We, homeschool moms, are quick to celebrate the accomplishments of our kids. We start the school year with special back-to-homeschool traditions, we invest a considerable amount of time and money in preparation for that first day, and we launch with all the excitement of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
For the rest of the year, we plant ourselves on the sidelines and cheer loud. louder. loudest for our kids. We wave our proud-momma banner wildly and praise each of their tiny educational steps forward.
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That's what we do. We're moms.
Sadly, we do something else too.
More often than not, while we rally behind our kids and applaud their efforts, we seem to also tear ourselves down. Let's face it, most women live in a committed, life-long relationship with self-doubt. For the homeschool mom, that self-doubt is multiplied by the full weight of a child's education. So, we mentally take note of our shortcomings and all the many ways someone else would do a better job. We cheer for them and boo ourselves.
In an attempt to do something about THAT unhealthy and unhelpful personal narrative that plagues so many, I threw a party. I invited a heap of wonderful homeschooling mothers and spent an evening celebrating their collective awesomeness.
It was a back-to-homeschool party, MOMS ONLY!
Here's a quick peek at the evening...
Everyone was asked to bring three items to the party.
- a dessert or appetizer to share
- a verse of rhema that has been encouraging to them at some point in their homeschooling journey
- a favorite indulgence item (x3) brought in a little gift bag (Items had to be less than $5 and had to be bought three times. Examples of "favorites" could include a GO TO lipgloss, a pair of socks that fit just right, a package of gourmet chocolates, a bottle of flavored tea, a MUST HAVE oven mitt. It didn't matter what it was as long as it was under $5 and was purchased three times.)
When guests arrived, I gave them a name tag and assigned them each a number. They were to write their name and number on the tag and wear it throughout the evening.
Since a few of the guests did not know many others, I asked everyone to introduce themselves to the group and to tell us all the answer to this question.
"What part of homeschooling do you ROCK?"The answers ranged from keeping a consistent schedule to tapping into each child's passions and gifts.
Rhema VersesNext, I asked each guest to share the rhema verse that she had brought with her and to tell how and why that verse held meaning to her homeschool.
When all the verses were read, I passed around a bucket full of pens and blank notecards. I asked each mom to take a notecard, self-address it, and stick it back into the bucket. When all the notecards were addressed, I sent the bucket around the room once again and instructed everyone to take someone else's addressed notecard out of the bucket. Each mom then used her own rhema verse to write an encouraging note to the mom whose name and address was on the card that she selected.
I collected the finished cards and promised to mail them out in the spring when everyone would, no doubt, need an encouraging reminder to stay the course.
Food and Fellowship
Since everyone was asked to bring a dessert or appetizer to share, the menu was simple. I provided service ware, drinks, napkins, and my DEFAULT dessert. And we spent about a half hour just telling war...I mean...homeschool stories.
I'm kind of a sucker for mixer questions, 'cuz I love games with words. So, next on my list of shenanigans was a homeschool mom's Q & A dice game. I sent around dice and a basket full of homeschool-themed mixer questions. Everyone took turns rolling the dice. If the dice landed on an even number, the roller had to take a question out of the basket, read it, and answer it out loud to the group. If it landed on an odd number, she passed the dice and basket of questions to the mom next to her.
(Download the pack of homeschool mixer questions here>>)
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Favorite Things Game
Prior to the party, I cut out three different slips of paper from nine different patterns of scrapbook paper. I wrote a different number on each of the paper patterns so that I ended up with 27 slips of paper. (There were nine people attending the party and each guest brought three copies of her chosen indulgence item...thus, three copies of numbers 1 through 9.) I placed all of these into a basket.
When it was time to play the Favorite Things Game, I passed the basket around and instructed each person to take three numbers out of the basket. (The different paper patterns helped with this.) If a mom picked three different paper patterns, she was assured of three DIFFERENT numbers. If she happened to pick out her own number (the number that she was assigned to at the beginning of the party and that was written on her name tag), she had to place that number back into the basket and choose another.
Once everyone had selected three numbers, I asked the guest who had #1 written on her name tag to reveal her indulgence item. She explained what it was and why she liked it so much. Then, the three other guests that had selected #1 slips out of the basket at the start of the game came forward and got to claim her indulgence item. Then I asked guest #2 to reveal her item, and so on.
Every woman came with three favorites and left with three completely different ones. (Because homeschool moms need new "school supplies" to start the year off with too!)
Our indulgence gifts included bottles of sparkly juice, boxes of gourmet chocolate, skeins of yarn, merino wool socks, scalp massagers, homemade dish cloths, bottles of nail polish, and more.
1 Corinthians 13
I ended our evening by pointing our gaze to our sure foundation...by reminding us what homeschooling was all about. I read a homeschool mom's version of 1 Corinthians and invited everyone to blanket the school year with love.
"Though I teach my children how to multiply, divide, and diagram a sentence, but fail to show them love, I have taught them nothing. And though I take them on numerous field trips, to swim practice and flute lessons; and though I involve them in every church activity, but fail to give them love, I profit nothing. And though I scrub my house relentlessly, run countless errands, and serve three nutritious meals every day but fail to be an example of love, I have done nothing.
Love is patient with misspelled words and is kind to young interrupters. Love does not envy high SAT scores of other homeschool families. Love does not claim to have better teaching methods than anyone else, It is not rude to the fourth telephone caller during a science lesson, does not seek perfectly behaved geniuses, does not turn into a drill sergeant, thinks no evil about friends' educational choices.
Love bears all my children's challenges, believes all my children are God's precious gifts, hopes all my children establish permanent relationships with Christ, and endures all things to demonstrate God's love. Love never fails.
Where there are college degrees, they will fail; where there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we teach in part. But when the trials of life come to our children, the history, math, and science will be done away and faith, hope and love will remain; but the greatest of these is love." ~Author Unknown
For one evening, we got to celebrate us...our accomplishments, our hard work, our tiny steps forward. We rallied behind each other embraced our own awesomeness.