Jan 21, 2014

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: Day Two: Community

Welcome back to 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials! Yesterday, I talked about five things I believe are essential for every homeschool family, today I'm going to talk to you about something that I think everyone needs and then give you a couple of ways that my family meets that need even though our methods are not essential for everyone. Does that make sense?

I believe that every family (every person, really) needs community. We scoff when people ask how our kids are going to be socialized without the school system, but it is true that our kids do need to learn how to get along with people who are not related to them. The joy of homeschooling is that we just get to do that on our own terms. There are many places to find community as a homeschooler: church, neighbors, Scouts, 4H and similar organizations, volunteering organizations, and many, many more. It's not as important where you find it as it is that you do find it. Not only do your kids need friends, but you need support as well. It helps so much to talk to someone who just gets it when your toilet is clogged and there is cumin all over the floor and your first grader is playing with her Math U See blocks and your older kids are fighting over who gets to read their assignment first and you start dreaming about the school that is just. down. the. street... Someone who can remind you of your reason for doing this to begin with.

Nearly two years ago, we packed up our family and moved to a new city two hours away from everything and everyone we knew. We were desperate for community. Now, we feel so blessed to be able to live here with the friends that we have found. First, the boys joined Cub Scouts. Scouts is for boys, but (at least in our experience) it encompasses the entire family. The girls are always welcomed, not only in the Pinewood Derby, but even in the meetings when need be. We haven't managed to make it, yet, but we are looking forward to Family Camp this summer. Not only have the boys made friends, but one of my best friends here is a Cub Scout Mama.

The next thing we joined was our homeschool group's soccer league. It has been so much fun and such an incredible experience for the kids! Our league is self-contained. Everyone is a homeschooler and everyone is a Titan. There is competition, there are winners and losers, not just of games, but of the season and there are trophies for the first place teams in each age group. But all the kids practice together, so each coach is invested in every kid in his age group. I love seeing a coach on the red team cheer because a kid on the blue team scored a goal and he knows how hard that kid has been working in practice every day. It's not a high stakes league, and I don't expect it will turn my kids into professional soccer stars, but they are exposed to so much: teamwork; how to win gracefully and lose with dignity; exercise; how to take hard knocks and get up and play anyway; how to meet new people; how to get along with kids whose personalities rub yours the wrong way; how to take instruction from an adult that is not your parent; how to play against your friends and still remain friends; how to sit the bench; how to play hard; and even some soccer skills. My favorite thing, though, is the friends the kids have made.

And the last thing we did was join a co-op. I know there are a lot of mixed opinions about co-ops, but that's probably because not all co-ops are fabulous like ours. First, our director and board work very, very hard to make everything run smoothly. Also, moms teach the classes and they offer to teach what interests them, so not only is there a wide variety, but the teachers are excited about their topics. In fact, we have been pleasantly surprised a couple of times just in the short time we have been there that the classes a kid might not be that interested in was actually great fun just because of the way the teacher approached the class. Every single day we are there all four of my kids come away saying what a great time they had and how much they learned that morning! They have all (even my shy one) made friends with some awesome kids at our co-op. Lunch at the park and field trips cement those friendships.

So there you go, Day Two of Homeschooling Essentials is about community and some ideas on how to find it. If you missed it, Day One is here:

Be sure and come back tomorrow for Day Three. Meanwhile, click over and read what the other 89 Crew members think is essential for their homeschool!

Ok, so 89 is a lot! Here is a short list of 9 to get you started. ;)

Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

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