Asked what they know of homeschooling, most people still describe evangelical Christian parents doing their best to shield their children from a secular world view. With The Duggar Family still making headlines, this is the most common face of homeschooling.
Yet the homeschool community is changing. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, orHSLDA, secular homeschoolers are a significant 25 percent of the total homeschool community. Despite this, resources for this minority within a minority are geared toward Christian education with A Beka Book,Bob Jones and Sonlight leading the way. A Google search for homeschooling support turns up far more Christian resources than inclusive or secular ones, many demanding statements of faith. This leaves many atheist homeschoolers and even those religious families choosing to educate using secular materials feeling less than welcome in the larger homeschool community.
Even with secular resources much more readily available than they were ten years ago, finding a welcoming group is no easier than wading through mountains of religious texts and activities to cobble together a curriculum in keeping with the secular family’s beliefs. With so many non religious parents stepping into the role of educator, the group has reached a point of organization.
The newly formed National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers offers a voice to homeschoolers choosing this controversial educational option for reasons other than religion. As stated on their web site, N.A.S.H. intends to “Provide a national framework of structure, support, and connection for those homeschoolers who identify themselves with secular homeschooling and as a by-product create a demand for secular curriculum and other materials that cater to secular homeschoolers…”
In keeping with this promise, N.A.S.H. has an inaugural conference slated for Sept. 4, 2014 in Atlanta, Ga. Alongside vendors including Pandia Press and Build Your Library selling homeschool related goods, attendees can expect activities for children, workshops and an opportunity to lend expertise and opinion to the first planning session of N.A.S.H.
While other conferences of this type do exist, N.A.S.H. offers a future, unifying force for secular homeschoolers, perhaps giving them an influential voice in political and social arenas affecting homeschoolers.