There I was standing in a woman’s garage that I barely knew.
She was running a craft club for homeschoolers in our community and doing an amazing job at it.
As we chatted, she suddenly said, “Do you know of any co-ops that are not religious? I’m so tired of all these Christian homeschool moms around here talking about their religious homeschool groups.”
I looked at her a little blankly…because I am one of those Christian homeschool moms. I have been in no less than three Christian co-ops.
Apparently, she had assumed I was a secular homeschool mom like her, and I had assumed she was a religious homeschool mom like me.
Are you a secular homeschool mom trying to find her way on the long and kind of scary road of homeschooling?
Do you feel rejected by the Chrisitan homeschoolers and frustrated with trying to find an area your secular homeschool can fit into?
I know it can be frustrating as you try to navigate the curriculum and communities to find something that fits your family values. The large majority of it is laid out for the Christian homeschool family.
And I am totally one of those homeschooling Christians!
So Why Am I Writing a Guide for Secular Homeschoolers?
Because I am passionate about making homeschooling feel possible (and even enjoyable!) no matter what your religious beliefs are!
Most of this homeschooling blog is actually considered secular (faith neutral) because that was my vision from the very beginning.
So, I finally sat down and wrote out everything I could think about secular homeschooling that might be different from the typical religious homeschooling experience.
In the following secular homeschool guide, you will read about:
What Secular Homeschooling is (not as simple as you might think!)
Demographics and Statistics of Secular Homeschooling
How to Locate or Build Your Secular Homeschool Tribe
Identifying Secular Homeschool Curriculum
Popular Religious Homeschool Curriculum You Will Hear A Lot About
Whether a Secular Homeschooler Can Use Religious Curriculum and Vice Versa
The Biggest Challenge Secular Homeschoolers Will Face
What Does it Mean to Be a Secular Homeschool?
You would think that this would be obvious, but I have found that the definition can be a bit dicey.
The classic secular homeschooler is someone who is not homeschooling for religious reasons and does not want to include religious instruction in their homeschool.
Your secular homeschooling program will not mention God, Creation, Young Earth Theory, scripture, or prayer.
You will probably want your science curriculum to include the Big Bang Theory and evolution.
You will likely want to teach your child about world religions through social studies, but not put any emphasis on one over the other.
The lack of religious teaching, of course, doesn’t mean that you plan to homeschool your kids without high morals.
Don’t forget that there is also a subcategory of secular homeschoolers – those that are religious, but not necessarily Christian. You may be Hindi, Buddhist, etc., so your beliefs will likely not match up with what is in the Christian homeschooling curriculum that saturates the market.
Another secular subcategory is the Christian homeschool family that does not adhere to Young Earth Theory and believes that God caused the Big Bang theory and used evolution to create the world.
Yep, that’s a thing!
See what I mean about dicey?
Secular Homeschooling Demographics and Statistics
Thanks to the pandemic, homeschooling numbers are skyrocketing.
People who may have never considered trying homeschooling were forced into it and found out they really liked the flexibility and opportunities available with homeschooling. Suddenly, the taboo nature of it was lifted and anybody could try it without fear of being labeled a zealot or an extremist.
And no longer is the choice to homeschool isolated around religious issues. Parents are choosing to homeschool for health reasons, concerns over the safety of school environments, dissatisfaction with the school system, and disagreeing with curriculum/book choices.
More and more people of color are choosing to homeschool as they feel the public school system is not treating them fairly and/or the curriculum includes inaccurate history.
In fact, “A desire to provide religious instructions,” is now #4 on the list of why parents homeschool.
So, if you are a secular homeschooler, you are far from alone! People are leaving public schools in droves and looking for a better option to provide a secular education and meet their family’s needs.
You can also check out this 2021 Census Bureau article for the most up-to-date homeschooling statistics.
Where to Find Your Secular Homeschool Tribe of Moms
I know from close friends that getting into a homeschool community can be difficult in certain areas if your family is not religious.
Churches and other similar groups definitely have the monopoly on established homeschool meet-ups.
If I were in your shoes, here is a list of things I would start looking into:
- Search “Homeschool co-op” and the name of your town or other similar terms on Facebook for some local options
- Put your zip code into this HSLDA page
- Ask your local library and community center if they know of or host any secular homeschool groups or clubs
- Look to see if there are any WIld+Free groups in your area
Still Can’t Find Any Secular Co-ops Within a Reasonable Driving Distance?
I know this is a bit scary, but I would go onto any local community or neighborhood Facebook groups you’re in and say you want to host a purely social meet-up at a park for homeschoolers. The hope is that you will be able to put together a social co-op.
Yep, a social co-op.
Much less work and pressure than a structured academic (teaches core classes like math, writing) or enrichment co-op (teaches other subjects like art, music, or foreign language).
If the first meet-up is successful, schedule another one for the following week.
If you continue to have a good turnout, look into including field trips and maybe starting a more structured group the following year.
Yes, this is a lot more work and commitment than just joining an established group, but you will be helping the many moms coming after you who are looking for the same community.
Nope. I am Not the Kind of Person Who Starts Things Like That.
I hear you. That is a big job for someone who is just taking on homeschooling.
The best option for your student may be to explore online secular resources, such as Outschool.
There are a number of online co-op options that you can use to get your kid connected to other kids and involved in some enrichment classes.
Check out this post for a listing of some online homeschool co-op options!
Moving On – What Exactly is Secular Homeschool Curriculum?
You would think that this would be obvious too, but not exactly.
You can find “faith neutral curriculum” and secular curriculum that teaches evolution, Big Bang, etc.
Faith-neutral curriculum means that it doesn’t teach anything that would upset a religious or a non-religious person.
For example, a science curriculum that doesn’t address evolution at all. Or a history curriculum, that picks up in early civilizations and abstains from teaching anything about Creation, Big Bang, “millions of years,” or other theories.
So faith neutral is a curriculum that could theoretically be used by any homeschooling family and not offend or step outside of their beliefs.
A secular curriculum that teaches evolution, the Big Bang theory, etc. is one that denies the existence of God and goes a different direction.
As a secular homeschooling family, you are going to want to ask questions (especially for history and science) to make sure the curriculum you are choosing matches up with what you want your kids to learn.
Choosing a Math or Language Arts Curriculum Can Be Complicated For the Secular Homeschooler Too
If you are new to homeschooling, you may be surprised to know that faith-based curriculum can be found in just about every academic subject.
Just this week, I was doing a lesson in our language arts curriculum with my 2nd grader and we were asked to study a poem that was really a prayer thanking God for making everything. I was a little taken aback because I didn’t realize that the curriculum was faith-based.
Nothing I read about the curriculum had mentioned this, so I assumed it was faith neutral. Nope. The authors of the curriculum are Christians, so elements of Christianity are sprinkled throughout.
This is a plus for me but can be frustrating for secular homeschool families.
Believe it or not, math curriculum can also be taught through a Biblical worldview. One year we used a literature-based math program that was all about two homeschooled siblings in a Christian family.
Don’t worry, there are a lot of great secular curriculum options (which I’ll mention next) out there, but I just wanted to highlight the fact that even the least obvious of subjects may not match what you’re looking for.
Always do your research to make sure the curriculum you’re going to buy matches your homeschool needs.
Great Secular Homeschool Curriculums to Check Out
I know the number one thing that most homeschool moms are thinking about – secular or religious – is curriculum. All parents want to make the best choice in this area.
As I answer questions for my own readers, I have gotten to know several secular homeschool curriculum and used quite a few myself!
Below you will find a listing of outstanding secular curriculum. It is definitely not a comprehensive list, but is a great springboard for putting together your secular homeschool.
Oak Meadow – Complete Secular Homeschool Curriculum
Pandia Press – Includes Secular History and Science that teaches Big Bang, evolution, etc.
Moving Beyond the Page – Secular, but does include religious references in language arts in the upper grades as part of a rich literature curriculum
A Well Trained Mind – Does offer religious curriculum, but has many secular (faith-neutral) options
BookShark – Complete Secular Homeschooling Programs
WriteShop – Secular writing curriculum
Teaching Textbooks – Online classes for math with no prep work (a favorite of ours!)
Saxon Math – Popular workbook based math
Acellus Academy – Online School
Power Homeschool – Another Online School option
****The Detective Series is not a curriculum, but is a wonderful secular option or supplement for critical thinking in math and language arts. I have seen a lot of growth in my oldest child after using it over the past year. Check out Math Detective and Reading Detective.
For a longer list, you can check out more secular homeschool options here.
Popular Faith-Based Curriculum – Just an FYI
As you shop curriculum and meet other homeschoolers through social media, you are likely to come across a lot of curriculum names.
Here is a list of the most popular religious curriculum options out there.
My Father’s World
Horizons (math is faith neutral)
The Good and the Beautiful
Can Secular Homeschoolers Use Religious Curriculum?
Yes, it just depends on how willing they are to overlook and omit certain parts in the curriculum.
For example, BJU English is an outstanding curriculum, but it does have certain parts of assignments that mention scripture and Christian themes. It is by no means an overwhelming amount, so I think many secular families could still use it.
On the flip side, I have used supplemental Youtube videos, library books, and other resources, only to find that they teach about an Earth “millions of years old” or something similar that doesn’t match our beliefs.
I see that as a great opportunity for my kids!
I stop and talk to them about what they think about this, how it matches up with the Bible, and why other people believe these theories. It enriches our learning and prepares them for what they will face later in life when they come across people that don’t believe exactly as they do.
The same can be true for your homeschooler! I am sure they will encounter many people in life who have a different belief system, so digging down and talking with them about what you believe and what others believe can only be a positive for your homeschool.
So don’t think that all faith-based curriculum options are off the table for you. Just ask around about how adaptable it is and whether or not you can make it work for your school.
Can Religious Homeschoolers Use Secular Curriculum?
Another resounding yes!
I am a Christian homeschool mom, and I have used many secular (faith-neutral) homeschool curriculums. Story of the World History from A Well Trained Mind, is a great example of this.
The curriculum does mention some popular stories of the Old Testament, but they are told right alongside stories of Roman gods, Confuscious, Buddha, and other religious figures. One is not held above another.
I also love Noeo Science this year. It is written by Christians, but it is faith-neutral. We are currently learning lots about the weather, the water cycle, and clouds. There is no discussion about the perfect Design put behind all of these things. I have to add that in separately.
The Biggest Challenge for Secular Homeschoolers
This is just a heads up for the future, and will hopefully change with time.
There seem to be a decent amount of elementary and middle school curriculum options, but the high school level curriculum options are a lot thinner for the secular homeschool family.
I’m not really sure why that is, but I’ve seen a lot of chatter about it in homeschooling groups. A simple Google search for “secular high school homeschool curriculum” would confirm it. There is just not a lot there.
I wonder if the curriculum writers assume that the secular family plans to put their kids back into school at the high school level? I really don’t know.
Either way, if you plan to homeschool “all the way through,” I would encourage you to start early with searching for a high school curriculum that matches your family. That might be a live online academy, a self-paced video program, or an independent study textbook-based program. There are great options out there, you just may need to work a little more to find them.
Recap Secular Homeschooling
So you may see it as a bit strange that I am writing an informational blog post about secular homeschooling when I am not actually a secular homeschooler myself.
But if you read most of my blog articles, you would find that they are almost all faith-neutral. I want to help all homeschooling moms out there, regardless of what they do on Sunday mornings.
I wanted to write you this post as a “Welcome Letter” of sorts, giving you the inside track of homeschooling based on the years I have been homeschooling my own kids, meeting other homeschool families, and shopping through mountains of curriculum.
I hope you feel welcomed, included, and ready to take on the homeschooling life and get started with your school year!
Did I miss anything? Please feel free to share your questions, experience, grade level curriculum choices, secular materials, or supplement options in the comments below!
Keep reading for my step-by-step guide to getting your new homeschooling up and running!