Professional Development for Homeschool Parents

One of the things my homeschool group has done, albeit extremely sporadically, which I’ve really enjoyed, is a homeschool book club for the parents.  We pick a homeschool-related book then get together to discuss for a couple of hours.  In the past, we’ve read books suggested by various members, including The Well-Trained Mind and The Skylark Sings for Me (so, so different, those two books!).

It can be enriching to read a book solo.  It can also be enriching to have a conversation, but when put together, for me, it feels like it reaches some critical level to qualify as “professional development.”  Sure, there are homeschool conferences, but they always seem to happen when I can’t attend or aren’t really with the sort of homeschoolers that are my cup of tea.  However, I really need some level of stimulating thinking about education and teaching, specifically home education in my life.  I know I stagnate without it.  There’s something so homeschool to me about calling a book club professional development.  A bit like calling that time when you read to your kids in bed “language arts class.”  So that feels appropriate.

Our last book was Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Wheldon.  I didn’t love it, but I definitely got something out of it.  It seemed to be written in part for prospective homeschoolers and in part for homeschoolers trying to figure out how to move away from an “academic rigor” approach.  I didn’t agree with everything she said, but it made for a nice conversation starter.  I’m constantly straining for some magical balance between structure and freedom, in homeschooling, parenting and life in general, so reading things from either side (this one from the freedom side, but not in a radical way) helps keep me in check sometimes.

Of course, for the book club, we enjoyed talking about the book, but we also enjoyed homemade cookies and wine (no, really, someone brought homemade wine – is that not awesome?), anecdotes about children and catching up with people not seen in a little while.  That’s way more fun than proper professional development anyway.  Kind of like how homeschool is more fun than school.

7 thoughts on “Professional Development for Homeschool Parents

  1. You know what?! This is a fantastic idea. I do attend a book club with homeschool moms, but we read books which is still fun. I like the idea of professional development with fellow homeschool moms.

  2. Sounds great, especially with the cookies and wine thrown in :) Maybe you can update here when your book club is reading a new book ? I’m always looking for suggestions.

  3. I really enjoyed “Free Range Learning”. I think it helped me gain confidence to back away from a structured “school-at-home” approach. One of the contributors to the book wrote something that really struck a chord with me and my husband. Something to the effect that many people homeschool to keep there kids sheltered while others homeschool to open the eyes of their kids to the world around them.

    I am jealous of your homeschool book club. I’m afraid my group would only consent to a Bible study (definately no home-made wine allowed). BTW – I truly enjoy all of your posts on SHS. You are a fabulous resource for me! I love your book suggestions, curriculum ideas an over-all knowledge of homeschooling. Thanks.

  4. Hi! I’m a public school teacher. I happened upon your site while searching for the types of professional development opportunities homeschoolers attend. Can you offer me some insight on whether homeschoolers would be interested in receiving ideas and strategies from school teachers? Thanks for any feedback ANYONE can give!

    1. I can tell you that the majority of homeschool parents only do “professional development” through homeschool conferences and through informal things like what I described here. You can search homeschool conferences and find the sort of workshops and presentations offered there (there are a wide variety of types of conferences out there). I’m sure some people occasionally attend parenting or education lectures in the community, but I’ve never heard of any homeschool parents attending the type of professional development things that I attended during my school teaching career. The types of information homeschool parents need is usually really different from school teachers – especially public school teachers. The parameters of control we have are just really different, as are the materials we use, the types of “classroom” management issues, and so forth. I value the bag of tricks I picked up teaching in schools, but I’ve learned more about homeschooling from homeschoolers than from my time teaching in schools.

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