HOMESCHOOL WITH A FRIEND…OR 2… OR 10!
by Dalena Wallace
Every Wednesday my family meets with 10 other homeschool families to learn, laugh, and do life together. We share a meal, memorize scripture, sings hymns, and try our hand at painting famous Masterpieces. The children have a Science teacher who actually loves Science. (Imagine that! She even does all the cool experiments!) The kids have plenty of time to play, and the moms have plenty of time to talk. We all do our part to make the day run smoothly and it has been a blessing for each of the families involved. Our group is called Apollos Scholé Community, (check out the website below and Matt. 18:24-28 for more info about our name). I wanted to share the history of our little community in hopes that it may spark your interest in doing something similar.
Perhaps you long for some partnership in this whole homeschooling business and you don’t want to do every single subject alone. Maybe you would like to have a little interaction with others and get out of the mid-week slump. In fact, that is how our Scholé group came to be.
This journey began about 5 years ago. At that time, I had 1 baby, 1 toddler, 2 preschoolers and 2 school age kids. And to top it all off my husband was often traveling! That left me at home alone trying to juggle it all. I wanted so badly to be present for my baby and toddlers but felt pulled toward the school table to work with my school-age kids.
It didn’t take long before I realized that I needed help. I had a dear friend that I would call on during the mid-week slump….(I called those days my “weepy Wednesdays”). Each Wednesday, my friend would bring her kids and their schoolwork and we would simply do school together. We would take turns, one mom with the big kids doing school and one mom watching the littles. I look back at those days with fond memories. They were my lifeline during a very desperate season. Little did I know that those days would be the beginning of a beautiful community that we have today. We were laying a foundation and growing roots that would one day allow us to include others and be a blessing to several families.
Gradually, the two of us began to coordinate our subjects and teach certain classes together. We were intentional to plan our subjects in a way that made sense and made the best use of our time together. After our second year together, we invited one more friend to join us for classes. For a time, we had 3 families and we gathered each week to share subjects such as Geography, Latin, Grammar, Writing and Rhetoric. We always shared a meal together and we were always intentional to allow playtime for the kids and plenty of time for us to visit as moms. We shared many beautiful, messy, intimate moments together. Some days were harder than others. There were times when we just needed each other emotionally and school fell by the wayside, (the kids were never too upset when those days happened!) We were three moms, teaching classes, disciplining our kids, handling tantrums and bad attitudes, making lunches, and chasing little ones…but we were doing it together!
The next year we included one other family in our Writing class, and the year after that we learned of a mom who wanted to teach Science. Wow! What an answer to prayer that was! None of us were excited about doing Science with our kiddos and it was an easy decision to take her up on this offer.
Up until this point, we had been meeting in our homes, but we realized it would work better if we had actual classrooms and an area for the preschoolers and toddlers. So, we made a move. Our church owns an old school building that sits vacant all week long except for Wednesday nights. I asked them if we could meet there during the day and they graciously agreed! This additional space allowed us to extend the offer to a handful of other families that we knew, but we still wanted to preserve the close-knit feeling of community. We love the idea of sharing this day with other families, and yet, we felt a need to keep it small and manageable.
One of the mottos of our group is “multum non multa”. This is a latin phrase which describes our goal. Essentially, it means “more rather than much”. This applies to our schedule, (allowing plenty of time to learn in a relaxed, and leisurely way), but it also applies to our size.
We prefer to stay small rather than grow too big and risk losing the feeling of intimacy. Honestly, that has been the biggest challenge, finding the right balance between growing big or growing deep. It seems like something so wonderful should be shared with everyone, but we have decided to keep it small. Rather than inviting others to join us, we want to encourage others to do something similar.
Our day together with our small community has been such a blessing for our family, and it’s my desire to help others do something similar with their own group of friends. It only takes one other mom to help lighten the load and lift your spirits! To some people, the idea of doing school as a community with 10 other moms does not sound appealing, but meeting with one friend during the week to share a class sounds ideal. There is no right way to do community-style homeschooling. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Do what works for you!
This model is simple to duplicate. We follow the outline and resources available through Classical Academic Press (https://scholegroups.com/many of you would know them for their book Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie), but there are many other resources available for those who would like to start community-style homeschooling.
I am happy to give you some tips or suggestions, but my best piece of advice is to start small (and maybe just stay small). It is a joy to do school with others and sometimes smaller is better.