A few unrelated questions that were asked at the Mum Heart Conference
Q. I’d love advice on finding/organising a co-op. Tips on where/how/topics/subjects etc. Can the co-op group be social only or do they work better if there is an educational or other interest that brings everyone together?
A. I have written about our homeschool co-op here.
I encourage anyone who would like to meet with like-hearted mums, and yet can’t find such a group in their area to start one. I don’t think you can have too many groups – as long as you aren’t critical etc of the other groups. A group can be just social, or it can be a blend, or it can be totally academic/learning focus. It is important to know what your objectives are and to revisit them yearly – especially if new folk join. Your objectives may change as your children grow, or you may always maintain your initial vision. To start such a group you need yourself and one other like-hearted family. You don’t need to do things exactly the same as far as your homeschool goes, but if you have the same heart desires for your family, and for the purpose of getting together.
Q. What are the best excursions you have done?
A. When I went to school we went on school excursions regularly – we went and saw aspects of the community at work, we went to historical re-enactment type of places, we went ice skating, to the Royal Show, to zoos and so forth. When it comes to homeschooling these are the types of things we do as a family anyway. So in that sense we don’t do excursions. But we have tried to keep our eyes and ears open to different things happening in our community that we can show the kids – two of the recent things we’ve seen have been the development of a new farming/irrigation area, and the fixing of a major bridge that was damaged in a flood. Both of these happened through contacts with either homeschool dads or family friends. One of the things that is important to me when we go out – either as a big co-op group, or as a few families, is that the organisation/workplace can handle multiple ages, and not just class like situations.
Q. Do you have any advice for homeschooling for single mums?
A. My first encouragement would be to find a family that supports you – they may or may not be homeschoolers. It is very hard to do single parenting on your own. Find someone who will invite you as an extension of their family. This of course is tricky as everyone is ‘busy’ so do it yourself. Invite another family into your family. Make building community a priority for your family.
My second encouragement is to train your children to respect your private space. Teach them to sit quietly and read, or play. Teach them to occupy themselves for a set time in their room. Take these times to refresh yourself.
Then my encouragement is to the traditional family – to invite a single mum ionto your family. They need you. Dad’s you need to extend your care to the fatherless. You mums with the support of a husband, you need to extend your care to the single mum. Be a sister, be a friend. Encourage your children to adopt the kids of a single family as their brothers/sisters.
Q. How do you manage church life and homeschool life?
A. This is a matter of priorities – which isn’t always easy to have straight. We need to see that our family is our first ministry, our children are our first disciples. (Whether we are homeschooling or not.) This is very hard because the church doesn’t necessarily see it this way so there is always the pressure to be involved in this or that.
Second aspect is to see that church life is a part of family life – we don’t have church life on Sunday and Wednesday and then family life for the rest of the week. We are Christians, part of the body of Christ as are our children. So the things that we want to be invovled in that are initiated by the church need to fit in with our family goals and direction. Our children learn so much by being involved in church life themselves, but they also learn where your heart is if they constantly see you putting others before them.
There are seasons to our life, and some seasons will allow for more involvement in things outside the family home, than other seasons. We need to recognise which season we are in, find contentment and be faithful to what God has given us, and not be stretched by the things that man wants of us.