When I think about how to begin talking about mentoring, I guess I could talk about how I have seen mentoring in action as I travel around to different support groups with my husband, Jim, who is FPEA District 9 Director. How good it is to see new homeschooling moms invited to sit with moms who have a few years under their belts. The new moms start out very quiet and ask few questions. As time goes on, they feel more and more comfortable and secure, and start asking about everything they aren’t sure of. It is awesome to then hear laughter and sighs of relief, and it gives us hope that new families are on their way on this wonderful journey of homeschooling.
Or maybe I could talk about how teens on a volleyball team welcome and offer help and encouragement to the girls who are just joining. They realize it takes understanding of the game and support and friendship of teammates to cultivate new talent. Making new friends along the way is something I know my daughters enjoy. What better way to build team spirit than by working together?
There are many different ways of mentoring, and sometimes you might be mentoring someone and not even know you are doing it. Leaders in the homeschool arena can’t be everywhere and answer all questions. Articles and speakers aren’t able to address everyone’s needs and concerns all the time. That being said, a lot of the teaching and commitment to encourage and fulfill the role of mentor has to come from within the community of homeschoolers itself. Are you up for the challenge?
To be a mentor is to contribute to a future of teaching and learning outside of the box of public education. The homeschool community can never have enough mentors. You will be rewarded with a fulfilling sense of wisdom and understanding while contributing to the success of another parent and family. How wonderful would the world be if in every aspect of life, people would be willing to share their knowledge with those who are new to something or struggling with a perceived obstacle. We have all been there are some point, and more than likely will be again. Look for a mentor, and then work with that mentor until you are ready to mentor someone yourself and share your experiences in all you do.
You may be new to this adventure we call homeschooling, so you may be asking yourself, “How can I help mentor anyone? I don’t have all the answers.” Well, good news – no one has all the answers, and all of us are still out there reaching out to others with the knowledge we have acquired. Even if you have only been involved for a year or two, or even a month or two, you can help beginners by answering their questions about how to get started and what resources to use. If you are out there doing it, you can help others.
If you are brand-new, please know that there are plenty of others out there who are willing and able to help you get started. If you find someone who helps a little but can’t answer everything, just find others to fill in the gaps. There are many different ways to homeschool, and not everyone you speak with will have the same style and interests as you and your child.
As you continue on this homeschooling journey on which you’ve found yourself in one way or another, please know that you are not alone. Don’t ever think that there isn’t anyone who can help you. Seek out the experience, encouragement and support of those around you who have been along the same journey. They might not be aware of your situation, but if they were, they would be more than happy to help guide you. They might also be able to recommend resources that will help smooth out the road that lies in front of you.
A great place for mentoring is at the annual FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention. Also, look for support group get-togethers and activities. Mentoring doesn’t stop with the adults or parent-to-parent advising and helping. There are lots of opportunities available for our children to either be mentored or do the mentoring in their day-to-day conversations with friends or their peer group. Children who have been homeschooled a while are able to offer some insight to newer ones.
During the Convention we will have a whole booth set aside with moms who feel they have some knowledge to offer to parents, no matter where they may be on their home education journey. Please stop in and see us. If you are more of a veteran in areas of home education, either as a mom, dad or even a grandparent, and you are interested in offering your mentoring skill to others at Convention, please email me and I will be happy to tell you what is involved and then get you more information on our booth.