As a homeschooler, do you ever feel like you are a loner? I did for a long time. Recently however, I found a group of like minded local homeschoolers that I am really enjoying getting to know.
Before I found this group and for the past few years I have been developing a relationship with Gretchen, one of my good teacher friends. We have regular chats, mostly over Facebook, that are of great benefit to each of us in life and in schooling. I cannot say enough how much the support system has meant to me. We take turns sharing our concerns, asking for ideas as to how to accomplish a task, and then offering help when we can. We have jokingly called our chats “faculty meetings”. That makes what we do sound so important, right? (Good, because it is!)
I asked Gretchen to share some of the benefits of our chats that she has found. I thought her response was just about perfect, so I will let her speak for the both of us.
I think our Facebook chat faculty meetings are important for several reasons:
1. Collaboration- It is valuable to get someone to help find solutions to your academic needs. If I mention that I want to start teaching Greek and Latin root words for vocabulary development, then Debbie starts searching and sends me the links she finds. If she mentions wanting to find some hands on math activities, then I start searching and send her what I find. We find together much, much more than we would ever find alone.
2. Organization- I’m a little A.D.D. I want to do it all, and talking over my plans and ideas with Debbie helps me to eliminate the unnecessary and focus on what will really help my students learn. We regularly reassess what we think we know. We read about the latest and greatest, and are able to compare what we already have at hand and make an informed decision.
3. Friendship/Grown-Up time– Homeschooling can be isolating. Having someone to chat with regularly is a blessing. We don’t always talk about school stuff. Our chats are notoriously a hodge-podge of topics and issues. It’s great!
4. Shared Experience– Even though we are both certified teachers, our experiences are radically different. Debbie taught in a private school classroom before staying home to teach her own children. I taught for 15 years in a public high school (a Title 1 school) before quitting my job to open a private homeschool. My own children are in school because I just don’t think God is directing me to stay home and teach them just yet, and I teach between 6 and 8 students. Our schools are very different, but our goals are the same: effectively teaching our students. Our different experiences combine to give us a multitude of options to almost every situation we encounter. Between the two of us, we have basically tried it all, and know what our options are!5. Honesty- Sometimes one of us will have a crazy idea. It’s the job of the other one to say, “Ummmmm, Are you sure you want to do that? What about…..? Maybe you should try this instead……” Ultimately, it’s still our decision to make, but having someone play devil’s advocate REALLY makes you check yourself. It makes me ask myself the hard questions……”Am I doing this only because it’s easier? What’s the real goal here? What would be the most effective way to teach this skill?” We have both saved ourselves some stress by asking the hard questions!
A friend or small group of friends is so very important in this journey. I am learning this more every day. Homeschooling with support is tough. Homeschooling without support is much harder. I am very thankful for the friends that God has brought into my life recently.
You can see my friend Gretchen at her Summit Learning Center Facebook page where she documents some of her private homeschooling experiences.