Who should use a homeschool consultancy service

Who should use a homeschool consultancy service

by Umm Maryam Meher

I held the phone tentatively as I deliberated the situation. My friend’s soft voice gently advised me. “Come over sis, you may not get this chance again. She usually does not do home visits and the fact that she agreed to drive all this way means we are really lucky. Don’t miss this opportunity.”

“Ok I’ll be there in sha Allah. I’ll confirm right now.” With just a message I made the confirmation and it was one of the best decisions I had made for my home education journey.

The next day, I arrived at my friend’s home and around her dining table, over lunch, laments and laughter, we met with our lovely homeschool consultant. The event was thoroughly beneficial. We lamented because we’d wished we met her sooner and laughed more out of utter relief than any thing else. We were so happy to have found help.

So who should use a homeschool consultant?

In short; anyone who is homeschooling.

My friend was completely new to homeschooling. She knew nothing, not even the basics. Though I had wanted to help her, I had my own exams the week she scheduled a meeting for me guide through homeschool registration. I had to decline. Sudden illness and hospital visits came up the week I rescheduled the meeting and tried to help a second time. The final attempt I made to meet her as well as her friend, I remembered a homeschool class I had to take my children a 40-minute drive away from my suburb. A 40-minute drive home after drop off and then 40 minutes back for pickup and 40 minutes back home again. I teach maths every day, I’m not calculating that but between getting older ones prepped for class and little ones ready for the long drive meant that that day and this third meeting was also over.

This was not a new situation. This happened all the time. There are so many sisters I will promise to help, only that either my own homeschooling, my own studies or personal commitments will arise and I can not help.

So often new to homeschooling sisters find out about homeschool consultancy, get extremely excited and then receive the flyer for payment and became equally deflated.

I thought I would finally find professional help, but this is just so expensive they sigh. I thought I would have my questions answered, my doubts cleared and that someone would help me through the legal explanations and the official paperwork. I need a homeschool consultant to put together my educational program and show me how to document recording and progress but I simply can’t afford this fee. Why do they charge so much? Why do they charge at all?

I have heard this same statement hundreds of times. Mostly whispered but occasionally loudly, in upset tones.

I hope I can explain my own journey of trying to help sisters for free to explain why homeschool consultants do this for a price.

I’ve already illustrated above in my meeting scheduling story that as homeschooling mothers we are completely booked out for time. Charging ensures a commitment to the help seeker. Some sisters have waited for my help for up to four months as I couldn’t get to meet them due to pregnancy and health related issues. And they were too shy to keep asking me, eventually giving up and asking another sister to help out.

Since then I stored all my notes on a private blog and started building an information booklet I could direct sisters to I would not have to spend two or three hours with each individual sister: at a time.

Yes subhanallah! in helping sisters I found that each sitting would end up taking at least 2-3 hours plus phone calls back and forth to answer questions as they popped up.

The booklet itself took me weeks to edit and months to get the information right – and I wasn’t even sure I had it right yet. I kept notes building as I answered sister’s worries and queries. So often I didn’t know the answer so I would have to call NESA and put together research until I found the right answer. Trying to find answers on homeschooling groups meant that ten different sisters would give ten different answers from about ten different experiences with approved persons.

Legal and educational questions are not the only thing. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and requires an entire life shift. To guide a new sister through homeschooling is to be their life coach, their counselor and sometimes, an emotional punching bag.

It is not an easy journey. There are fears. There is so much anxiety to guide sisters out of.

Surely there was someone out there to help? More importantly surely there was someone who was already an expert, not a newbie like me?

I still had so much to learn, so much to know. When I saw ad at the end of this year for a homeschool consultancies I was shocked. What in the world was that!? And why haven’t I heard of it for all these years into my homeschooling journey? It sounded like a life saving service. Not just for sisters who were new but also for those struggling to help others.

I directed my friends to this immediately. Then one of my friends took up the offer and invited me to the homeschool consultancy session at her house. We double booked the meeting, each paying for our own service back to back.

The day I had to meet her I had a million questions, fears and worries of my own. I needed someone confident. Someone who actually knew. Someone who I knew would be there for me when no one else knew the answers. I needed someone to talk to and not feel guilty for taking their time: because we had mutually agreed to make the time.

While the wonderful people at NESA were incredibly useful, I didn’t want to speak to someone in an office locked up with books that simply wrote about homeschooling. I needed someone more than an official looking approved person, many of whom are deputy principals and experiences teachers.

I needed a real mum. A real homeschooling mum to turn to. More than anything, I needed reassurance. That someone has already tread this path and they are okay. And they can tell me that I will also be okay.

My needs could only be satisfied by a real expert. Someone who is authorised, specialised and most importantly confident in their homeschooling.

Someone who is so confident in knowing what they are doing, so much so that they can charge for it: is a priceless thing.

When this sister spoke, I knew she knew what she was talking about. This sister had heart, spirit as well as the power to say: yes this is right- do this or no that approach is completely wrong – don’t do it. But at the same time giving me the option to share my opinions and the encouragement to make my own decisions .

Often in homeschooling, knowing what NOT to do is more important that being bombarded with advice, suggestions, tips, tricks and resources. A homeschooling consultant can clearly tell you, don’t use this book and don’t overload yourself doing that. Getting rid of all the extra information was beyond valuable for me.

More than anything. I found relief. I had found the person who could swim in the ocean not just dab their toes at the edges of the water. Not only can professionals swim but they can be that life guard to rescue those who homeschooling may be drowning.

When someone takes on a career, they are stationed there. When they could have taken any path to their life but rather they chose to give their entire time and life mission to help people, that’s when they open a consultancy. They don’t let other life goals and priorities come in the way and we need people like this set in their positions when we may be drowning.

Ever since I have experienced professional consultancy I have stopped trying to take help into my own hands. I have made little cards and graphic designs to share the numbers of the sisters in the community who are professional consultants. It has been a beautiful feeling to know that by this, I am still helping. And by referring sisters to experts: I am helping in a better way than before.

So no matter where a sister is in her journey, whether brand new and just starting out or well seasoned, we all need consultants. There are just some things only a professional can do and it is well worth the investment.