Ways to Support Home Educators
Helping and empowering home educators is one of the easiest ways to support independent education.
These ideas can be used by churches, groups or individuals. Many of them would also be useful in helping parents who have children in private schools and could even be adapted to help the schools themselves.
- The easiest way to help is through simple encouragement. Praise can be a powerful incentive to plow forward and do better. Try words of praise, notes of praise or even a special Home School Day in your church or group. Grandparents and others might adapt Home School Day and do it on a smaller scale – throw a little party or go out to eat to celebrate.
- Provide moms with a break. A mother’s day out program provides moms with a chance to recoup, get some shopping done or do some extra school preparation.
- Provide facilities for home education meetings or activities. Home educators are always looking for someplace to have PE or do a science fair or exhibition or just to have regular support group meetings.
- Provide a resource library. This can be a free service or a subscription service (though you might want to make scholarships available for some). Good items to stock in a resource library are books about how to homeschool, parenting books, reference materials, science videos, documentaries. You might also include a section where parents can sell or trade curriculum as well as a log where parents can rate their satisfaction with certain materials.
- Provide a directory or bulletin board where people can advertise services and needs. This may seem simple enough, but it is truly amazing how often people in the same group have a need and there’s someone else who could fulfill it, but no one is communicating. Provide a vehicle for such communication. Maybe a retired person would like to earn a little extra teaching a skill or sharing special knowledge or helping with child care. Maybe a teen would like to work as a mother’s helper or do chores. Maybe a teacher or someone else would like to tutor math or English. Maybe a businessman is looking for an apprentice. Post suggestions to get people’s minds rolling.
- Sponsor workshops or seminars for parents. If you have church or group members or personal expertise in some area that might help parents, arrange to share it during a regular home education meeting or at a specially arranged event. Speakers might include home education leaders, business leaders, college representatives, teachers, motivational speakers, authors, anyone with some knowledge that might help home educators.
- Start an “Adopt a Family” program, in which retired members of your group help with teaching or child care. This could be a once-a-week or once-a-month endeavor, or it could be short term “assignments” – to teach a particular skill, such as knitting or how to change the oil in a car. It could even be a reciprocal program in which the individuals involved adopt one another and help where help is needed.
- Start a special fund to help families purchase curriculum or pay for private schooling.
- Start a study hall for teens. This is a bigger undertaking and would involve some planning, but it would be a wonderful service for home educators, even creating circumstances under which more people could commit to independent education. Students would gather two or more mornings or afternoons a week (three or more would be best), bringing their own work and books with them. Clear rules of conduct should be understood and the study hall should be adult-supervised at all times, preferably by someone who could also help with things like math. Students should only bring work they can do on their own or for which there will be help. A good variety of reference materials would also be useful. Occasional special programs or speakers would be a nice addition, too. An organized, disciplined atmosphere for study can be very useful and challenging for teens and very helpful for parents trying to teach multiple grade levels.
- Sponsor workshops for students. One-time workshops are great for home educators and others, too. Committing to year-long classes can be too much of a time and financial burden. It’s surprising what can be covered in a workshop. One Georgia home educator does a six-hour grammar workshop for ages fifteen and up — it’s a crash course in grammar, beginning to end. There are literally thousands of topics that can be covered in workshops lasting from a couple of hours to all day, and because you’re dealing with a group of students, costs can be kept reasonable (and scholarships offered where necessary).
- Ask home educators what services would benefit them most. Also meet with parents whose children are in public school and find out if there are services that would encourage or enable them to take the leap into independence.
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Last updated October 29, 2007
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