How to Be a Homeschool Mentor

by Jimmie

What is the best way to mentor another homeschooling mom? Here are tips to maximize the experience for both of you.

You don't have to be the "perfect" homeschooling mom to be an effective homeschool mentor to another mom. You simply have to have a few years' experience and a willing heart.
Don't think that the mentor role is one of expert. Instead, think of it in terms of a coach or a guide. You have to know just a little bit more than your mentee, and you express that with positive nudging and cheerleading.

Mentoring Tips

Basic Rules for Mentoring

Set a time frame for the mentoring relationship.

A year is probably the minimum committment considering we think of school in terms of a year's time. It does take some time to establish rapport and a mentoring routine. So do give the relationship several months before deciding to call it quits.

At the end of the first year evaluate to determine if the mentoring relationship needs to continue.

Listen! Listen! Listen!

"Your capacity to love is your capacity to experience the I of another." 
Walter Starcke 

Just because you are the mentor doesn't mean you have to talk constantly. In fact, an excellent mentor draws out the mentee's thoughts by listening and asking probing questions. Sometimes solutions are found in the course of dialogue. Some people process things by talking out loud. So allow your mentee to use you as a sounding board. 

Recap what she says every now and then to make sure you understand. Then ask her what she thinks she needs to do about the situation. Instead of offering advice, wait for the mentee to seek it. She actually may want a listening ear and encouragement rather than advice. If you listen, you will know what is appropriate. (If you are not sure, just ask!)

There is a bad habit many people have in conversations. When they hear another person share an experience, they immediately share their own similar experience without reacting to, enjoying, or even listening to the other person's story. This is selfish communication. Be a good listener. Share when you are invited to share. 

Set goals for accountability.

"Oil and perfume make the heart glad,   and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:9

Based on the mentee's needs which you discovered while listening, work together with the mentee to set some goals or checkpoints. Each time you meet, follow up on those areas so that there is a sense of accountability

You may want to give your mentee homework of sorts: suggest great books, point out wonderful blogs, or share inspiring articles. Then when you meet, you can discuss what she read. Make sure what you are sharing addresses a need or question the mentee has expressed. Don't take it upon yourself to find her flaws and confront her with them. Instead, let the mentee's desires mold how you mentor her.

Respect your mentee's personal preferences.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own."
 - Benjamin Disraeli

You are there to support the homeschooling mentee, not to push your own agenda. So if you are passionate about the Classical style of education but your mentee is not, then work to make her successful in the educational philosophy that she has selected. If she asks about your own personal philosophy, feel free to share. But never try to "brainwash" your mentee into your own style of homeschooling.

A good mentor is humble enough to know that her way is not the best for everyone else.

Establish regular meeting times.

At a minimum, you need to meet monthly with your homeschool mentee. Some mentees may desire more frequent meetings, especially if things are going badly.

Be there for your mentee, but be flexible. You know full well how children get sick, husbands have to work overtime, and the dishwasher breaks. Be willing to meet at her home if necessary. Or open your home if she needs a break away from her brood.

Be positive.

"Every student deserves to be treated as a potential genius." 
Anton Ehrenzweig 

Be positive in your own attitude. Don't go to a mentoring session with a huge burden on your shoulders. Get that resolved before trying to support your mentee. 

Be positive about your mentee's abilities. Don't downgrade her experience or educational level. Don't call her a "newbie." Instead, look at her giftings, her progress, and her successes.

Success breeds success. Help her see her successes when they may be hidden under piles of laundry and tear-filled math lessons.

Be honest and humble.

  • If you don't know, admit it. But do your best to find an answer.
  • If you are weak in an area, don't try to hide it. Work to overcome it.

Your mentee is not expecting you to have all the answers. Although she wants practical help, she also wants an understanding ear from someone who has faced the same challenges. Be real.

Keep it confidential.

Your mentee may share personal matters about her husband and children with you. Hold those confessions in strict confidence. If you violate your mentee's trust, the relationship will be destroyed. 

You may think nothing of sharing that your mentee's child has a learning disability or that her husband is looking for a new job. But your mentee may be devastated at what she considers a breach of confidence. If you are not sure if something is common knowledge or not, be sure to ask.

"Mentoring is a brain to pick,

an ear to listen,

and a push

in the right direction."


John Crosby

Encouraging a Fellow Homeschool Mom


General Homeschooling Reference Books

The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook

If you are thinking about homeschooling, or are struggling with a educational homeschooling curriculum that is difficult to use, let Dr. Ray and Dorothy Moore show you how to ...

$11.29  $24.99
The Homeschooling Handbook, 2nd Edition

Don't Even Think About Teaching Your Child at Home—Until You Read This BookDiscover why millions of parents are homeschooling their children. In this revised edition of her ...

$16.95  $16.98
Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High ...

Finally, homeschoolers have a comprehensive guide to designing a homeschool curriculum, from one of the country's foremost homeschooling experts. , Rebecca Rupp presents a ...

$19.96  $14.99
Homeschooling for Success: How Parents Can Create a Superior Education for Their Child

This practical, hands-on guide from the No. 1 homeschooling Web site gives readers everything they need to create a customized education plan that works with children's unique ...

$18.99  $10.45
Homeschool Your Child for Free: More Than 1,400 Smart, Effective, and Practical Resources for ...

Provide a solid education at home without breaking the bank.Introduced in 2000, Homeschool Your Child for Free gave countless parents the plan and peace of mind to get their ...

$19.4  $1.38
Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles

For new and veteran homeschool families alike, this extensive new release from the editors of The Old Schoolhouse TM Magazine serves as “a homeschool convention in a book.” It ...

$6.65  $26.89

Have You Ever Had a Homeschooling Mentor?

Read More About Homeschool Mentors

How to Find a Homeschool Mentor
Where to look for a mentor and how to broach the topic of mentoring.

Mentoring Checklist
Not written from a homeschool perspective, but still good things to consider before taking on the role of mentor or mentee.

Characteristics of the Most Effective Mentors
Survey results that asked mentees what made their best mentoring experience so good.

"We make a living

by what we get;

we make a life

by what we give."


Winston Churchill

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Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
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traveller27 on 08/30/2011

Very good advice for potential mentors. Thanks for sharing.

tandemonimom on 08/18/2011

GREAT advice to potential homeschool mentors! I had never thought of doing a formal mentor-mentee relationship but I have informally mentored several people.

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