Thursday, January 31, 2013

How do I Lead a Homeschool Group...& Homeschool

This morning I was delighted to see this post by Christine, a homeschool mother and homeschool group leader. Her love for life and others really shined through her words. After reading it and seeing the fun, personal pictures, I feel as if I know her a little bit. I really like her sense of adventure and her jump-all-in-and-learn way of tackling this challenge.

How do I lead a Homeschool Group… And Homeschool

When I get asked this question, the tone usually implies that I have lost my mind. Maybe I have. Of my serial obsessions, leading Eagle’s Wings Co-op stands out as a real adventure.

Continued here:

I know you'll enjoy it, too. :-)

P.S. Now, I've GOT to get that book, Coaching Your Kids to be Leaders!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Do Not Grow Weary

This heart-warming encouragement comes from a dear friend and is for you today. Whether you are weary in homeschooling, in tough situations, or in leadership, this is a great message. May the Lord lift you up and fill you with strength today.

Do Not Grow Weary

by Sheila Campbell

One winter we received several inches of snow just after Christmas. The first days of the snow were joyous; the hazy winter sky and the snow-covered yard were beautiful, and being snowed in gave us some much-needed family time. It had been a very hectic and busy fall season, and I felt we needed some leisure time, so we canceled school for the week.

It was on one of those leisurely vacation days that the Lord reminded me of a valuable truth about faithfulness, strength, and joy. I was in the middle of feeding my oldest son, Justin. Due to a brain injury at the age of 5, Justin was severely handicapped, and although the break from therapists and caregivers had been a welcome reprieve from our usual schedule, several days without their assistance was beginning to wear on me. Justin was 15 at the time and weighed more than 120 lbs; transferring him from one place to another was no longer an easy task.

In the middle of his meal, he needed to get out of his wheelchair for a few minutes. “Oh, Justin, not now,” I groaned. For a moment I was angry with him, although he was not at fault. “Now it will take me twenty minutes longer to finish lunch,” I thought, as I pushed the wheelchair toward the bedroom, “plus two more transfers on my back,” I selfishly added.

Suddenly the Scripture “be not weary in well doing” came to my mind. The thought sharply admonished my soul. “Oh, Father,” I prayed, “forgive me of my selfishness.” The time was unimportant; I simply wanted a nap. I realized I was seeking my own solution to my weariness—both mental and physical, but I had forgotten the true source of strength, and that forgetfulness was robbing me of the joy of caring for my son.

I was reminded of the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31), and I remembered a sermon I had heard about this particular verse. The minister had encouraged his listeners to reconsider the definition of the words wait upon in this verse. Rather than “act with patience,” we should consider it to mean “to serve.” I thought about how my service to my children was my ministry to God and how blessed I was to be able to serve them. Ministry is not service to God when we serve begrudgingly or out of obligation, because then it becomes a duty rather than ministry. Ministry should be a service from the heart. When we serve out of a love that overflows from the heart, that service produces such exceedingly great joy that when we say to our children “it is my pleasure to do this for you,” it truly is.

Today I no longer have the joy of caring for my son. Justin went home to be with the Lord on March 3, 2004, at the age of 17, but the lesson I learned that day was forever etched into my memory. Over the years, when I have felt I deserved a break from the time and energy I was investing into homeschooling my children and running my household, the Lord has often brought it to mind. Yes, physical rest is important, but when we seek to renew our spirits in our own strength, we will repeatedly find ourselves lacking. It is a comfort to remember the words of Psalm 84:5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee . . . .”

Sheila Campbell began homeschooling in 1991, and after the death of her husband in 2001, she homeschooled as a single parent. She also was the parent of a special needs child whom she cared for at home until his death in 2004. These difficulties have strengthened her walk with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it is her prayer that her words will encourage and inspire others. Sheila invites you to visit her blog at

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free TOS apps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

10 Essential Elements of a Thriving Homeschool Co-Op

Written by Joy Kita

The pleasures of homeschooling our children are many, the rewards great, and the challenges plentiful. Busy days of math and science supplemented with designated chores and carefully planned recreational activities consume our time. Our days blur into one another, and before we can catch a restorative breath, we find ourselves stuck in the deep rut of our daily grind. This is not burnout or a breakdown; it is the plain reality of homeschool life. Changing course and trying something new can restore the simple pleasures that teaching our children at home inspires. A homeschool co-op run and operated by like-minded families is an excellent way to find clarity of purpose.

Co-ops offer a variety of options for homeschooling families. As a thriving learning atmosphere, a co-op provides a safe place for children to grow intellectually and spiritually as parents collaborate to promote confidence and independence in their children. Having other parents teach unfamiliar subjects alleviates some of the pressure to “get it all done.” Parents also have an opportunity to develop new friendships and a setting in which to receive that much-needed encouragement to keep pressing onward.

Finding a co-op that suits a family’s needs may be a challenge, but the rewards are tangible results that serve to sustain us through difficult days. If there are no available co-ops within a reasonable distance, creating one can be a rewarding experience on multiple fronts. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a project too large or overwhelming to tackle. Initiating a thriving co-op yields results with a manageable amount of effort. Consider the words of an unknown author who once said: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.” Let’s look at some of the essential components of a successful homeschool co-op:

1. Strong Communication

Do not be afraid to use a variety of media to get your message out. Often you can combine several methods, including websites, emails, and phone calls. Clearly communicate the needs of the group and its purpose. Families will join because of shared goals that are clearly communicated and frequently affirmed.

2. Encouragement

Parents need words of affirmation, whether they are teaching classes or simply helping in the classes. They need to know they are heard and that others care about their needs. Working alongside each other and offering valuable input and ideas is essential in order to build up your volunteers. Be open to their ideas, provide clear examples, and be willing to discuss expectations.

3. Purpose and Goals

This is where your paper trail begins. Create a purpose statement that identifies everything you are trying to accomplish. Write up a standard set of guidelines for participating families to follow. Depending on your facility, additional rules and regulations may need to be set in place.

4. Good Ideas

This is the meat and potatoes of your organization. Never underestimate the power of creativity, a natural force that transforms minds and transcends the ages. Encourage those who do not feel they excel in this area to vocalize their thoughts, and brainstorm with the group often.

5. Parent Participation

The general rule of 20/80 where 20% of the people do 80% of the work has no place in a co-op. These groups can succeed only if all parents are willing to faithfully volunteer their time and resources for a common purpose. This is where clear rules and guidelines and a strong purpose statement become essential.

6. Facility

Finding the right venue to conduct your classes is important but does not need to be a complicated process. If your group is small enough, meeting in a variety of homes on alternating days suffices. If your group becomes too large to fit in the kitchen or family room, look to local churches for support. Most churches are usually looking for ways to interact with and support community members.

7. Leadership

Strong leadership is an essential element of any organization. Wonderful ideas and grandiose dreams are good, paramount even, but without someone to follow through on the more mundane aspects of a co-op, those ideas are useless. To direct the group, you will need at least two people, which lessens the pressure and helps promote fairness. A good leader should always be looking to mentor others.

8. Flexibility

A co-op is a mosaic of families with different needs and desires. Even with a shared purpose of educating children there always will be unique factors to consider as you are trying to accommodate everyone’s needs. Consider families with many children. Does the co-op have enough options for older students? Perhaps they can be youth helpers in the nursery, or perhaps they could use a study room for independent work projects. Will you bend the rules for sick children? How about doctors’ appointments? Determine the hard lines and soften the others.

9. Resources

Take the time to build up a library of homeschool resource books, educational textbooks, Christian novels, and fun games. There are many different ways to do this. Some reading programs offer credits toward new books. Save up credits and buy wisely. Libraries often give away older books. Provide a donation box for parents to share what they no longer need. Have a fundraiser and use the profits to purchase curriculum.

10. Excitement/Fun

Do not take things too seriously. Doing so may sabotage the project before it can begin to thrive. Celebrate the end of a semester with a party. Have Christmas cookie exchanges and talent shows. Encourage the children to brainstorm as they compose a group song that they sing each week. Encourage teachers to use creative motivational teaching methods such as “building” an ice cream sundae with completed homework.

Excitement is contagious. Demonstrate sincere interest in, and gratefulness for, the classes and in what is being taught. Infusing the group with enthusiasm is easy if the leaders have genuine affection for learning and a passion to inspire others to join the party.

Co-ops are as unique and diverse as the families who join them. They are a rich source of information and a launching pad for great thoughts and ideas. There is strength in community, and co-ops are a foundation for thriving, Christ-centered fellowship.

Joy Kita is a mother of four and is the blessed wife of Stan. She has been homeschooling for seven years and is currently the director of a thriving co-op with more than eighty children. She is a fiction author for children, specializing in adventures for boys. She tries to stay motivated by her all-consuming love for the Father.

(Sidebar) Creative Classes
Make your own tie blankets (easy enough for 7- and 8-year-olds)
King Arthur’s Quest—medieval journey
Sing your heart out—praise and worship for kids
Drama—skits and speeches
Electricity—build your own electric car with simple circuits
Writing 101—practical writing skills, such as the five-paragraph essay
Creative writing
Book making
Wildlife management
Survivor Class
Baking basic bread
Make your own soup
Dissect owl pellets
Paper purses
Nature crafts
Simple science experiments for 5- and 6-year-olds
Movie making/editing

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best AND Worst

Recently I heard one of the nicest compliments ever about our local homeschool group. This member lady said,"I never feel like just a number in this group. Our homeschool group feels very friendly and close." This really made me feel good, because as president of the homeschool group, this had been one of my main goals.

However, my 'happy bubble' was burst a few days later when I was making some calls. One family that hadn't attended in a while emphatically informed me that they had never felt at home or in fellowship with our group, they didn't like the different religious views, and they were opposed to some of the homeschool philosophies in the group. I was a little stunned, but continued to talk with this lady to investigate the root of these struggles.

What do you do in times like these? How do you deal with your feelings inside when confronted like this?
  • First, you don't take it personally. I know, it's very difficult! I had to swallow a couple of times, send a prayer-flare, and focus on trying to learn from the problem instead of internalizing it.
  • Then ask a few clarifying questions while you settle your feelings and get a handle on the true cause of the discontent. I started with the fellowship, asking her to describe when she felt left out. Ended up it was on a FYI field trip where everyone took their families through the displays on their own. It was a misconception about the type of field trip. Then I tackled the religious view differences and the homeschool philosophies that she had encountered.
  • As we discussed each one, I realized that most of these were things that I couldn't change her mind on. At that point, I just reassured her of her welcome, pointed out a couple of things to counter her viewpoint, and let her go.
  • Yes, I ended it. I wished her well, telling her I hoped she would find a perfect fellowship for her and her son. Sometimes that is the best policy. Don't beg them to stay, or try to fix it perfectly. Let them go with genuine care and kindness.
  • Next, realize what you can learn and improve. Put your energy into doing what you truly can do. Nurture the strengths of the group. Follow your God-given goals for the group and the purpose of your homeschool group.
  • Remember, you can't please everyone, so again, don't take it personally!
  • Oh, and yeah. . . . focus on the compliment again! Look at all the families that ARE receiving strength from your group. You are doing a great service! Your ministering IS making a difference.
You are a Homeschool Group LEADER! Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Tip

Best Tips from Around the Country!

Join the conversations at "I am a Homeschool Group Leader" on Facebook for some great advice, answers and encouragement. You must be a homeschool group leader to be allowed to join. But once on, the discussions are GREAT!

"Homeschool group leaders need support, too! This group was created to provide homeschool group leaders a safe place where they can be uplifted and connected with others who know just how they feel. Members are encouraged to ask questions and share their ideas and insights and advice in a relaxed and positive atmosphere."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tip

Thankful for You

What a beautiful time of year! We get to uplift others and honor the Lord through the gorgeous virtue of gratefulness. Remembering the important role all others have had in building us up lets us see our lives through the joyfully rich colors of humility. This week let your faithful volunteers know how much they have given, how much they are appreciated.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945);
Pastor, Theologian, German Resistance Fighter In World War 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Tip

people in the world

people in the United States

people estimated to be homeschoolers

people estimated average in local homeschool groups


Best leader tip of the day--Find ways to Learn and improve your people skills. With all the people in the world, you're going to need them! =)

"The heart of the righteous studies how to answer."  Proverbs 15:28 NKJV

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 NKJV