Dr. Melissa Shipman, SPED Homeschool Partner Learnwell Home Education Collective
While homeschooling can often be a solitary endeavor for a parent, there are many reasons why all of us benefit from homeschooling in community.
Just like when we train for an athletic event or try to lose a few pounds, having people around us to support our journey is crucial. If there is no accountability outside of our own motivation, it is easy to get behind, have a bad week and push school to the side, or altogether lose sight of our educational goals and feel discouraged.
This is one of the primary reasons why homeschooling in community works. Knowing that your community is tracking with you is priceless! Knowing that there is another parent who is following the same curriculum and the same timeline or list of assignments provides instant accountability. You know that they are sticking to the same guidelines and subject matter. You know that if you have a particularly challenging day, you can reach out and ask for help from someone who is running the same race.
Questions come up.
Whether you are homeschooling for the first time or a homeschooling veteran, you will have questions. Maybe you need to find a new program or curriculum or need ideas for new teaching strategies. Unfortunately, when you are “going it alone,” it is easy to let your circumstances overwhelm you.
However, a community of like-minded parents gives you something you may not get on your own: a different perspective.
When a question pops up about how to keep a pre-K student busy while teaching your fourth-grade student math, another parent of similar-aged children can share tips. If you are both parents of third-grade students studying pictographs in social studies, then you can put your heads together for solutions when your children need more help.
In community, the sharing of ideas can ensure that speed bumps don’t become dead-ends.
Isolation is lessened.
Sometimes the choice to homeschool feels like a choice to step out of community. You may miss out on shared moments that revolve around a local school – unless you’re in a homeschool community.
As you exchange ideas, help, and encouragement, the parents who have students in that same grade become your friends.
The truth is that isolation becomes the perfect breeding ground for self-doubt. But over the past 15 years, opportunities for both online and in-person homeschooling community have grown exponentially.
Living in community can shed light on our fear and self-doubt. Homeschooling in community allows us to share our doubts and questions and fears, and receive help from those around us.
Laughter really is the best medicine.
Here’s the truth: sometimes what we teach today is not what we learned when we were in school. Whether it’s a new way to teach math or a variation for teaching prepositions, some teaching strategies change over time. This can be frustrating at your worst moment and hilarious at your best. Imagine texting a friend who is also finding a new math strategy a little tough to master. Laughter is almost guaranteed!
Homeschooling in community lightens your mood, and probably your child’s mood too. Laughter really can diffuse tension and stress in both you and your child. You have a sounding board, someone in the same proverbial boat, with which to share. We choose if we’re going to homeschool in isolation – rarely very funny – or share the journey with others and laugh sometimes along the way!
It’s ninety percent mental, ten percent physical.
It is said that when a person trains for a marathon, only ten percent is about the physical aspects of training, and the other 90 percent is about building mental fortitude for when your physical limitations kick in.
The same can be said for any endeavor that is spread across a long-distance or time. Even when you aren’t communicating directly with a fellow homeschool parent, understanding that your friends are in the trenches with you can be all it takes to keep going. Simply knowing someone else who is making her way through the same curriculum with her kids is often enough to help you power through a challenging week.
Celebrations are all the more sweeter.
Consider this: when you are cooking for one, and you master a particularly challenging recipe, who cheers for you? But when you are cooking for a family and you get it right (meaning everyone loves it!), you have your own little fan club.
In the same respect, homeschooling within a community is equally fulfilling when you triumph through a tough subject, or your child breaks through in his understanding of a concept that was once difficult. Who else knows what it’s like to teach your kindergartner the long and short vowel sounds? Who else would understand why you broke into your happy dance? The answer: a fellow mom who is rejoicing because she has been there too!
Children feel more secure.
Not all of the benefits of homeschooling in community are for parents!
While they may be too young to voice their feelings about it, even the littlest of your brood needs community. It could be that they are reading the same book of ABCs at the same time, or that they get to meet up for a playground date nearby, or that a child their age in a different country is learning about the same author.
When a child knows that there is someone else like him learning the same thing, it can be reassuring and bring hope, especially when the learning gets tough. Community gives a student the foundation of knowing he isn’t alone in learning all about fractions, even if the community is a virtual one.
Our kids need to know that other kids have actually mastered their multiplication tables. This can give them the extra boost they need to keep trying. Knowing this can also be the cushion on which they rest when a break is needed, knowing that when they return after a few days off, they aren’t starting over alone – there is a team of friends around them doing the exact same thing.