The Homeschool Alliance: A Community Experience
It is always a joy to wake up to a slew of new posts in The Homeschool Alliance—parents sharing their newfound confidence and productivity in homeschool and in their families. Today’s first quarter check in moved me to tears. It’s beautiful to witness the routines and rhythms grow and become the warp and woof of family life. I don’t know how to quite express to you how proud I am of this community experience. I want to share it and I worry that you will think this is just a promotional ploy. It’s not. I want you to know about this resource because I see how much it is helping the ones who is it helping.
I’ve had a desire for a decade (or more) to foster the growth of a community of parents who would feel supported in their homeschool journey. I envisioned shared readings about learning and family life—readings I’d provide in a Master’s Level class if I taught it at the university. I look through books that are not traditionally read in home education circles, finding key ideas that will enhance the experience of living, not just family dynamics or education techniques (though we will do some of that too over time, I’m sure).
I record mini audio lectures (2-3 per month) to go with the short readings (readings are usually article length—10-12 pages). These lectures are meant to zero in on specific aspects of the reading and then to develop and apply those key ideas to our home education context. There are threads for discussion but discussing is not required.
In addition to the readings, I give everyone a “One Thing” goal for the month—three levels of challenge: the easy-peasy challenge (which can be done with relatively little preparation), the moderate challenge, and the advanced challenge (you get to decide). The first month, we focused on Poetry/Teatimes. In October, we explored nature (in a variety of wonderful ways!). In November, we introduced hammers and nails and materials to create sculptures: Hand crafts. The results are starting to pour in. One of my favorite comments is by a mom whose son is sewing a doll for his sister for Christmas. They stay up working on it after the sister is in bed. He told her, “Mom, I love doing stuff with you.”
The parents post photos and share stories. We have a folder where parenting issues are posted by members and the thoughtful care given to answering is blowing me away. There are no “shoulds” or system or language requirements in this space. You get to talk how you talk and share what you share and everyone has the chance to take or leave what is helpful or not.
My favorite folder to prepare each month is the Selfcare Spa. In it, I provide a weekly five minute practice meant to calm and soothe the home educating parent. We’ve snuck squares of chocolate, we’ve lit candles while doing a household chore, we’ve stood in our backyards breathing deeply and looking at the sky, we’ve added color to a bleak view in our homes… It’s the little things that help us to remember who we are as people, first, as we perform this daunting demanding task to educate our kids.
The result of all this support, inquiry into new ideas, giving attention to one new experience a month, and learning how to take care of self in the process is… peace. Fewer tears, a sense of contentment in today, an ability to see learning happening rather than assuming it isn’t all the time, and grace for growth and process rather than condemnation for not measuring up… again.
If you haven’t quite got your groove, or if you’re lonely for gentle kind support, or if you just want to see if this is something you’d like, check us out! It’s $24.95 a month. You can try a month and then see how it goes. Start or stop any time.
Anyway, thanks for listening. I get hopeful when I see families being deliberate about creating nurturing spaces for children to grow up into responsible, emotionally healthy, academically prepared human beings. It is how we contribute to the world as home educators. Thanks for doing your part.
Image by Ashley Webb (cc border, text added)
Julie, I’m glad you were able to realize your dream to do this.
I was able to listen to your Homeschool Alliance webinar from last week, and I can’t tell you how blessed I was! I have been a homeschooler for over 14 years, having graduated my oldest, and my next graduates this spring, yet I never really understood the “nuts and bolts” of dictation and copywork. I had stopped trying to do dictation for awhile because I always felt condemned when going on Charlotte Mason forums and reading what others were doing and how much time they were spending on it. It just never worked for our family like that. I’m glad you showed us how to do it and especially that there is no one “right” way to do it! That was so freeing!
You made it all so easy and PRACTICAL for the modern world. I love that.
My 7 year old son, who is ADHD and usually complains about doing school absolutely LOVED the reverse dictation and french dictation. He even asked it to do it again today! It took me all of about 10 minutes to type up the passage from a book we were reading, yet the dividend was enormous and he will long remember it.
Thank you for giving this veteran homeschooler a fresh perspective and restoring my JOY. It means so much.