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What if...as a home educator, I'm craving community?
Part 2 of 2
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Home Educators are not one-size-fits-all
We talked last time about how, for our kids, socialization is not the same as community. How our kids, especially as they enter the teen years, are looking for a community where they can participate in something that feels meaningful to them. How they want a place to discuss, and celebrate, and contribute.
As the parents, grandparents, family members, what-have-you, who are educating these children at home, we also want a feeling of togetherness with a group of people.
Being a home educator doesn’t mean that we stop craving a community of our own. Part of being human means we seek out connection. John Donne famously said it best, “No man is an island.”
And just like with our kids, it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Just having homeschooling in common doesn’t mean that you have an instant community.
Home educators come in all varieties. There are different styles of homeschooling, from Charlotte Mason to unschoolers. There are faith-based homeschooling families, and secular home educators. There are those who home educate because of special needs. There are homeschoolers on farms and in cities and everywhere in between. All in all, we are an incredibly diverse population!
Finding Your People
And that can make it hard to find the community you crave, those people who share your values and support you in this lifestyle’s ups and downs. The idea that being a homeschooler automatically grants you a supportive community is no more valid than assuming that socialization only happens when a child is with a group of same-age peers all day long. It’s simply not the case. It is absolutely possible to be in a room of homeschooling adults and feel completely alone.
So what do we do?
We take the same advice we give our children. We search out groups that meet a meaningful need in our lives. We try them out and see what feels like a good fit and what doesn’t.
A homeschool group might be exactly what you need for community, and you happily hang out at co-op or park play dates with other homeschooling adults.
Or you may feel like you want to explore a different facet of yourself. After all, we’re all more than “just homeschoolers.” So your ideal community might be hanging out with a group of people who have nothing to do with homeschooling! Maybe it’s a book club, or an art class, a Bible study group, or volunteering at a food bank or crisis center. And that is absolutely fine! You don’t have to be a homeschooler 24/7/365.
But…because there’s always a “but”
Sometimes it’s harder as adults, though, because we have more responsibilities. We’re tired from a long day of facilitating learning. We feel selfish or guilty for taking time away from our families to focus on ourselves.
But consider this: Do you think having new experiences and gaining interesting insights from others just might make you a better home educator? Could learning new skills and delving into your personal interests add more tools to your homeschool toolbox? What better way to model lifelong learning than exploring some interests of your own, outside of spelling lists and science experiments?
It’s possible to be a home educator and be able to tap into your own interests, too! It takes a bit more planning, probably, but the outcome can be worth it.
Taking the next step
Locally, just this fall, a homeschool choir director sent out an email, wondering if any homeschool parents would want to get together a couple of times a month to sing. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The idea touched a need deep inside to be part of something creative and to develop a community of song. Filling that need allows those women to wake up the next morning a bit more refreshed, a bit lighter in spirit maybe, and that’s going to spill over onto their children.
So if you’re feeling lonely, like you want to be part of something more, but haven’t found it yet, reach out. Community is where you find it…but sometimes, you have to create your own opportunities. Make that place where you can discuss and celebrate and contribute. Feed that craving for community.