Neighborhood Schools

In our city, like many, there are no "neighborhood schools." While parents can specify school preferences, students are assigned to elementary schools to ensure demographically diverse schools. I think this policy is actually a huge advantage for urban homeschoolers.

I was asked recently by prospective homeschoolers if it was ever difficult to "convince" friends and relatives of our decision to homeschool. In our case, fortunately no, but I know many homeschoolers struggle with this. Homeschooling friends of mine who live in more suburban communities with well-defined neighborhood schools face much more social pressure and interrogation than we city-dwellers. Often neighbors move to a specific area to attend a specific school and in some cases much of the neighborhood community revolves around school activities. I think it would be much harder to homeschool in those close-knit communities than it is for us here where most of the kids in my neighborhood, for example, attend different public elementary schools or different private schools.

I think city schools also get a sometimes unfair bad rap, and so it's more accepted that city parents might choose an alternative schooling option for their kids, whereas elsewhere questioners would be simply perplexed that parents wouldn't send their kids to the neighborhood schools, particularly in "nice" communities with "good" schools.

So in general I think we city homeschoolers face much less social pressure and fewer negative reactions than our suburban counterparts, which makes things a bit easier for us. But all of us, urban or suburban, choose to homeschool for many of the same reasons, like the freedom, flexibility and focus on personalized learning that homeschooling provides. It's these important educational attributes that should give us confidence when responding to critics and skeptics alike. And finding local homeschool support groups and/or activities with other homeschoolers can really help to highlight the merits of homeschooling and weaken the blow of naysayers.