When you first start to think about the idea of homeschooling you’ll find that you can’t stop talking about it. Poor Hubbies get the brunt of it but they’re not always home so you venture to share your grand plans with friends, colleagues and family. Big mistake (well most commonly).
If you are looking for a place to bounce your homeschooling ideas, non-homeschooling and particularly extended family, are usually not the best place to start. There will be little ‘bouncing’ found there. Their instincts are usually to squelch the idea as quickly as possible, at a time when you are very vulnerable and this undermining conversation can bring your homeschooling plans to a sudden and dramatic halt.
So who do you talk to? Hubbies are a great place to start of course. You can’t make a decision without them. But once you’ve worn him out, which happens rather quickly when you first start winding up and sharing about homeschooling, who do you share your overflowing thoughts, questions, concerns and homeschooling dreams with?
I would suggest you share with other homeschoolers. They will understand your obsession with the topic, and enjoy your conversation with tad of nostalgia from when they first started out. They can also answer and address your questions and concerns honestly and with some authority, unlike your family and friends whose first instinct is to talk you out of this ‘heresy’ and ‘insanity’. If you are really looking for support, and not just someone to talk you down off the cliff, then another homeschooler is usually a great choice.
But you don’t know any homeschoolers?! Well this is a good time to get to know some. They will be a vital part of the success of your homeschool. You need other homeschoolers around you – to support you, to validate you, to share with you, to learn from and of course to socialise with. The beginning of your homeschooling journey is a great time to find yourself a supportive circle of like-minded homeschooling friends.
Where will you find these homeschoolers to connect with? Find them wherever you can. Reach and connect wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. Go hunting in the ‘Support Contacts‘ area of the Home Education Association website (HEA – Australian Homeschooling organisation). Arrange to attend a nearby (or even distant) homeschooling group. Ask those homeschoolers if they know of other groups. Arrange to attend those too. Contact some of the individuals listed on the HEA website. Be conscious that they will be busy teaching and try to choose a less busy time of the day to call. Personally I prefer emails as it allows the receiver to answer at their leisure and at a time that suits. Individuals may also know of other homeschooling groups. Tap into their wealth of knowledge.
You might find that there aren’t a vast number of homeschoolers in your local area and you have to travel a little to connect with them. It is truly worth the effort to make the connection. You might have to try several times before you find a group of ladies who you feel comfortable with. Homeschoolers are human and just as varied as ‘normal’ folk. It has taken me a number of years to sieve through and locate my treasured and dearest homeschooling pals, and on the way I met a multitude of other lovely ladies as well.
Email contacts are also valuable. Homeschoolers are usually very welcoming and happy to communicate back and forth. Ask them questions and strike up a conversation. Each homeschooler was once at the same point and they can relate to your need for connection and support. Reach out for support from those who know the path you’re about to embark on.
With this support, then you can go to family and friends with confidence and ‘tell’ about the decision your husband and you have chosen. Yes, ‘tell’. Unless you truly want their opinion, which will almost certainly be negative and fearful, ‘announce’ your intention with love. Accept that they will, most commonly, instinctively oppose the idea. However, if you have already firmly made up your mind, you’ll be better able to let the criticisms roll off you like a duck’s back. Try not to let it create a drama and avoid in engaging in a battle. Listen, without debate, and let them have their say, which they most certainly will, and leave it at that. I believe we ended our family discussion with, “Oh well, that’s what we’re doing.” In time, with your strength, determination and growing confidence, you may well see a transformation in your friends and relatives. They may actually come to see this homeschooling thing as a good thing. Mine did.