by Karen D. Koch
We all need mentors in many areas of our life, and homeschooling is no different. When I first began homeschooling, I was desperately in need of advice, support, and practical support. I was blessed to join Napa Valley Home Educators that provided love, encouragement, practical help, science fairs, and mentoring for more than 10 years.
Here I am 14 years down the homeschool road, and guess what? I still need a mentor. Every age and stage of homeschooling brings different challenges and concerns. As we’ve trundled along, I’ve found other moms who have struggled through sports, dyslexia, moving, managing homeschool with a new baby, science co ops, the SAT, college applications, and so much more. Their advice and encouragement has meant the world to me.
Last night at basketball practice with my youngest, I had a chat with a mom in my homeschool co op. She has four kids, age 4 months to 7, so her oldest is the same age as my youngest (mine range from 7-19). We chatted a bit about the stages we are in (we are at college applications, dual credit, SAT, etc.) while they are managing with a new baby. I told her she doesn’t need to worry about all that high school stuff right now, and that there will be people around to help her when she gets to that stage, maybe even me!
How to Find a Mentor
- First off, acknowledge that you need one. Homeschooling is tough enough without trying to be the Lone Ranger.
- Join a support group or a private school satellite program. Often these groups are led by veteran homeschool moms. Seek out their wisdom and guidance.
- Find activities with other homeschool moms. Some of the best mentoring I ever received was at park play day. The kids played on the playground while the moms visited.
- Ask for help. Look for moms a bit further down the road than you. Ask them what worked for them and what didn’t, remembering that one size doesn’t fit all.
- Attend a homeschool conference. You can pack a lot of learning into a two-day conference. Perhaps you can go with a fellow homeschooler.
- Listen to convention CDs, podcasts, webinars for encouragement.
- Find an online community. Facebook, blogs, etc. are great, but don’t forget you need real people around you. Don’t let the Internet be your sole support.
- Pray that God will send you the person you need at the right time.
- CHEA has an Education Consultant available by phone which may be a good starting place.
Be a Mentor
Don’t forget that while you are being blessed and taught by your mentor, someone else needs probably needs your mentoring. Recently I read a book aloud to the kids, It’s a Jungle Out There by Ron Snell. It’s a fun and sometimes poignant story of the author growing up as a missionary kid in Peru. As his parents began schools in remote tribal villages, the teachers (barely educated themselves) would basically learn first grade, then go out and teach it to those just starting. The next year they’d learn 2nd grade, then teach it to the same group, staying just ahead of their students. So while you’re praying about your mentor, pray for the person God would have you mentor as well.
I think homeschool is just like that. Once you’ve filled out your Private School Affidavit once, you know more than the person who has never done it. Once you’ve navigated the PSAT, you know more than the mom just arriving at that stage.
You may have just the solution or piece of information another homeschool mom is needing.
Join us at the SCOPE/CHEA Family Discipleship and Homeschool Conference June 9-11 in Rocklin, or at the 33rd Annual Convention July 7-9 in Pasadena