By Beth Bartow

For the past five years, my husband and I have been blessed with the opportunity to homeschool our three boys. While homeschooling can have its challenges some days, it has been one of the best decisions our family has made. As I reflect back to when we were debating on whether homeschooling was the right choice for our family, I remember that one of our biggest concerns was losing our community; “our people”. Since we do not have family living close by, our school community at the time was crucial to us. We were worried that by leaving the school that 2 of our 3 boys were in at the time (our youngest was still a baby and not yet in school) we wouldn’t have the support we had come to count on, and definitely needed. We were so concerned about losing our support system that we were strongly considering moving to Columbus where Steve’s family lives. We knew how much community mattered, especially when it came to the importance of your children. We were afraid to walk the journey of homeschooling alone, but, ultimately we trusted what God was calling us to do. We decided to stay in Cincinnati, and we made the homeschooling leap! I am grateful every day that we did! It has blessed our lives in ways we never would have imagined. The amazing support system we were hoping to find and worried about so much was already in the works, and we didn’t even realize it. God was working behind the scenes, as He does so well.

Fast forward a bit, and we found ourselves immersed in the wonderful church family of Mount Carmel! We dove headfirst into volunteering in various areas, and quickly started connecting with other families that opened their hearts and homes to us. We were so grateful that God had answered our prayers in finding “our people”! As I was volunteering in MC Kids one day, I talked with one of the children and they mentioned that they were homeschooled. I thought to myself Awesome! Another homeschooling family that is part of the church!  Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to her mom during pick up, so I was left wondering if I’d see the family again, and if there were other homeschoolers within Mount Carmel. It clicked that there could be an entire homeschooling community within our church that wasn’t connected with one another yet, as it can be hard to pinpoint other homeschooling families in a church our size. I started to consider the idea that a homeschool network within our church could be a wonderful resource for Mount Carmel families. Different than a traditional co-op offering supplemental educational classes, there was an opportunity for a social group, focused on encouraging the homeschooling families and fostering fellowship and friendships. The concept of this group was on my heart often. After months of debate and strong pushback on God’s nudge for me to do this (I was way “too busy” I thought, along with a multitude of other justifications on why I shouldn’t pursue this), I decided it was worth at least approaching the church to see if it was even feasible. Not only did church leadership think it was feasible, they also supported and highly encouraged the idea! They were happy to help facilitate this focused network within our church. So, Mount Carmel Homeschool Community was formed and officially launched in spring of 2022!

Since its formation, MCHC (Mount Carmel Homeschool Community), has been able to connect homeschooling families within our church that may not have known each other otherwise. That is a wonderful thing; especially when homeschooling can feel a bit isolating at times. Strong friendships have been formed between the children as well as the caregivers. As a group we have gone on some great field trips, crafted many creative things, and played some wicked chess games! Love and encouragement are given frequently and without hesitation in our group. We have prayed over each other, cried with each other, and celebrated big and small wins with one another. We have become more than a community – we are a family. I am so grateful that God has brought us together and continues to lead us on this journey. It is an honor and blessing to be a part of this group   . “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

If you are a homeschooling family that attends Mount Carmel and are interested in the group, you are most welcome to reach out, or attend one of our upcoming meetings! They are held every other Wednesday at 1:30 pm. We alternate between fun field trips and outings, and meetings at the church for structured crafts and games. If you are considering homeschooling and would like some guidance and support, please reach out to the church office for our contact information! We are happy to help any way we can.