I’m nearing the end of a two year term as a co-leader at a local homeschool co-op. During this time, I’ve also taken turns managing administrative things with another homeschool group. I’ve learned a few things in this time, and in sha Allah I’ll take it with me as I head into the coming years. After all, I have two little ones and will in sha Allah be doing this whole homeschool mom thing for quite some time!
What I Learned as a Homeschool Group Co-Leader
It’s a bit cliche, but it’s true: you can’t make everyone happy. It is absolutely impossible. One person loves the science teacher, the other things the teacher is a waste of time. One person wants to meet at one location, it doesn’t work for another. And frankly, there are some people you just can’t make happy. It is best to accept that you try your best and aim for the common good while realizing someone will probably dislike what’s happening.
Consider the community
Now that we’ve established that we can’t please everyone, how in the world does a co-leader go about making decisions? Consider the audience, or the homeschool community you are trying to reach. What does the community want? What keeps people from signing up and joining in your group? Sometimes it is location, sometimes it is the perception about the established group, sometimes it is about the teachers. Imagine the ideal group of families for your group. Make decisions based on those families, mixed with the families you have already.
Bigger isn’t always better
It’s near human nature to want to see things grow and grow, but at some point, growth isn’t good anymore. Again thinking about the community that the homeschool group is trying to serve, you have to think about how big that community actually is. At some point growing the group bigger distorts the community feeling you’re looking for. Not all groups are meant to serve everyone, and that’s okay. Some of the only places that are meant to serve everyone are grocery stores, banks, and hotels… and even those will have things not everyone will take part in.
Teachers are #1
Really, they are. If you’re trying to provide a service to the community, the teachers are the ones that keep people coming back. You can be the greatest, most effective c0-leader, bringing great ideas to execution on a timely basis, but if the teachers are impatient, lacking rigor, or otherwise underwhelming, then nothing else matters.
Details, details, details
This, I’m still working on. You have to include all relevant details in one piece of communication (email, online forum post, etc.). Make sure to answer all the Who, What, Where, When, Why, How in the first communication you send about the matter. If it comes in a string of updates, it will be forgotten – you can be guaranteed.
Never say it once
People scan emails and half listen, it’s just a fact of life in our distracted age. We’re all guilty of it, just some of us double check before asking. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent an invitation that says, “Babysitters are recommended, but not required.” and someone will ask, “Can I bring my kids?” Uhh, let me copy and paste that for you, kthxbi. You will have to repeat yourself. Instead of being frustrated about it, just expect it and move on.
It’s not a chore
The moment you let yourself think of the co-leader position as a chore, you treat it like one. How many piles of laundry have you seen on Instagram or FB because we consider it a chore? What would your homeschool group work look like if it could be materialized into laundry or dishes? The fact that the group exists and in sha Allah provides a service to the community is a blessing, and should be thought of as a privilege to be a part of it. Have I always felt like co-leading was a privilege? No, but that just makes this lesson more real. To feel a sense of pride in the volunteer work brings it past the chore stage, and into something you put your heart into, in sha Allah.