Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday's Answer: Keeping the Experienced Coming Back

How do you keep experienced homeschoolers in your homeschool group when they do not feel they need the support anymore? When they leave, it leaves a group new homeschooler heavy. What to do? No sense in piling guilt and more to do on top of an already overburdened home educator!

Support groups and co-ops grow because homeschoolers have needs. They need to know they are not alone; they need encouragement and affirmation to keep going; they need help with a particular subject; they need like-minded friends for themselves and their children; they need to know how to homeschool. These needs drive them to join a group, to find their niche and pull their weight.

When experienced homeschoolers have several years under their belt, their needs change and actually lighten. They are now confident in their own style of homeschooling; they have already developed lasting friendships; they know their plans for the next subject; they are willing to stand alone; and they realize the need for being home. All of sudden you as a leader realize that they are not coming to the group anymore. If you are an experienced homeschooler yourself, you may even feel left alone.

Drawing these experienced homeschoolers back into the group takes time and patience and understanding. Consider these steps that can bring experienced members back into the group:
  1. Give them freedom ~ Do not nag them to be at every event. Realize they have learned the wisdom to choose events carefully for their family's time and best purposes.
  2. Give them space ~ Let them relax and have a good time without always expecting them to answer every question and take care of every need. Don't interrupt their conversations, wear them out, or give them a reason to avoid the group.
  3. Give them the support they need ~ Ask these important members what each one in their family needs now. Listen to what excites them and their family, what they would like to be involved in, what questions they are wondering, and where their focus is taking them. Take a few cues and create fresh, new support, new topics or new activities that will get them involved and bless them where they are.
  4. Give them a Smoother Way ~ One member of the group can teach the wonderful program of Smoothing the Way to all the newbies. This will free up the experienced members from having to answer the same questions over and over from the new members. Also, your newbies will grow experienced quickly from the wisdom of Mary James in this once-a-month support class. See this wonderful program here.

We know it's difficult to balance the needs of all the members in your group, but you can do this. Just relax, listen and be patiently consistent in supporting these wonderful, experienced homeschoolers. Watch for our new e-book on motivating your members that will be packed with even more advice on drawing and inspiring experienced homeschoolers.

May your day be smooth,

Denise and Kristen

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1 comment:

Stacy and David said...

Thanks for identifying this need. We have many veterans who have pulled back and have not really surveyed their needs specifically. We just did one group-wide survey for the end of the year and it was the newbies (to our group or to home education) that were clearly more needy, in general. In our case, it was the questions we asked that determined what data (needs) were collected. In the future, we will be more careful to ask questions of the veterans, too. Great insight, ladies!

Blessings to you both,