Ramadan Day 5: Gratitude for Bismillah Cooperative

Wednesdays are co-op days at my friend’s house. A cooperative of 10 families come together each week to teach and play with the kids.

I discovered this group during a global pandemic when most people retreated into their own inner circles. My circle expanded, somehow. I’m grateful for finding a tribe of moms who “get it”, share my values, and are aligned on goals. I have distinct groups of friends with little cross-pollination. College friends, husband’s college friends, neighbor friends, and then childhood friends. Homeschooling mom-friends is a distinct category of people and there is no crossover whatsoever.

Over the past year, I’ve met a number of neighbors who have become friends who in turn have shaped who I am becoming.

This sisterhood has been a source of refuge during the week. I am truly inspired by these women. Each mom is a gifted teacher. I always walk away having learned something new.

I am not sure what I’m doing most days as a homeschooling parent, but I do notice the difference of shaping my children’s education and getting to influence other children— versus what I did as an active parent fundraising for a private school. As for public school, I feel that influence is even more removed by layers of bureaucracy. It feels like such a tremendous gift and privilege to have this kind of power to shape little hearts as a homeschooler.

Many days it is hard to see the outcome of homeschooling on our kids. If we moms are the outcome, then I suppose there is a lot of evidence of progress. For example, homeschooling moms seem happy, fulfilled in what they are investing of themselves. There is a lot of positivity, and a peacefulness. From what I have learned, expectations are very different for homeschooling moms. You cannot have a picture-perfect house if 20 kids are coming in every week, but you make it peaceful, clean, and inviting.

Even with all my doubts about homeschooling as the right answer for our family, I admire and respect the women who happily open their homes to 20 kids and parents each week.

A toy display showing pairs.

A homeschooling network is vital for the success of our kids but I feel the community of practice is not sufficient— like there’s so much more a child needs to succeed. No one says you should homeschool alone but most days, that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s you and your children, a 1:1 ratio that feels overwhelming. Some days it feels like everyone else gets a whole team of teachers and institutional supports but homeschoolers just have their friends and their own resources. This feels unbalanced. I feel like we are missing out so much of the culture and fun. Yes we get to spend a month in Florida or a month overseas but still, I believe kids in school have more consistent fun with birthdays, celebrations, etc.

The jury is still out for us. But without this group I definitely would have stopped homeschooling long ago. Maybe I have the stamina to keep going? Maybe I don’t. I say bismillah and let God take care of the rest.

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