisher myself, I know the hours, the expense, and even the anxiety that is poured into materials that bless homeschooling families. Most homeschool curriculum is not published by a giant corporation, but by homeschooling families who support themselves with this work. Even the large publishers employ homeschoolers.
How can we thank them? First, write them. My son emailed Stanley Schmidt, author of Life of Fred, years ago. Stanley wrote back that the email made all the late nights and long hours of writing worth it. I interviewed Mr. Schmidt on The Homeschool Sanity Show. The second way we can thank homeschool publishers is to buy direct. Many homeschoolers do not realize that when you buy curriculum from discounters like Amazon, the publishers make a dramatically lower percentage of that sale. The discounter can make most of the money! Purchases from an online distributor are particularly discouraging to publishers who have invested great sums of time and money to exhibit at a convention. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you can purchase directly at the same or nearly the same price, honor these publishers who have blessed homeschooling by doing just that. Third, we can thank homeschool publishers by not violating copyright. Homeschool publishers as a whole are extremely generous. They offer discounted materials to homeschoolers, quantity discounts, and some of them even allow copying of materials for immediate family members. Not all materials may be copied, however. Check the copyright and ask the publisher. When we violate copyright, we are stealing, period. I have seen homeschoolers scan materials and make them available online for free. They seem to think they are providing a wonderful service, but they are stealing from a homeschooling family. We are also stealing when we share digital downloads we’ve purchased with friends or a homeschool co-op. Think of publishers as your friends, too. Encourage other homeschoolers to support homeschool publishers by purchasing from them directly. If we don’t, many publishers will stop providing the amazing materials we are blessed with.
Thank Homeschool Content Providers
A sixth group of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude is the homeschool content providers: bloggers and podcasters. Bloggers and podcasters have given me so many ideas and free resources over the years that have allowed me to provide my children with an excellent, inexpensive education. I can’t imagine homeschooling without them! Many content creators are responsible for people choosing to homeschool. But like curriculum publishers, they invest huge amounts of time and money to serve the homeschooling community. Blogs and podcasts aren’t free. We pay to maintain our websites, to create content, and to share on social media, to name just a few expenses. Blogging and podcasting are also very time-consuming. Most would make a lot more money working a job outside their homes. But those who blog and podcast for an income do so because they want to continue homeschooling.
We can thank them by commenting. Bloggers, no matter how popular they are, read their comments. Comments can make their day or crush it. If you enjoy something you read or hear, tell the content creator. You don’t know whether some mean-spirited person who commented has them wondering if they should quit. Second, share their content. The more people who read or listen, the more income that content creator can make or the more encouraged they are to continue doing what they do. Third, support them through your purchases. Many bloggers like me use affiliate links. Those links don’t cost you any more, but help cover the many expenses they have. The other thing you may not realize is that many bloggers’ affiliates are their homeschooling friends. When you purchase an affiliate product through me, I am triply thrilled. You have supported me, my homeschool publishing friend, and have purchased a product that will bless your family. If your favorite blogger produces a product you’re interested in, purchase it instead of Googling for a free version. Fourth, if you like a blogger or podcaster’s content, subscribe. Many people sign up to get a freebie and then immediately unsubscribe. Bloggers invest a lot of time and money into creating free resources so you will know the value of what they offer in a paid product. When we only grab the freebies and go, it’s like eating the samples at Sams Club without purchasing every time. A worker deserves his wages as the Bible says.
I want to end this post by expressing my thanks to you. I am not only blessed to be able to teach my children at home, but I’m blessed to be able to speak and write about this incredible calling. You have made this possible. I sometimes have to pinch myself because I’m doing everything I love to do.