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I Need a 25-hour Day!

by Pete Storz

One of the fun and challenging aspects of leading a support group is balancing helping folks (especially those who are just starting) with family time. As you and your group become known as willing to help people, you will be sought out. Helping newbies start out is one of the more valuable things a support group can do; experienced homeschoolers need assistance and encouragement too. Then there are things like meeting and field trip planning, newsletters, and the administrative "stuff" almost no one loves.

With all this, you need to be sure the energy and time you devote to the support group work for your family. They are the first priority. Here are some ideas (no special order):

  • Make sure your spouse and your munchkins help out with house stuff (they should be anyway!); make a point of showing everyone where the broom, dust pan, mop, and vacuum cleaner are, and how to use them; running the house is part of being a family, as well as part of your children's education (and your future daughters-in-law will bless you!)
  • Consider having planned times for talking with folks ("office hours"); once folks get past what might seem like coldness, they'll appreciate knowing there are times when they have a good chance of being able to speak with you, and that you'll be able to focus on what you are discussing
  • Get an answering machine and screen calls; I know, this too sounds cold, rude and all those other adjectives, but it will give you the flexibility to keep doing something when an interruption would be disruptive, or to pick up a call when it is urgent or you are interruptible; and if you don't pick up a call, you'll be able to hear the question and be prepared to answer when you call the person back
  • Since there are questions you'll hear frequently, have your answers for those questions prepared ahead of time; this is much more efficient than reformulating your answer every time, and will help you avoid forgetting part of the answer to a question
  • Set up a newbies night (or morning or afternoon; I just liked the alliteration) so you can share the time among several families and multiply the value of your time and advice; doing it with Qs & As will help you address special concerns and help the folks start thinking through what will work for their family
  • Share the load (part 1); as soon as you recognize other helpful, experienced folks, arrange with them to share in the work and blessings of helping newbies and others; besides helping you keep from being spread too thin, it also brings a wider perspective to the ideas being shared
  • Share the load (part 2); not everyone does every task well; as mentioned in the article, "Delegation or Insanity? You Choose." above, delegating things like administrative "stuff." or the newsletter, or planning meetings can save your sanity, get a person doing the job who does it well, and also raise up future leaders
  • Share the load (part 3); have members of the group plan most of the field trips and activities; train yourself to say, "That sounds like a great idea! Could you organize it?" this lets the people who have interests organize the events which satisfy and share those interests; it also helps you spot potential future leaders.

Copyright © May 2002, Peter Storz and HomeschoolChristian.com

About the author: Pete Storz grew up in Woodland, CA, near Sacramento. His family attended a Lutheran church, and for grades 1 through 3, Pete attended the private school run by that church, and public schools thereafter. Pete attended a college in Phoenix, AZ, graduating with an Associate's degree. While in Phoenix, Pete worked in a Christian bookstore and tape library, was involved in a ministry that reached out to Jehovah's Witnesses, and ran sound for several local contemporary Christian music bands. Pete moved to "Silicon Valley" to work in electronics and be closer to his parents. He met Becky in 1978 at a church, and they were married in 1980. They have three children, Suzy, Chris, and Katie. Becky first heard of homeschooling on a Focus on the Family program, and about a video seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore that was to be hosted at a nearby church by his daughter. After attending this and a seminar by Gregg Harris, Pete and Becky were encouraged to believe that they could homeschool their children. Remembering that first year or two, when support was crucial but hard to find, Pete and Becky started a support group in 1992 with a special emphasis on fellowship, person-to-person support, and helping new homeschoolers get started. Though Pete and Becky stepped down from leadership after 4 years, SELAH Christian Schools continues to assist homeschoolers in the San Jose, California area. Pete and Becky continue to publish a resource directory for San Jose area homeschoolers as well as other support activities.

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