So you’ve been homeschooling for a while, and your inbox is chock-full of new and potential homeschoolers seeking advice and perspective. While homeschooling has been steadily increasing in popularity for many years, 2020 looks like it’s about to go down as the year of the homeschooler.
You may be wondering how you can best support and help those reaching out to make the best decisions for their families. Here are a few ideas.
I don’t know any homeschooling parents who took the decision to homeschool lightly. Do you? When we’re working through a big decision, a lending ear is often the most helpful form of support.
Listening is a skill, and this is a great opportunity to sharpen yours. Listen not to respond, but to understand. It may be tempting to unleash a boatload of resources upon them, but unless they specifically ask for resources, allow them to do most of the talking. Have compassion for their hopes, fears, and goals for their unique family.
Allowing them to verbalize their thoughts—and sharing your own experiences where appropriate—will offer both comfort and clarity.
Parents deciding to homeschool at this unique time may be coming to this decision in an entirely different way than you did. For some, the events of this year were just the push they needed to do what they’ve been wanting to do for some time. Others, though, never thought in a million years they’d consider something like homeschooling, yet here they are.
Some parents are familiar with the vast amounts of resources and educational approaches available to homeschoolers; some are looking to simply mimic their school’s curriculum and enroll their children right back in next year. And, of course, there are countless varieties of circumstances in between.
Whatever the case, hold compassion in your heart and welcome them into the world of homeschooling. The last thing a nervous, new homeschooler needs to encounter is judgment for their approach or understanding. Everyone is doing their very best to do what’s right for their children. Anyone taking this leap is summoning all the bravery they’ve got. Welcome them all with open arms and root for their success.
You may be cleaning out old curricula, resources, and other homeschool supplies at this time. If you have materials that might be useful to a new homeschooler in your community, consider offering them as a gift. Perhaps there’s a local homeschool group or co-op looking for extra supplies as well. Small gestures of support can be both helpful and encouraging to a new homeschooler.
Invite Them Along
If there are in-person or even virtual outings, meetups, or group classes for homeschoolers in your community, invite the newbies along. You know they’re worried about “socialization.” Opportunities to meet fellow homeschoolers are sure to be appreciated.
Share Your Struggles
Not every homeschool day looks like a page out of Mary Poppins, am I right? Don’t forget to share your struggles, along with the many blessings of homeschooling. Homeschoolers tend to feel like they’ve discovered a magical formula they want to share with every parent they know. But of course, it’s not all roses. Sometimes the kids hate math, and sometimes the house is a disaster, and sometimes Mommy hides in the bathroom sobbing with a chocolate bar.
Think back on your first year homeschooling, and assure the newbies that no matter how many times they feel like they need to scrap everything and start over, no matter how many times they feel like they’re ruining their children, no matter how many times they wonder how they ever convinced themselves they could do this—we’ve all been there. This is a huge leap of faith and the rewards at the end of this bumpy journey are worth it.
Keep in Touch
While homeschool is picking up enormous steam, it’s still the road less traveled, which can feel lonely. Reach out to the new homeschoolers you know and check in on them from time to time. The smallest gestures are often the most meaningful.