Homeschooling can be a lonely endeavor, kind of like walking on a rickety rope bridge with the hopes that the ropes are strong enough to carry you across to the other side. One of the key ways to make this giant task a lot less scary is to have a mentor. Mentoring has become a way of life for people in all walks of life. Professionally, spiritually, and personally – a good mentor is worth their weight in gold.
I have a few mentors in my life, some for very specific areas in life and others for more general or widespread personal development. My homeschool mentors were never set up very formally; instead it all happened very naturally through asking questions. Lots of questions… and I’ve yet to meet a new homeschooler that didn’t have a lot of questions.
When I have found myself stumped with curriculum choices, learning blocks, or run of the mill February slumps, I usually find myself on the phone with one of these ladies.
A good mentor:
- Asks questions from perspectives different than mine
- Calms silly concerns
- Highlights places that need more attention
Sometimes we are so close to our kids that we can’t see the forest for the trees, having another set of eyes is helpful. Eric Parsloe, director of The Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring says “mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be”. Parsloe was specifically referring to professional mentors, but I believe this applies to us as homeschoolers, too. In fact, the language he uses even sounds like the goals many homeschoolers have for their own kids…. supporting, encouraging, managing their own learning, maximize potential, etc.!
Today’s technology and social networking has its drawbacks, but it comes in handy when looking for help from someone who has been down these homeschool paths before. You can find loads of encouragement from other parents online and, as weird as it sounds, develop great friendships with these people. Interestingly enough, the second you find a mentor, you can become one as well. Watch for others who are also looking a little lost or worried. Link arms with those before you and behind you and get the task done.
So, when you are walking along that rickety rope bridge of homeschooling and you’re wondering if it will hold up to your weight, look on across and see that there are many others who have crossed that bridge before you safely. They made it across, you’ll make it across and so will loads of other people behind you. One mentorship relationship can look vastly different from every other mentoring relationship. Don’t expect it to look cookie-cutter, because after all, we aren’t cookies either.
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.