by Kathy Kuhl
I’ve reviewed many homeschool plans as I consult with new and experienced homeschoolers. I’m usually impressed by their thoughtful, hard work. But they often neglect one vital tool.
They don’t plan how to keep themselves going.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Teaching children with learning challenges is not for wimps, but it’s also not for Lone Rangers. You need support.
In these next two blogs, I’ll help you find the support you need to keep going.
Some of us already get help from therapists, doctors, psychologists, and special education consultants. But we also need help that requires no advanced training. Support groups can help us keep going.
Imagine you’re just arrived at a homeschool support group. One parent is thrilled her (or his) child won a scholarship. You, on the other hand, are happy your sixth grader finally learned to count to a hundred. Will someone there understand your joy? Feelings of isolation can cause parents to stop looking for support.
Why keep trying?
- We need people. It may take time to find the right place and to adjust our expectations, but people were made to be in community.
- People need us. Someone else may have a child like ours, or know a parent who does. Our sensitivity to others, humor, and perseverance will encourage others. As Stephanie Hubach says in Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched By Disability, every person is made in the image of God, so each one is valuable.
How to develop supportive friendships in homeschool groups? First, look for common goals. Whatever our children’s abilities, we all want them to be honest, caring people who try hard. Second, don’t be touchy. Be ready to rejoice with that parent whose child won the scholarship. Third, look for folks who will celebrate our children’s progress and perseverance.
Groups differ in their personalities and interests. We may have to try a few groups to find a good fit. In some areas, there may not be a suitable homeschool group. Or we may find a great group, but no one there has challenges anything like ours.
How can we find people who understand our particular situations? Look online. Online groups designed for homeschoolers with children with special needs include the Yahoo! Groups Homeschool_SpecialNeedsKidz and GIFTSNC. Some homeschool forums have subgroups for families with special needs. There are online groups for homeschoolers with particular challenges, such as the Yahoo’s homeschoolinganddownsyndrome or Homeschooling Dyslexic Kids.
All groups vary in their beliefs and personalities. Try one. Post a short introduction, (without your last name or identifying information), read other posts, and learn. To find a Yahoo group (or “list”), go to groups.yahoo.com, and search for the groups listed above, or enter “homeschool” plus whatever condition your child has.
Caution! If you find a good group online, you may find it addictive. Don’t let it keep you up until two. Set a timer if you need to. And beware of the artificial intimacy created by sharing concerns with strangers. They may not be what they seem.
Virtual communities can’t take the place of local groups. Members of these online support groups cannot meet you for coffee or bring chicken soup when you are sick. So don’t quit your local group. Both local and online groups can help you keep going.
Next time, we will see how people who don’t homeschool can support your homeschool.