Supporting Homeschoolers Worldwide
With the growing number of families struggling through the difficult terrain of homeschooling in other countries, the Home School Foundation has been blessed with increasing opportunities to help through our International Homeschooling Fund.
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For instance, the Jansens (name changed to protect privacy), residents of the Netherlands, encountered unexpected difficulties from the government when they tried to adopt a second child—merely because they chose to home educate the first child they adopted.
In April, HSF helped fund a trip for HSLDA Legal Assistant Leah Dobler and Sandra Lovelace of Lifework Forum to take resources and encouragement to homeschooling families in several European countries. They stuffed their suitcases with as many books, brochures, and resources as they could fit.
“It is legal to homeschool in the Netherlands, but it can be difficult to navigate the process,” said Dobler upon her return. “It can also be difficult to obtain curriculum, especially Christian curriculum. Secure shipping is unheard of and additional tariffs are common. Families will often pass their used materials around to other homeschooling families.”
Dobler and Lovelace met with several homeschool co-ops in the Netherlands and Hungary, and Lovelace continued on to Albania and Norway. Another aspect of their trip was administering tests for homeschool children in Budapest.
“Homeschoolers in Hungary have to meet the standards of their school district, which can mean very arbitrary regulations and random, sudden testing,” Dobler said. “One family I met told me about a time their friend’s 8th-grader was called in with no warning, to find a panel of teachers from every subject lined up who began asking her questions—regardless of grade level—until the child could no longer answer them."
Some Hungarian homeschooling families, however, are blessed to be part of an umbrella program at a private school that provides the paperwork required by the government. Lovelace regularly visits Budapest to administer standardized tests, taking them back to the United States to be graded, and then returning with the results and counsel for the families on areas of strengths and weakness.
“The school administration trusts Sandra and is comfortable letting her hold the families accountable to provide the official grades they need,” said Dobler. “On the homeschool side, Sandra is an American homeschool pioneer, whose knowledge and understanding are a major support to the families.”
The encouragement Lovelace and Dobler brought was extremely valuable to the families—who often report feeling isolated in their homeschooling journey. “These mothers will drive hours to be with homeschoolers in other parts of the country, and many of them are thankful just to have someone to correspond with over email about homeschooling,” Dobler said.
The Foundation ran into similar stories recently from a different part of the world, when it helped fund a homeschool conference in Pachuca, Mexico, this past March.
“Homeschoolers in Mexico are hungry for support,” said Dave Tucker, a board member of El Hogar Educador, the homeschool ministry that hosted the conference. The Pachuca conference had over 900 attendees (640 families) from five different countries, including Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru—this for a conference that was only advertised twice in a Latin American homeschool magazine!
“If it were not for the Home School Foundation, this conference would not have happened,” Tucker said. Although the Mexican government gave the conference free use of a building, El Hogar Educador was still short on funds.
“We said we would do it if God provided the funds and the funds weren’t there, so we were mentally backing off and moving on,” said Tucker. “Then we contacted HSF, and they stepped in with the funds necessary to make it happen and give us that final push.”
El Hogar Educador has been hosting homeschool conferences in northern Mexico for the past 14 years. This was its first conference in central Mexico; the ministry has plans to expand the conferences to southern Mexico and other Latin American countries.
“Homeschooling in Mexico now is similar to what it was in the United States 30 years ago,” Tucker said. “People feel very isolated. They believe this is what God wants them to do for their family, but they don’t have a lot of support. They are very hungry for knowledge and support.”
|About the author
Cherise Ryan Curby is the Home School Foundation website project manager and editor.
From the Director
With homeschooling in its infancy in such places as Europe and Mexico, we see both challenges and opportunities ahead.
The legal hurdles are the first difficulties and seem to be the most challenging to overcome. But isolation and discouragement are also significant obstacles that can make homeschooling difficult to sustain.
With these challenges in mind, HSF helps homeschoolers in other countries establish their own support groups. We look for ways to give them encouragement and help them with legal struggles. Progress is slow, but our assistance is so very important to these groups and the families they serve.
If you feel burdened to help, we encourage you to pray for these groups and their families. And, if you’re able, we invite you to consider a donation to the HSF International Homeschooling Fund. We appreciate all you do to help us encourage fellow homeschoolers here and abroad.
—Chuck Hurst, Executive Director
For more details on how you can help, please call HSF at 540-338-8688, visit the Home School Foundation website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.