January 24, 2014

Five Days of Homeschooling Essentials~Homeschoolers Unite!

Have you ever been to a big convention of some sort? It's a rush! I experienced my very first one (of my own choosing--tractor shows aren't my thing LOL!) last spring when I was able to go to the Great Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati, OH. Wow. It was amazing. A building FULL of homeschoolers! I think the absolute coolest thing is that you could start conversations with ANYONE there. I shared experiences in curriculum. I advised about manipulatives. I commiserated with scheduling. And I didn't know a single person I was talking with.

Homeschoolers share a special bond because we are blazing a path contrary to what's expected. We need each other which is why it is an essential for homeschooling!
#5 Other Homeschoolers
Let's face it. There is no easy way to say it. "Traditional Academia" frowns on homeschooling and frankly, most people don't really understand what present day homeschooling is even like. Most of society today is confused and misinformed about homeschoolers. And if we are honest with ourselves we must admit that it's just easier to avoid what we don't know much about.

Let me use an analogy: 
Let's say I go to the grocery store and head into the produce section. Boy, there are TONS of fruit to pick from. Apples in several varieties. Oranges big and small. Grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, cherries, grapes and yes the beautiful simple banana. There are even a few mango, papaya and kiwis. All the fruit that I know and am familiar with. The fruit I see all the time and that I know everyone enjoys. There is also coconut, limes and a...hmm. What is this thing? 
It's kind of unusual looking. There aren't many of them here. Hmm. The sign says it's a star fruit?! Well I've heard of that before. And I kinda know what it is--but not very much because I mean...who buys star fruit for their fruit salad or to snack on? They are kinda weird now that I look at them. I don't really know anyone who eats them--well maybe just one person who has ever tried it. I don't know what it looks like inside...or how it tastes and it's something different and I probably won't like it. So I'm just going to stay away from this weird fruit and go back to the normal fruits. I mean clearly they must taste bad since stores don't carry many of them and if they were good, then I'm sure I'd have been told about it--now where is that bag of apples I wanted?

Most parents with school age children believe that it's safer and better to just go with what they know in regards to education for their children. I know. This was me. I'd based my opinion of homeschooling on what I knew from a distance. I had a just a few homeschooled friends growing up. Like two. But I didn't bother asking them about it because they were my friends and they were clearly normal (since they were MY friends. LOL!) so it didn't matter and I didn't give it any thought. I also saw some less than spectacular examples of homeschooling growing up and decided that must represent the homeschooling world at large (except for MY friends of course. LOL). I was public schooled. I planned on doing the same for my children. 

Until I was faced with a choice at the brink of starting Kindergarten with my son. Do I choose the red apple education (and I have absolutely nothing against the parents who do--I was even in college to get my education degree at the time) or do I dare to try the lesser known star fruit variety?? I noticed that a large amount of my close friends were reaching for the star fruit of homeschooling and claimed it was amazing. And so with a sense of excitement and eagerness we chose the "star fruit" and we've discovered a rich vibrant world of education we never knew even existed!

That's why homeschoolers NEED other homeschoolers. Because unlike everyone else, we get what the big deal about homeschooling is. We speak the same language. We speak the language of "star fruit". We know what it's like to not be the norm. We know what it's like to deal with the facial expressions after we say "Oh we don't attend public school. We choose to homeschool." We get the experiences with the crazy questions (you know the ones I mean). We know the drill. And we know how awesomely amazing homeschooling really is!

We need each other for so many reasons. I need my homeschooling friends so I can share my teaching triumphs and my woes. To have someone to say "Oh I've so been there! It will get better!". To have a homeschool friend send you silly text messages to make you smile on a day when you are battling the "Monday's" with your kids. 
One of my best friends who homeschools like me. We send each other texts all the time.
To be able to share insight on curriculum. To collaborate on ideas and help each other solve problems. We need to experience group settings with other homeschooled families so that our children can see that they AREN'T alone. That it's NOT weird to be homeschooled. To learn how to interact with other children being taught the same morals and character as they are. 
We need to hang out with other homeschoolers to remember just how amazing homeschoolers really are! Look at the star fruit...it gets it's name because when you slice it cross-wise, it makes beautiful perfect stars with every slice. No other fruit does that! Star fruits make traditional fruit look--ordinary! The same can be said about homeschoolers--they are extraordinary when compared with the mainstream educational system!

Having access to other homeschoolers is a homeschooling essential, because we need each other to make it through the homeschooling experience.

Here are some things that a few of my fellow homeschooling friends shared when I asked them why homeschoolers needed to communicate with and/or be around other homeschoolers:

*a shoutout to my friend Laura who shared some of her own homeschooling photos with me for today's post*

Teresa: I need to learn how to better plan/organize my day/time. I need the social interaction. My son needs to see on a more regular basis that other children go in the potty too and that being a scary dinosaur to his friends isn't socially acceptable.

Renee: My children especially need to see that they are not the only "weird" kids who don't want to go to public school, and that having common decency and manners is actually expected of children other than themselves.
Ruth: I need support from other homeschooling parents, just as much as my kids need support from their homeschooling peers. I need to be able to ask questions and vent my concerns and frustrations to people who understand what it is like to homeschool. My kids need to see that there are other kids just like them and understand they are not alone.

Stacey: We all need friends, especially those who will reinforce the values we are striving for. I find that I typically connect more quickly with other homeschooling moms than I do with moms in general. The commitment to homeschooling is such a big part of my life, and I already have that in common with other homeschooling mothers.
My son doesn't have the blessing of a co-op to be a part of and we live far from any other homeschooled friends. Thankfully, I am willing to do whatever it takes to get him around other homeschooled children; therefore, I meet up for nice field trips with my homeschooling friends up in Cincinnati about two hours away. We have a delightful group and the kids, as well as the moms, enjoy being together. I am also extremely grateful for the internet as it keeps me in easy communication with my fellow homeschooling moms from all backgrounds.
My son's best friend is homeschooled far away in Georgia. His mom and I schedule them times to Skype at least every other week. It has kept them close. In fact they did an online class together which they loved.

I do what it takes to keep my boys (and myself!) in communication with other homeschooling families. It's an essential part of our homeschooling experience and one of the most vital! I can't WAIT to head back to the GHC convention this year and experience the incredible rush of being surrounded by thousands of fellow homeschoolers--all of us star fruit gathered together to shine!

If you homeschool, how often are you able to meet up with other homeschooling families?

This post concludes my week talking about my homeschooling essentials of love, my laminator, flexibilitymy printer and other homeschoolers...I hope that you've enjoyed my posts and I hope I "see" you around again sometime!

Don't forget about the GIVEAWAY going on now thru January 28th!!

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Head on over to our anchor post to see the full list of participants in this week's blog series...or if the thought of 80+ blogs is overwhelming...here is a great group of nine to get started with!

Make sure you get entered in our giveaway for this week--we've got a iPad mini up for grabs which is a great prize and a homeschooling essential for many! You can get entered to win, and because I am one of the co-hosts for the giveaway all of my Facebook fans and email subscribers get free entries (one for each!)! Deadline to enter is midnight January 28th, so don't wait!

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