How Can I Get a Homeschooling Mentor?

Older and younger woman cooking together

Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella continue their homeschool Q&A series with a discussion on homeschool parent mentors. Where can you find a mentor? What are the benefits of having one? Is the internet really enough, or could in-person interactions be even more valuable?

Yvette Hampton: This question says, “I need a Christian homeschooling mentor that can walk me through and help me step by step.” Oh, I love this question.

Aby Rinella: Yes, you do. We all do.

Yvette Hampton: Yes, we do. And let me just say that is so much of the reason why we do what we do at Schoolhouse Rocked. Aby and I do not spend the time that we do, recording podcasts and videos, and doing all these things because we make a ton of money at it, or get tons of rewards for it. Our reward is knowing that we are doing what God has called us to do, and being a blessing to you. And so, we really want to help, virtually mentor you. And we have others who do that with us, because Aby and I are still going into our 10th year of homeschooling, but there are many who have gone ahead of me and graduated their kids.

Yvette Hampton: And so, I have people in my life, like Durenda Wilson, Rachael Carman, Ginger Hubbard, and Connie Albers and people like that who…, who have spent years pouring into their kids, and are now pouring into us younger moms. It’s the whole Titus 2 thing. The older women teaching the younger women how to do this parenting, and marriage, and life thing, and being keepers of our home. Because homeschooling falls under all of those categories, and so you do need a homeschooling mentor.

Aby Rinella: Absolutely.

Yvette Hampton: I would say if you can find someone in your local church, or a local Christian homeschool support group or co-op, or something like that, seek them out. Because I think it’s part of our nature as humans to want to feel needed. It’s a blessing to those who are helping. I know when moms come to me and say, “Can you just help me with this, can you answer this question for me,” Or, “I was thinking about this, and I know you’ve been through this already, can you just walk me through this?” It is a huge blessing to me, and an honor, to be able to walk with them and help them to do that. And then, you know what? Later on, down the road, you get to be that to someone else.

Aby Rinella: Yes. And please, if you are at the end of this journey, when you graduate your last, don’t be done. It is so important that you stay in the game, because these new moms need you. And often, I think, without these great mentors, they may quit. So, stay in the game. There are a lot of mentorship things online where you can reach out to people, but I think nothing beats someone that’s walking it with you day-to-day, that can show up at your house and fold socks with you while you’re crying, and pray with you, and knows your kids, but… So, what was actually the question though? “How do I find one?”

Yvette Hampton: It’s more kind of a statement than a question.

Aby Rinella: Okay, okay.

Yvette Hampton: I think she’s just saying, “How do I find a homeschool mentor?”

Aby Rinella: So, one thing I would say is, “Ask.” Where I live, I tried to set up a homeschool mentorship program where we took some of the veteran moms and the younger moms. I remember the veteran moms saying several times, “These new young homeschool moms, they don’t act like they need us. They’re not asking. They have it all kind of figured out, and they’ve got their books and their online courses, and their this and their that.” So, don’t be afraid to go to that older woman in your area that has homeschooled, and say, “Hey, would you mentor me?” Don’t be afraid to ask. And older moms, please don’t be afraid to reach out to the younger moms. We need that.

Yvette Hampton: Right, yeah. And be honest and transparent with them. Don’t act like you have it all together, because none of us do, trust me.

Aby Rinella: Totally. We can see right through you.

Yvette Hampton: Just be honest with them and just say, “This is really what I’m struggling with.” And sometimes you may not have that person in your local community, but try to find that person somewhere.

Aby Rinella: Right.

Yvette Hampton: Yeah. [chuckle] Part of me wants to say, “You know, even through social media, you can find that.” But you can also find a lot of really, really bad advice.

Aby Rinella: Right.

Yvette Hampton: And so, I would say, be careful of that too. Rarely do I ever go on homeschool social media pages, like on Facebook and stuff, because some of the advice out there is just so poor. Some people give really good, sound Biblical advice, but some don’t. So just be careful who you’re listening to.

Aby Rinella: Exactly.

Yvette Hampton: She’s saying, “I need a Christian homeschooling mentor.” So, it sounds to me like she’s wanting someone who really is going to point her towards Christ.

Aby Rinella: Yeah, because a homeschool mentor is going to homeschool you in everything. Like you said, life, parenting, motherhood, marriage. So, you make sure your mentor lines up with God’s Word as they mentor you.

Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that’s right. And check everything through scripture. Don’t just take it for what they say, but back things up with scripture.

Aby Rinella: Yes.

Yvette Hampton: Sadly, we are out of time for today. Again, if you have questions for us, please send them in to podcast@schoolhouserocked.com. It is our absolute privilege and joy and honor to be able to answer those for you. So, let us know how we can encourage you. Aby, thank you for joining me today, again. And you guys cannot see this right now, but Aby is wearing a Schoolhouse Rocked T-shirt. And it is so cute.

Aby Rinella: It is so awesome. There are Schoolhouse Rocked long sleeves, shorts, it’s endless. You could actually change out your entire wardrobe to Schoolhouse Rocked… And your husband’s, too, honestly!

Yvette Hampton: Yes.

Aby Rinella: If you go to the Schoolhouse Rocked website, click “Support Schoolhouse Rocked” and select “Store” in the drop-down menu (Or click HERE!)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.

How to Start Homeschooling

So, you’ve decided to homeschool. Questions will come to mind after you have decided to start homeschooling. There are a number of things to consider and places to get answers, but first, remember you are not alone! Homeschooling has become a viable and an accepted alternative means of education. Chances are there are a number of active homeschool communities and groups near you for support and interaction.

5 Things to Consider When You Decide to Start Homeschooling

Check Your State Laws
You will want to check your state on the laws for homeschooling. If you are withdrawing any children from school, you will also want to check out what documentation is required and the procedure to withdraw them and start a homeschool in your state. When starting a homeschool, you will want to make sure you are submitting the required forms and meet any requirements to be able to homeschool your children (these vary from state to state). Also, you want to be aware of any records you need to complete, submit, and keep to start the year, during the year, and complete the year. There are websites available to consult about local state laws and updates to those laws. State departments usually have a homeschooling department for information and required documents. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides you with local state laws, updates and upcoming legislation, contact information for questions, documents, and reporting, local groups, and general homeschool information and guidance.

Research Learning and Homeschooling Styles
After you are familiar with your legal requirements, the fun begins. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to choose how and what you will use to learn in your homeschool. First, you will want to determine your and your child’s learning styles. You will want to be aware of your own preferences and how that might work with your child’s preferences. These learning styles vary from visual, auditory, and kinesthetic to a preference for learning and processing concepts and skills in an organized and structured format or learning concepts in a random or more spontaneous fashion. These learning styles will influence the materials and curriculum you purchase.

Here is a Learning Style Quiz to take to see what preferences you and your child may have in your learning styles.

Next, you will want to determine your Homeschooling Style or Philosophy. These range from a Traditional or Classical Approach to Charlotte Mason or Montessori Methods to Project Based units or Unit Studies. Again, you may have one approach that you would enjoy teaching and spending your day doing and your child may have another. So, it’s important to get an idea of where everyone is coming from.

Here is a Homeschooling Philosophy Quiz to give you an idea of everyone’s preferences.

After you have your results, you can read summaries of these philosophies at HSLDA.  

There are other homeschooling styles you can look into as well like Hybrid Homeschooling academies where your child attends a school for only specific days during the week and then completes the assigned school work at home for the rest of the week. There also online schools for one, some, or all of your classes.

Choosing your Curriculum
Now, is the really fun part! It’s like Christmas shopping from a catalogue. Based on the results of what kind of learning and homeschooling styles you and your children prefer, you will make choices about curriculum and materials you want to use. There are some curriculum resources specifically geared toward certain styles and others that can be used interchangeably.

A lot of homeschoolers refer to themselves as “Eclectic Homeschoolers”, meaning they use a combination of materials and teaching and learning styles that meet their needs. As you homeschool more children at one time or your children become middle and high schoolers, you may want to consider using online classes to free up your time in planning and leaving you available to work one on one with other children.

Homeschool conventions are a great place to evaluate lots of curriculum at once. Check out Teach Them Diligently and Great Homeschool Conventions, or look for your state homeschooling organization’s convention. Conventions are also a great way to get encouraged and to feel like you are part of a MOVEMENT, so plan to attend one this year. There is nothing quite like being in one place with hundreds or thousands of like-minded people.

Look for Groups, Activities, and Classes to Join
You can look into support groups for moms or your children to find out what is available to homeschoolers in your area, such as classes, activities, field trips, and other resources. You can look to your church for activities, as well as Christian groups and coops in your area to find a homeschooling community of faith. Some school systems also allow homeschooled children to participate in elective classes and extracurricular activities, while others allow no participation.

You will want to decide if you want to commit yourself to something that meets regularly or allow yourself the flexibility to join in on specific activities as they arise. You also want to keep in mind that all groups have different personalities and one group may not be a fit for you and your family, while another might be just right.

Look into opportunities that are open to all students if you do not find ones you are interested in that are tailored specifically to homeschoolers. Businesses and museums often cater to homeschoolers with classes and field trip days.

Decide what Kind of Schedule you Want to Follow
You will want to decide if you wish to follow a more traditional school schedule that matches your local school or a year round schedule to allow for vacation time or extra time off each week or during the school year. As long as you meet your state’s required number of days of school, the scheduling is up to you. From there, you can decide what kind of daily school schedule you wish to follow. The sky’s the limit!

You might want to cover a subject each day for a short designated amount of time or do more of a block schedule where you take more time on specific days of the week to only cover specific subjects. We did a combination of short daily lessons for certain things like math, reading, spelling, where I felt we needed the daily review, and spent more time only a couple of times per week on science or social studies. We saved Fridays for field trips, projects, experiments, or special classes. With time, you will find your personal rhythm and routine that suits you and your family.

As they say, “The days may feel long, but the years are short.” So, even though the above list is important in building a successful homeschool foundation, the most important thing is to build your family in your faith in Christ and enjoy your time together and your homeschool journey!


Written by Katie Glennon of Katie’s Homeschool Cottage. Read more posts by Katie.

 


 

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What About Secular Homeschoolers?

A few months ago I received an email from a woman wondering if Schoolhouse Rocked was appropriate for secular homeschool families. I appreciated the question and felt like it warranted a sincere and thoughtful response, so I sat down and gathered my thoughts and emailed her back. The question continued to gnaw at me, so I kept my response, knowing that at some time I should address the issue in a more public way.

As I am sure you have noticed, many of the posts on the Schoolhouse Rocked website and Facebook page emphasize a Christian worldview. This will continue to be the case, as my wife and I are Christians. We are in our seventh year of homeschooling our own daughters, and one of the main reasons we chose to homeschool was to provide a great Biblical education for our girls. Schoolhouse Rocked is an outgrowth of our love of homeschooling, our belief that it is important and beneficial, and our desire to support and encourage other homeschooling families. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to make the movie and because it is such a personal project it will obviously be colored by our beliefs and values. Additionally, many, though not all, of the cast members are Christian leaders in the homeschooling movement and their faith has influenced their contributions to the film.

While the film will have a Christian point of view, the majority of the content will benefit all homeschoolers, as it will break down many of the misconceptions about homeschooling and will provide practical advice and encouragement for homeschooling families.

In Hollywood, “faith-based films” is a politically correct catchphrase for movies like Schoolhouse Rocked. There is no doubt that the film is faith-based, but even more to the point it is a Christian film. Schoolhouse Rocked will hold up Biblical values and will encourage parents to train up their children in Christian morals, values, and ethics. These are many of the same universally beneficial principles that our country was founded on (love your neighbor as yourself, don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t covet, don’t lie, etc.), and that for several generations have been the foundation of a prosperous, safe, and truly “tolerant” society – one which allowed for secular families (and families from every other religious background) to prosper alongside Christian families. These same values have been largely abandoned in the past 50 years in society, leading to widespread cultural decay, unchecked immorality, and rampant violence in spite of ever-increasing government legislation. Public schools have reflected this great societal shift and have become unsafe, academically ineffective, and intolerant “safe spaces” so obviously lacking in value that secular families are now pulling their kids out in droves.

It is our goal to empower all homeschool families to better enjoy the benefits of homeschooling by clearly outlining the common challenges and then providing real-world advice and access to resources to overcome these challenges. In an effort to encourage the support of family and friends of homeschoolers, the movie will also dispel many myths that can lead to opposition to homeschooling. Finally, the movie will provide heart-felt encouragement from real people who have experienced the common struggles and blessings of homeschooling. We believe that by providing a realistic picture of the benefits, challenges, and real-world outcomes of homeschooling, by disseminating wise advice and valuable resources, and by offering heart-felt encouragement we can effectively carry out our mission.

Schoolhouse Rocked doesn’t just give lip service to the homeschool revolution. We believe that we are at the leading edge of a very real revolution in education, which will provide enormous societal benefits. Therefore, we want to provide valuable tools for current homeschoolers and encourage the next wave of families to join the revolution. Along with the film, SchoolhouseRocked.com will offer many hours of free and subscription content, including videos, articles, product reviews, and recommendations to equip the next generation of world changers.

It may surprise you to find out we didn’t set out to make a Christian homeschool movie. When we started pre-production on Schoolhouse Rocked we were excited about the opportunity to advocate for homeschooling and point families in the right direction to get started, knowing that a large majority of homeschooling families were Christian, but that there was also a very large contingent of secular families and families from other religious backgrounds who were a part of this revolution in education. The reasons for choosing to homeschool are many and varied. Each homeschooling family exhibits a commitment to training their own children that is no less resolute and requires no less sacrifice or determination than that of any other family. While the worldview, educational philosophy, and goals of every homeschool family are different, every homeschooling family can benefit from heartfelt encouragement grounded in experience, excellent resources, and the generously shared wisdom of experts. That is what we set out to share, and while we did not initially set out to make a Christian film, we were never opposed to it. Like many documentaries, we were not sure how the story would evolve over time. As filming progressed it quickly became apparent that Christian principles would be central to the story, as they figured so heavily in many of the interviews we conducted, as can be seen in the example below.


Andrew Kern – Seek Ye First

I hope that Schoolhouse Rocked will be a valuable resource and encouragement for you. Our mission with the film, website, and Facebook page is to encourage and equip homeschooling families to start strong and finish well. We believe that homeschooling is one of the most practical ways a family can invest in their children’s future, and we are encouraged to see the growth in the homeschooling movement and the wealth of resources available to homeschooling families. While many may consider the growing homeschool movement to be a simple response to the decline of public schools, we believe that it signals something more important and valuable, namely a desire for families to take personal responsibility for the training of their children. It is one thing to complain about public schools, it is another thing entirely to make the great sacrifices and investments of time and effort to homeschool your children. We believe that this change of hearts and commitment to our children will yield great results for our society and culture as these kids become adults and leaders.

That said, we (Garritt and Yvette Hampton) are Christians and we are committed to working for the glory of God in all we do (knowing we fail many times, but thankful he uses unworthy and unqualified people to do His work). When we started we dedicated the project to the Lord, set out to make it for His glory, and asked for His blessing and supernatural provision. He has provided and continues to provide in miraculous ways. He is being glorified!

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