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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.