Monday, September 23, 2019

Cultivating Community as a Homeschool Family: A Fall Love Letter

All of us fall lovers have our reasons for getting so excited about this pumpkin spice and turning leaves time of year.  Cooler temperatures, cozy clothes, and harvest activities are all things anyone in their right mind would look forward to, especially in the midst of a still sticky September.  Still, there is something deeper about fall that can draw the heart in.  It makes tender moments feel closer and harsher times farther away somehow. My favorite thing about fall is also my favorite part of homeschooling - the opportunity to cultivate richer relationships.

When educating my children at home, the majority of our life is done in each other's presence with each other's input and help. Nobody is perfect and we're all growing, but since we are witnesses to the ups and downs, we celebrate and mourn together.  Isn't that what a community is for?  The fall is the a perfect time to see and be seen within our community - something that is sorely needed. I'm sure there is plenty of blame to go around, but our current culture is losing its sense of community and individuals are suffering every day because of it.  Anxiety, depression, and suicide aren't rare anymore.  Feelings of loneliness and insecurity are the rule - no longer exceptions.  With the rise of social media, we all felt like we were adding to our communities, but it is backfiring because we're losing our skills and opportunities to invest in those around us.  A Facebook group of filtered people that only live like I do is much more comfortable than the melting pot of people in my neighborhood or at the local places I visit.

As we enter this yummy season, take some time to think about ways you can cultivate a deeper relationship with your community.  As homeschoolers we are already doing that with our families, but don't miss the chances to spread it around further.  Have you ever thought about the community elements you might be creating by going to the same grocery store every week or taking 5 minutes to chat with someone while you wait rather than dive into your phone?  We're good at hiding on Instagram, but the statistics are screaming that we all just want more connection.  We want to feel a part of each others lives - especially those of us that are buried in nothing but disconnection.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Offer a hand.  Fall brings leaves to be raked, pruning to be done, and plenty of chores.

Make a seasonal treat.  Pumpkins and apples are everywhere, especially flavoring our favorite treat!  Make some apple butter or a few extra loaves of pumpkin bread to share with your neighbor.
 Having extra is a great excuse to connect!

Ask for help.  Whether it's a school activity or around the house project, asking for help is an easy way to include someone else in your miniature community.

Send Letters.  Your children have many people of service that impact their life every day, even without them realizing it.  Taking time to send them a letter from your kids thanking them and even asking questions about their job can be an important way to reconnect with those close yet so far away.

Look around.  From pumpkin patches to parties, you are likely to be bustling around your local community this fall.  Take some time to look up and really see the people around you.  Do they need help?  Could they use a smile and some encouragement?  The rich relationships you are building with your family are something everyone around us are craving for, even when they don't realize it.  So, let's be mindful of the blessing we can be just by living in a community.

This content was originally posted as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew.

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