How and Why to Find a Mentor and Back to School Giveaway

How and why to find a mentor

As a homeschooler, have you struggled with any of these questions?

  1. What are my state requirements?
  2. How do I get started?
  3. What do I teach and when?
  4. What methodology is best for my family?
  5. What do I say to critics?
  6. How do I schedule our day?
  7. How do I motivate my kids to do lessons?
  8. What curriculum do I choose?
  9. What about learning and teaching styles?
  10. How do I handle special needs?
  11. How can I homeschool frugally?
  12. Do I need to worry about Common Core?
  13. Where did I put my coffee?

Well, ok. That last one is probably just me.

Whether you’re new to homeschooling or a few years into it, chances are you’ve looked for a homeschooling mentor of some kind. Homeschooling is a challenge and it is such an important undertaking! It only makes sense to find homeschoolers who have “been there, done that” to come alongside us and help navigate the sometimes murky waters.

Finding A Mentor
 

Benefits and Limitations

As with any mentors, homeschooling mentors have limits. Nobody knows you, your family, and your child as well as God does. Not even you. Going to Him first with every concern is far wiser and more effective than relying on any mentor. Checking anything your mentors say against God’s Word and His leading in your life is also critical.
No book, site, or individual is going to perfectly encompass all the needs and goals of your family. To simply follow what someone else does because they appear to be doing well is not a good choice. However, it is worth the time and effort to find that handful of mentors and reliable resources that fit your needs relatively well and can help you navigate the plethora of homeschooling issues and information.

Face-to-Face Mentors

Face-to-face mentors are hard to find. It’s sad, but true. I once asked a leader in the large homeschool support group I joined a few years ago if they had some sort of mentorship program or if she could connect me with another mom to help me get started. She said no! They had tried, but the more experienced moms ended up being too busy and the relationships never lasted.
Even so, it can happen! I think they are worth the effort (and the vulnerability that comes with it) to keep looking for those mentors. I have recently refreshed my search for one or two for myself.
Here are a few things to keep in mind on your own search:
  • Observe – If possible, find other homeschool moms that you’d like to learn from. Look for some with kids one or two levels above yours, and some who are nearing the home stretch. Perhaps they have a strong Charlotte Mason flair you’re interested in. Maybe they seem to keep things moving with 6 kids, or they’re just pleasant and easy to talk to. Local support groups are a great way to find homeschoolers and scout for mentors!
  • Approach – The best mentors develop naturally. Instead of saying “hey, can you mentor me?” try asking if you can buy them a coffee and pick their brain about homeschooling, or come to their house and be a fly on the wall for a few hours. Email them asking some resource recommendations or what their homeschool day looks like.
  • Be Considerate – Homeschool moms are busy. Be considerate of their time and make sure you aren’t using them as a crutch or your only source of information! I find that asking general questions (“what is your homeschool day like?”) or troubleshooting (“how do I deal with letter reversal in handwriting?”) are the best ways to learn from them without sapping their energy.

Online/Book Mentors

Of course, there is a vast sea of blogs, sites, and books all about homeschooling that are meant to mentor and support you. Ask around and find out what the favorites are. In the past few years, I’ve figured out what my favorite go-to sources are for troubleshooting homeschool problems or general ideas and inspiration.
Just remember that it’s much better to have 5 or so books and resources you rely on instead of allowing input from hundreds a day to reach your ears. Who has the time and brain capacity for that? Not me! I know, because I’ve tried. Keep in mind that we are looking for “mentors,” not seeking to gather all possible opinions.
Here is my short list for online sites, books and blogs I follow loosely for information and encouragement. Yours will look different, and that’s ok!
  • Doorposts – This is more of a parenting and discipleship resource, but we all know how integrated those are with homeschooling! This is our favorite biblical parenting resource, hands down.
  • Educating WholeHearted Child (and other materials by the Clarksons) – I read and enjoy many homeschooling books, but this is the one I always come back to. It is packed full of good helps, information, guidance and encouragement!
How about you? What are you looking for in a mentor? What are your favorite “mentors” online or in books?
 
TaunaMTauna loves her family and loves God. She is a homeschooling mama that has been married for 8 years and has 4 young children. She writes at Proverbial Homemaker.com, so named because, as she says, “me becoming a wife, mom, and homemaker proves that anything is possible with God.”

 

 

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