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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Support

A little over two years ago, fed up with having the same conversation with a myriad people over the course of a week, I staged a small "homeschool open house" in my living room. The idea was simply that interested parties could paw through my resources, comb my bookshelves and copy down catalog names all at one time, therefore sparing me from answering the following questions every time I opened my front door:

  • Do you homeschool all of your kids? (Yes--but I only have three of them. I know folks who homeschool a houseful, and those who homeschool their onlies.)
  • What curriculum do you use? (Sonlight)
  • What do you use for Language Arts? (Depends on the age and the child.)
  • What do you use for math? (Mostly Math-U-See, but see answer above.)
  • How do you do science experiments at home? (Very carefully.)
  • What activities do your kids participate in? (Depends on the child and the season.)
  • How do you teach a child to read? (The same way you teach them to walk--by example, then through experience.)
  • What’s your favorite resource for (fill in the blank)? (Depends on what said blank is filled with.)
  • Where do you buy (fill in the blank)? (See answer above.)
  • How do you like (fill in the blank)? (Ditto.)
  • What do you do when you don’t know how to teach something? (I learn.)


These conversations seemed to naturally develop every time I opened my mouth in public. While I ran into my share of horrified onlookers, I found that the vast majority of people asking about homeschooling were genuinely curious. A small portion was even interested enough to ask if we could get together and talk about the topic. It was those people that I invited to my open house.

Our first gathering was, if memory serves, five women crouching around my coffee table scoping out catalogs and firing off questions that I could sometimes answer, and sometimes not. After that initial meeting, I hosted two or three more such super-informal nights of homeschooling info. After each one, it seemed a new convert to the adventure was won. I was elated.

Over time, it became obvious that these people I had begun the work of mentoring in needed a bit more regular support. Again, it was easier to just keep inviting them all together rather than have coffee with each one of them on a monthly basis. I like coffee as well as the next girl, but I don’t think Mr. MG would be thrilled to be donating so much $$ to the cause of Starbuck’s global takeover process. We began meeting bi-montly, rotating locations between the homes of attendees and bringing snacks. It was a humble beginning, but a beginning nonetheless.

The group has grown by leaps and bounds. What started as “my” little support network has expanded to include other experienced homeschoolers, plenty of newbies, and families totalling approximately 37 children. We meet monthly, and are in the process of putting together our first official schedule of speakers and topics. Several members have asked repeatedly for a group-sanctioned co-op morning. Meaningful connections are being made between like-minded women.

We are still at the point where a meeting might well mean three women gathering over brownies and coffee (that was November) or eight moms sitting on my family room floor (that was December), but all the same, I am blessed to see this thing moving well beyond me and becoming a lifeline for those who need support.

To those of you who eschew the group setting in seeking encouragement for your homeschooling journey, let me say that I am not typically someone who seeks out companions to travel with. If the Lord had told me to go and join a support group for homeschoolers, I would have kicked and screamed and put Jonah to shame with my bullheadedness. Knowing this streak in me, He instead led me to a place where a group formed around me and robbed me of any excuse to run. I am so grateful He did.

I have been humbled and honored to read some of the responses I am receiving from a survey I sent out asking questions designed to shape our group into something that best meets the needs of its members. Several people have commented on how we have been instrumental in keeping them afloat during rocky periods in their homeschool, or how a resource mentioned at a meeting was perfect for them, or how they look forward to the encouragement they receive on that night more than anything else in their week. God’s hand seems so present to me when I read these responses; this isn’t the work of one woman alone, or even of a group of well-meaning women. It’s the long, cool drink of water that comes from the Lord--refreshing us through fellowship with the friends He has set on our path.

2 comments:

SmallWorld said...

That is a wonderful story. What a great example you have been to these families. If only more veteran homeschoolers were as willing to help out!
SmallWorld

~ Angi :) said...

OH, MG! A treasure trove of pen and ink tonight! I've been moved, both to quiet reflection and to laughter more than once, in ONE post! LOL

Beautiful.

Can I come?

:P

(I'll leave the antlers on the table. I promise.) :D