Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Back To Homeschool Checklist: Support System in Place

An important item on every homeschool checklist is a support system of some kind. No matter how committed you are to homeschooling, how much you enjoy doing it, or how long you've been doing it, there will likely be times when you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and maybe even ready to throw in the towel. That's when an understanding friend or mentor will be so valuable! 
Homeschooling is growing in popularity, and most people are somewhat familiar with it. In general, it's an education choice that doesn't meet with outright hostility any more, but it's not quite mainstream either. Not all homeschooling families enjoy the full support of their extended families, and many feel somewhat alone in the churches and friendship circles; and need the support and encouragement of a like-minded homeschooling community. 

A good support system starts in your home! Mom and Dad - you need to be on the same page with homeschooling! If one parent is all gung-ho about homeschooling and the other one is against it, there will be problems. You need to agree. Even if one of you is a bit skeptical or unsure, it is important that you are in agreement and partnership about homeschooling, just as with any other aspect of parenting. Don't work against each other. 
If grandparents and other extended family are supportive of your choice to homeschool - good for you! It seems like often grandparents are okay with the general idea of homeschooling, but worry when it comes to their own grandchildren. Thankfully, it also seems like they are quite willing to be won over as they see that the kids are learning to read and do math, and that they do have friends and are well-adjusted and happy. This is closer to my experience - in fact, I didn't find out that some of our extended family were skeptical of our choice to homeschool until many years into it and they confessed their initial worries and that their fears had been put to rest. I don't have advice from the frontlines for you if your parents/in-laws/siblings are openly critical or opposed to your homeschooling; except to say that it's all the more important that you and your spouse are united in the decision. You may need to set ground rules for the interactions your family has with those family members that are not supportive.

Find a local homeschooling group to participate in. These are the folks that live nearby, deal with the same state laws that you do, and they will understand what it's like. Maybe they even attend your church!  Depending on the type of homeschool oversight you have, your oversight group might be a wonderful support group as well. There are homeschool co-operatives and fellowship groups that may not provide oversight, but do provide plenty of opportunities to get together with other homeschool families, pool resources and knowledge, and help each other out. Find a mentor or two in the group, and be willing to be a mentor to someone who is newer to homeschooling than you are. My family is part of two groups - our oversight group and a fellowship group. They actually overlap a lot because most of the families in the oversight are also members of the fellowship group. I have known a lot of the moms since my early years of homeschooling, and our kids have grown up together. Those of us in the oversight group that actually do the job of checking portfolios and providing accountability to other families develop ongoing relationships with the families we supervise and with each other. There are a lot of mentor relationships that form there. The spring co-op classes have provided encouragement and friendships for kids and moms, as well as some extra classes. The fellowship group provides gym classes, field trips, and all kinds of events and activities that get kids and moms together. We even have an evening meeting once a month that is dedicated to the purpose of homeschool moms encouraging one another and sharing information and experience.
Virtual support systems can be valuable too! I've been a part of a couple of message board and email communities focused on homeschooling, and they have been such a blessing! They are not quite the same as having someone sitting in the same room with you, and a real shoulder to cry on, but there is the benefit of being able to read (or vent!) whenever it's convenient for you. I've developed some very good friendships with other homeschool moms through online interactions. Need inspiration, ideas, or sources of information? Homeschool bloggers and online forums are brimming with them, and with amazing variety. You might be one of only a couple of homeschoolers using a certain method or curriculum in your local group, but you can find lots of like-minded homeschoolers through blogs and online communities!

Speaking of homeschool bloggers, be sure to visit the other Crew members that are blogging about "Back to Homeschool" this week! You can see all the participating blogs listed at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog - or you can start by visiting the blogs I've featured below.
Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Check out these blogs for more Back to Homeschool ideas and encouragement:

Tara @ This Sweet Life
Laura @ My (re)Viewpoint
Alyson @ Family Style School
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Karen @ Tots and Me
Anne @ Upstate Ramblings
Julie @ Nurturing Learning
Beth @ Acorn Hill Academy
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Unknown said...

Great post! I agree having a support system is so important.

Unknown said...

So true! I'm thankful to have a supportive husband! I could not homeschool without his encouragement. I'm also thankful that both of our parents are supportive of our decision. The hard thing for me has been to find a local group. I opted not to participate in co-op this year and it can sometimes be hard to connect with homeschoolers in real life because it seems like everyone is so busy! I'm still working to build connections!

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