Homeschooling Through High School
November 2, 2006

Mentoring For Groups

By Diane Kummer and Becky Cooke
HSLDA High School Coordinators

Most homeschool moms can fondly remember other moms who were a help to them when they first started homeschooling. Mentoring and being mentored are two aspects of homeschooling that serve essential purposes. For the mentor, passing on tips, experiences, and support to others comes naturally. But for the mom being mentored, the help and encouragement given by a more experienced homeschooling mom is a treasure, and some days a real lifesaver!

Your local support group may want to invest some time in developing a network of mentoring for your members. Since homeschooling moms are the busiest people we know, you may want to keep it as simple as having a list of moms who are able to mentor and another list of moms who desire to be mentored. Distribute and update this list perhaps once or twice a year and let the moms pair themselves up as the opportunity arises. Or perhaps your support group is ready for a more formal mentoring program, and you need help getting started.

Vicki Bentley, a longtime board member of Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV), began a mentoring program in her state for the support group she leads. Mentors meet once a week for eight weeks with a small group of moms who desire to be mentored. Each week a different topic is discussed and new moms have the benefit of being tutored in all facets of homeschooling—from choosing curriculum to organizing their time, to putting dinner on the table.

Vicki’s heart to serve others and share the benefits of mentoring led her to write a book, Home Education 101—A Mentor’s Manual which is available online. The manual gives the mentor detailed steps to take in bringing along a new generation of homeschoolers. Although most veteran moms do not need one more thing to do and may even feel as if they don’t have much to offer to new homeschoolers, Vicki’s manual is a helpful outline your support group can easily follow to encourage new homeschoolers. Vicki's companion workbook for moms being mentored, Home Education 101: A Mentoring Program for New Homeschoolers, is also available online.

Here are some comments from both moms who mentored and the moms who were blessed by them. They may just inspire you to begin a mentoring program within your local support group!

“Well, the meetings seem to be going very well—what an enthusiastic group! Lots of questions and discussion—seems like some good friendships are being formed! I feel that it has been a privilege to get to know these wonderful moms. It has blessed and encouraged me! Looks like we have a great group of ‘future’ homeschoolers here!”

“As a mom who is certain she wants to homeschool, but didn’t know anyone else who homeschooled until I joined a support group, the mentoring sessions have been so helpful to me. The sessions break down the different issues we will face while homeschooling (choosing curriculum, keeping order in our homes, understanding learning styles, etc.) and encourage the group members to discuss each issue in depth and to share practical advice. I leave each session relieved that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, encouraged by the support of the other moms (experienced homeschoolers or not), and confident that I can do this. A bonus of these sessions is the fellowship aspect. By meeting in a small group, there is more sharing and intimacy than when we meet in the large support group, and I now see these other ladies as friends and not just fellow teachers.”

“I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. The hug you gave me last night [at the mentoring meeting] was just what I needed. It has been an extremely stressful week for me. Yesterday was the worst day.... I am just having trouble dealing with everything. I am so committed to homeschooling, but everyday I get pressured to allow her back to public school. I feel like I’m walking on egg shells. However I received a gift last night I really needed. That was the reassurance from you that I can make it. I’m taking it one day at a time. Thank you! Thank you!”