Category Archives for Gatherings

Want to attend a homeschool conference from the comfort of your couch?

By Grace Koelma | Editor of The Mulberry Journal

Just wanted to share about a great new homeschooling event coming up next month. It's all online, and it's free.

We've been to our fair share of homeschool conferences; it's where we've met some of our contributors and a few of our readers in real life.

But often we don't get as much out of them as we were hoping to. Maybe it's because it's all crammed into one weekend, with back to back (to back!) workshops, and not enough time to digest in the 13 minute break between sessions (because let's be honest, they never run on time either!).

Maybe it's the logistics of it all, but sometimes I feel like it would be nicer to listen to the speakers from the comfort of my own couch (instead of those squeaky, hard conference chairs). I like listening or watching a video at my own pace, and not feeling awkward when I need to zone out for a bit or grab a drink.

So what if you could attend a conference, where you could press the pause button whenever you wanted? Or could watch a live session and not feel guilty for popping to the kitchen for a cup of tea? What if you could attend talks and submit questions as they came to you, instead of waiting until the rushed 6 and a half minutes of Q&A at the end?

Now, what if I said you could listen to these live workshops with Aussie homeschool experts FOR FREE? Yep. Free is good, right?

Well, thanks to that thing called the Internet and a clever friend of ours, Kelly George (of Fearless Homeschool) you can attend a homeschooling summit in your ugg boots and trackie dacks.

The 2017 Australian Homeschooling Summit

The Australian Homeschooling Summit is a series of FREE live workshops with 13 Aussie experts, covering diverse subjects.

And they're all online, so you can watch from ANYWHERE. It will run over two weeks in May, so it's spaced out to allow the good bits to sink in.

You can find out all about the speaking topics here. I'll also be jumping in on the 26th May for a session talking about what I've learned over the course of more than 100 interviews with homeschool families from all around the world.

So here are the basic need-to-knows about the summit:

  • It’s running from the 15th to 27th May, 2017.
  • You need to register with your email here to attend the free video sessions.
  • While it's run in Australia, it's open to everyone worldwide. All you need is access to a computer and the internet.
  • If you can't make a time slot, the sessions are also free to watch for 24 hours afterwards, BUT they'll go away after that.
  • If you want to download the recordings so you can re-listen whenever you like, as many times as you like, you can purchase lifetime access (which includes a bonus bundle of epic downloads - we've thrown in Issue 7 of Mulberry, plus a whole heap more!)
  • Until the conference starts you get half price early bird rates on lifetime access, currently $44.50 (until the 15th of May). This is a fraction of what you'd pay for a "regular" homeschooling conference ticket, so it's a steal!

That's it! I look forward to 'seeing' you there! 🙂

Grace profile image square

Grace Koelma


Grace is the Editor of The Mulberry Journal and when she's not reading submissions, divides her time between hanging out with her simultaneously delightful and headstrong 2-year-old, running multiple ventures, writing and travelling full time with her little family. You can follow her travels at

Find your tribe: The importance of community for a homeschooling mother

When you're at home with the kids all day, and things start to take a spiral downward (it's always around 3pm!) it's easy to feel alone. It's actually in these moments that reaching out to your homeschooling community is so important.

By Barb Somervaille

Community. Camaraderie. Collaboration. Connection.

We all want to belong and feel understood. To know we are not alone.

It is so reassuring to meet other wholehearted mothers who share this home schooling road. Fellow companions for the journey. It is good to gather together in a caring, compassionate environment and be reassured we are not the only (crazy) ones living this marvellous home schooling life.

So many naysayers tsk about that question for our children.

“What about socialisation?”

Have you ever wondered about socialisation for the mother?

It does get lonely sometimes. We cannot commit to regular coffee mornings, Bible studies or playgroups on weekdays.

But I’ll let you in on a secret… We do get to have fun, too, you know. You can belong to a special group.

There have been times when I am surrounded by other mothers, yet feel alone. As I drive past mummies chatting in groups gathered at the school gate, in the playground or at church.

There are few who send their children to school who “get it”. Who can relate to the particular challenges and victories we encounter as we choose this lifestyle.

There is a specific need of encouragement for homeschooling mothers.

A special community has come alive through the pages of Mulberry Magazine.

We need to meet up in person. To connect in “real” life – not just online.

A support group can be something special to create a sense of community on a small local scale.

A couple of us started meeting together in Toowoomba one evening a month and now, 20 years later, we have a wide network of connection for Christian families in South East Queensland.

We have organised excursions for all ages and stages. We plan play-in-the-park meet ups which are a great way to welcome new families and a neutral place to meet newcomers expressing interest in homeschooling. We’ve had concerts, awards nights, graduation ceremonies and sports days.

We also have a wonderful network connecting mums together in smaller groups. We open our hearts and meet in a welcoming home to encourage one another.

A support group is supportive. We hold each other up. We cheer one another on and we pray for each other. We share the blessings and we share the struggles. We share resources. Especially books!

And sometimes we nibble chocolate and sip hot tea in a fine china teacup.

What are your needs?

  • Do you long to meet with other mums in a small evening group without the children? To have a cuppa and good conversation without interruption?
  • Would you like to meet mothers with young children to play in a park one morning a month so your children can be included in meeting new friends too?
  • Perhaps you would like a group based on specific learning styles such as classical education or Charlotte Mason’s method. Or you might wish to gather with fellow natural learners!
  • Maybe you want to start a co-op? Sharing skills and teaching resources occasionally to supplement your studies at home with older teens?

The best way to start a group is to find just one like-minded friend and ….start!

Set aside a time and place. The same goes for excursions. Decide on an activity your family really wants to do. Spread the word, invite others and even if only you and your friend show up, you will have an encouraging time that is worth the effort.

It will grow and expand into something special as you care for each other. Prayer and practical help in times of illness or family crisis. Meals for mothers with a new baby or for a family moving house.

It is a relief to share struggles in a safe environment where we won’t be placated with the short sighted advice to “just send them to school’.

And it's a space to learn together, too​

We have had input from DVDs, podcasts, book club style studies and different mothers leading discussion on topics ranging from ‘”organisation” to “what to do with pre-schoolers while you teach reading”. We have evenings where each brings a favourite resource.

One excellent resource that has been a hit with us was Sarah Mackenzie’s book “Teaching From Rest”.

Sally Clarkson is a wonderfully wise mentor through her books, such as “The Life Giving Home”, and resources from Whole Heart ministry. The annual Mum Heart Conference is based on Sally’s Mom Heart conference.

Sometimes it is wonderful to gather together for input and inspiration in a beautiful big group.

That is the vision of the annual Mum Heart Conference. It’s like a morale boosting ‘Professional Development’ weekend!

For affirmation. To feel valued and validated. To cheer each other on, laugh and just maybe cry a little as we share our stories.

We can comfort and console each other as we swap ideas and brainstorm strategies to manage this wonderful, enormous challenging and fulfilling career!

If you're interested in finding a community, I'd love you to get in touch:

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Barb Somervaille


Barbara and her husband Andrew live in Queensland, Australia and have been busy raising and homeschooling their eight children over the past 28 years. While Barb feels like she has been homeschooling forever, she is on the home stretch now with the younger children aged 15 and 11. You can follow Barb on her blog Quiet Sonbeams.

Host your own Mulberry Mama Meet

Want to host your own Mulberry Mama meet up? They are free events, designed to get like-minded mamas together. Read about them here.

Mulberry Mama meetup Perth March 2017 table display

Photo: Light Heart Photography

Want to host a Mulberry Mama Meetup in your local area?

We'd love seeing gatherings of like-minded women happening all over Australia (where Mulberry started) and stretching to the corners of the globe. You can see a wrap-up of our first Mulberry Mama meet up in Perth, Australia here.

Register your interest with the form via the button below.

Recap: Mulberry Mama Meetup in Perth

Grace Koelma (left) and Perth hostess, Jess Pilton.

Photo: Light Heart Photography

On the 19th March 2017 we hosted our very first Mulberry Mama meetup in Perth, Western Australia. Ever since we founded the Mulberry community, we've been hoping to have a IRL (in real life) event. While connecting online is an incredible way to meet friends on the other side of the world, and find assurance and hope in the journeys of other likeminded families, meeting in real life is something else!

Our hostess for the first #mulberrymama meetup was Perth local Jessica Pilton (@jessica_pilton on Instagram). Jess was able to connect with mums from her homeschooling co-op and invite them to our intimate little gathering. 

Interested in hosting a #mulberrymama meetup in your local area? Submit your expression of interest here:

Grace Koelma (left) and Perth hostess, Jess Pilton.

I arrived a few days before the event (meeting Jess for the first time after a year of chatting online and working together on the first Mulberry Magazine digital issues) and we set about planning the decorations and food.

We were blessed with beautiful weather and very little wind (rare for Perth!) and the sweet gathering of women around a rustic pallet table in Whiteman Park was a time of wonderful encouragement, honesty and laughs. And man, was there some yummy food! Thanks ladies!

Here are a few more photos of the meetup, photographed by Cat Timms from LightHeart Photography.