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July 20, 2011

Homeschooling Promotes Social Integration

Children enjoy browsing textbooks.
Contributed Photo
Children enjoy browsing textbooks at the sixth National Conference on Homeschooling in Sofia, the capitol of Bulgaria.

by Radoslava Petkova

Editor’s note: Radoslova is a member of the board of the Bulgarian Homeschool Association.

The Bulgarian Homeschooling Association recently held its sixth National Conference on Homeschooling in Sofia, the capitol of Bulgaria. The interesting thing about this year’s conference was that for the first time, families considering homeschooling outnumbered those who are currently homeschooling! It is truly encouraging that interest toward homeschooling continues to grow, as more and more parents seek a solution to their problems with the current public school system in Bulgaria or plan ahead for their children’s education.

This year’s conference focused on several important issues, including the basics of homeschooling, the role of parents versus the state, and how to withdraw children from the public school system. The first series of lectures were given by Peter Porumbachanov and Eliyan Petkov, homeschooling fathers and leaders of the homeschooling movement in Bulgaria. These talks covered questions about the essence of homeschooling, its advantages over the public school education, and why homeschooled children are better prepared for the future. Many questions were asked about the practical aspects of home education and the role of the parents.

The second emphasis of the conference focused on the role of the family in the process of upbringing and education of the children. Stoyan Georgiev and Radoslava Petkova presented lectures on how traditional parenting is increasingly under the attack of the government. In Bulgaria, this is clearly visible in the goals of the European Union’s “Lisbon Strategy,” which addresses education. This international document does not even mention parents as an interested and involved party in the education of children. However, by showing positive examples from other EU member countries—such as the United Kingdom and Finland, for example—they demonstrated that it is in the best interest of children if the government respects the right of parents to direct the education of their children. Conference attendees were also informed about the persecution of homeschoolers in Germany and Sweden in order to understand the dangerous consequences of allowing the government to assume responsibility about the education of children.

Contributed Photo
Orlin and Tsvetie Raikov share their homeschooling experiences.

Many new families attending the conference had children who were already enrolled in public schools, so the third important topic of the conference explained how to withdraw children from the public school system. Personal testimony from Orlin and Tsvetie Raikov about their experience with the authorities was of great value and started a lively discussion about the different options for leaving the public school system.

Our children also eagerly anticipated the annual homeschooling conference. The children’s program included making a lapbook, embroidering, lessons in math, rhetoric, and history, and many games and opportunities to make friends.

Conclusions drawn from the sixth annual Bulgarian Homeschooling Conference were the need for broader cooperation between the families and the need for published materials in Bulgarian. The lack of Bulgarian materials is a real challenge for parents who are not fluent in English and cannot use English materials. This conference also disproved the notion that homeschooling is counterproductive to social integration—the current perspective of some European governments. Christian, secular, and Muslim families all attended the conference and are living proof how different social groups can work together peacefully, united by their common concerns about parenting, children, and education.