Homeschooling isn't always easy. Sometimes it's downright difficult and frustrating, especially when our perceived expectations fall short. Add to that unnecessary and often insensitive comments from those who may or may not be well-meaning and a homeschool parent can become very discouraged, so much so that may even throw in the towel, left feeling like a complete failure. That is why it is ever so important to find ways to encourage our fellow homeschool families.
No matter where you are in your homeschooling journey, whether you are a newbie just getting started or a veteran with years and years of experience, there are some simple things we can do to help build up our homeschooling communities.
Do share – Whether we belong to a co-op, a homeschool or social media group, have our own blog or just meeting another homeschooler in our everyday activities, share your experiences with others, good and bad. Many times, we only share the positive aspects of our lives, painting an unrealistic picture of how things are going. Don't be afraid to be real and let others know that sometimes things aren't going so smoothly, and we need support too. By doing this, it may help someone else realize they are not alone.
Do praise efforts – Words of affirmation can go a long way. When we are feeling worn down and discouraged about our homeschooling efforts, reassurance that something we are doing is right can be just the boost we need to keep going.
Do listen – Sometimes we just need to vent. It is very important that we listen to one another without tying to solve every problem or critiquing them. Let them know that we understand what they are going through because we have been there too and that we are here to listen.
Don't compare – As difficult as it may be, try not to compare your homeschool with someone else's. We must remember that we are all individuals with our own unique ways of doing things. While it may look like someone else has it all together and we are falling short, imagine that they may be thinking the same exact thing. Focus on that individuality and encourage each other to keep going. After all, we are all working towards the same end goal.
Don't judge – Similarly to not comparing ourselves to others, we need to be mindful not to judge how someone goes about educating their children. No one knows another's child better than the parent and they are doing what they feel is best for them. Just because someone is doing things differently than we might does not mean it is wrong.
Don't criticize – However you may feel about a particular curriculum, homeschooling method or where someone chooses to teach their child, it is best to keep that opinion to yourself unless asked for it. And then be cautious not to attack the choices that have been made. No one wants to be put on the defense in-regards-to our homeschooling decisions. There are plenty of folks out there who question our decisions regularly, so we should not contribute to it.
We are all imperfect and are probably aware of our shortcomings more than anyone else is. In a world that is always at the ready to point these things out to us, encouragement is a valuable commodity. By encouraging one another we are not only strengthening the homeschool community we are also improving the world in general.