By guest author Shari McMinn
One of the aspects I treasure most about the homeschooling lifestyle is the relationships you can build with other like-minded families. We are blessed to often get together with other Christian home educating families either in their urban home or out in the remote country on our farm.
The encouragement that comes from meaningful family-to-family mentoring helps both newbie and veteran homeschooling families. Our family has been living this lifestyle for more than 20 years, with my youngest now eleven. Many younger families who are new to homeschooling have children younger than mine and are still having children.
Being with these newbie families helps me stay young at heart and allows my children to learn to care for and appropriately play with infants and toddlers. Those younger families glean wisdom from my family on a variety of topics including homemaking skills, teaching high school at home, and enjoying life with adult children.
Some things to consider as you build similar relationships might include:
- Food: Preparing and eating delicious, homemade food always bring families together. Whether it is a holiday, birthday, Sunday after church, or cooking lesson on new cuisine, the act of sharing the provision, work, and enjoyment is a great way to start a relationship with another family. Be sure to check for food allergies and sensitivities and mutually share the burden of the purchase and preparation. Keep it simple – the most enjoyable meal times can often be had around soup, salad, and bread.
- Time: Select a date and time of day that work for both families and try to include the dads, planning around their work schedules. Set a flexible time to arrive but a firm time to depart so tired parents and kids can get home safely. Be patient with each other as things come up; rescheduling might occur several times until you actually get together. Sickness, foul weather, and unsafe road conditions are all worth staying home for.
- Home: Lower your expectations. Your home may not be House Beautiful, but how about House Friendly? A 15-minute cleanup before guests arrive is easily accomplished. When visiting another family’s home, tell them ahead of time you are coming to see them, not their home. Accept that it might not be neat and tidy, but warm and loving. Large families or families with lots of little ones especially need to hear you are okay with whatever is going on in their home. Prepare your children to offer help with cleanup before you leave in order to bless a tired Mom and an overwhelmed Dad.
- New Skills: Enjoy teaching or learning things from each other. Whether it is gardening, auto mechanics, home remodeling, music, or art, share your talents and learn from your friends. Help each other out with a small project or bless each other with the skills God has given each individual family.
- Screens Off: Be sure to avoid having cell phones on during your visit and keep the television off so you can talk and enjoy each other’s company. The art of communication is dying. We home educating families have the opportunity to spend time in conversation around the meal table, sitting outside in the evening, or lounging in the living room while we chat and learn about each other.
- Get outside your comfort zone: Is there a family in your homeschool support group that intimidates you or one you don’t really care for in your church? Invite them over – you would be amazed at what you have in common. The Lord will bless your reaching out to another family by showing His amazing grace as you build a relationship with them.
- Worship God! After a shared meal is a great time to pray, sing a few hymns, and enjoy a Bible devotion. Not only is this edifying for the adults, but the children will enjoy participating and learning if they see other kids doing the same. After all, our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason we exist and the impetus for our Christian homeschooling lifestyle.
Ready? Let’s go build some relationships!