Welcome to our October “31 Days” series at NextGen Homeschool: 31 Days of Homeschool How-To Tips! As NextGen Homeschoolers, we remember what it was like to be homeschooled ourselves, and our experiences as students have helped shape many of our best systems and strategies today. In the next 31 days, we’ll be sharing with you what’s working for us, answering the most common questions we get from today’s first-generation homeschooling moms.
How to Find Homeschooling Support & Encouragement
Finding support and encouragement for your homeschooling journey is vital. No matter how prepared or qualified you are, or how “on board” your spouse and children are, you will find yourself in need of encouragement at some point. Trust me: I was one of those moms who thought I had it all figured out (being a homeschool graduate and all), only to find myself struggling with the same fears and self-doubt that entangle all homeschoolers. Remember, if homeschooling was easy, everyone would be doing it — right?
However, I also believe that if God has led you to homeschooling, then He’s laid out a safety net for you. He doesn’t simply intend for us homeschooling mamas to survive, He wants us to thrive!
Here are five places where I look for homeschool support:
1) Look to God and His word. If your homeschooling “why” is driven by your faith in God and what you believe He calls you to do for your children, then His answers to your homeschooling questions are the most important. Prayer and bible study is critical for defeating self-doubt and turning your struggles over to God. Allow Him to direct your path, and don’t be surprised when He leads you in a different direction. (Prov. 3:5-6)
It takes real effort to put an end to the constant struggle between “ideal” expectations and God’s plans for you. You have to retrain your brain with the right thoughts about yourself, your identity in Christ, and God’s words of truth about motherhood. So make sure you spend time feeding your spirit the right food — it’s vital, especially when homeschooling!
2) Talk to your spouse. This should have been easy for me because my husband (who was also formerly homeschooled) has always been an advocate for our homeschooling. However, I struggled with sharing my struggles with my husband because I let pride get in the way. To ask for help from him would mean admitting my weakness, and I wanted to be stronger than that.
However, God created the family dynamic for our benefit. Without going into the details of gender roles and family structure, I will say that I believe God designed women differently because of how He intended for us to function in our family — differently from our husbands. Parenting is a partnership, but father and mother have different roles and responsibilities. When we take on the “whole” responsibility (and burden) of homeschooling, we don’t take advantage of the gifts and support our husbands bring to the table.
I realize that not all homeschooling moms have a supportive husband or family member to share the responsibility of homeschooling with. If you are in this situation, I believe the Lord does have someone prepared to support you on your homeschooling journey that you can seek out through prayer — a mentor. Keep reading!
3) Find a homeschooling mentor. When I think of the often-referenced “Titus 2” woman, what I am drawn to about her is her circle of support. Younger women — and new moms, and new homeschoolers — have a lot to gain from the wisdom of more experienced women who’ve walked in our shoes.
Once again, pride often kept me from being honest with homeschooling veterans who would have been great mentors for me. There was a time that I let myself become isolated from the very women that God had placed in my life to support me. However, now I know how important it is to open yourself up to a mentor who can walk alongside you when times are tough. The fact that I can now reach out to these women for support and encouragement has been one of the best gifts God has given me during my homeschooling journey so far.
Pray for the Lord to guide you to an ideal mentor, whether it’s a family member or friend, or someone new that He leads you to reach out to.
4) Plug in to your homeschool community. Whether you’re looking for social opportunities or practical support, I think homeschool support groups can be a great place to find homeschool encouragement as long as you proceed with caution. What I mean by this is that once you open yourself up to group, the dynamic can be both positive and negative. Everyone won’t always agree, and you won’t always “click” with all the group members. You also don’t want to fall into the comparison trap with the other homeschooling moms.
That said, I think that plugging in to the local homeschool community is an important part of building your personal support network. Within the group, you may develop a few close friendships with women you can open up to in times of need, and vice versa.
Also consider the homeschooling community at large: There are both local and national homeschooling events taking place yearly that are designed to support and encourage you in the practical, emotional and spiritual aspects of homeschooling. After attending a local convention two years ago in Denver and Teach Them Diligently Convention two years in a row, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so energized and refreshed. I’ve also made inspiring and supportive friends in the process.
For more on how homeschooling conventions can encourage and inspire you, see our Homeschool Conventions 2013 Series.
5) Find encouragement in the written word. Before my sister-in-law Rosanna approached me about starting NextGen Homeschool together with our sisters, I was already reaching out for homeschool encouragement by reading the blogs and books of my “virtual” mentors — faith-filled, wise women who were sharing honestly and openly about their struggles and victories in homeschooling. The words of women such as Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts and blogging at A Holy Experience, often read like letters written specifically for me by someone who knew my struggles and my heart. I can’t tell you how many times God has led me to open a book or blog page to discover His message to me for that very moment.
This is one of the reasons my sister, sisters-in-law and I continue to share our experiences here at NextGen Homeschool. It’s my prayer that getting a glimpse into the highs and lows of our real-life homeschooling days can encourage you the way the words of many other inspiring moms out there continue to inspire us.
The bottom line is this: God wants us to depend on Him and trust Him completely, but He doesn’t intend for us to journey alone. Reach out to those He has placed in your life to be your safety net. And if you need more “lines” of support, it’s time to step out in faith, get out of the house, and find them.
Have you found yourself in need of more support in your homeschooling journey? Where do you look for homeschool encouragement? What have been some of your most encouraging encounters? Share your sources of encouragement in the comments section below.