Collaboration is a very big word in education these days.  Collaboration is working with others on a joint project.  Now, when you look at the family, this isn’t a particularly new concept:  we work together on many things, homeschooling or not.  But at some stage we need to teach our kids to work together with other people – people who may not think like they think, people who may not understand them so well.

In our homeschooling lifestyle there are many different ways we can work collaboratively:

  • Siblings – this is a first step.  Working with siblings gives our children the opportunities to define a project, communicate ideas, be flexible, work to a deadline, recognise skills in other people etc.
  • Extended family – The old tradition of cousins putting on a play at Christmas time, or cleaning up Grandma’s yard are opportunities for family to work together.
  • Another homeschool family –Recently we worked on a multi-media project  and built a fish-ladder model with other homeschool families – both projects gave the kids opportunities to share their own abilities but also learn from people with different skill sets and passions.
  • A homeschool co-op – A homeschool co-op can have many functions and structures but it is a great opportunity to learn to work together with other people towards the same end.
  • Sports teams – being a team is collaborative – when playing sport your end goal is to win the game.  Sport often brings the extra challenge of intense emotions!
  • Volunteering groups – Jessica has been involved in the Mainly Music committee since she was 13years old;  kids can get involved in Church committees like the music team or missions group, volunteer projects, sporting teams or community events.
collaborative puzzle image

photo credit:

Many of these opportunities are more than likely already happening in your homeschool life – but the question is – are we using those opportunities to teach our kids to work collaboratively?

To work collaboratively you need to:

  • Know the objective – what is the end project you are working towards
  • What time do you have available and what due date are you working towards, how often will you meet together
  • Be able to brainstorm, listening to other people’s ideas – (Bono’s 6 Hats is a good tool to help our kids look at things from a different perspective)
  • Recognise the strengths (and weaknesses) in the team – work with and be gracious towards people
  • Break down tasks, delegate someone to be responsible for each task, set completion dates for set tasks
  • Communication – to be able to communicate ideas, as well as communicate struggles or personal conflicts
  • Ability to resolve conflicts and move on
  • Understanding the chain of command – someone has to take ultimate responsibility (in a work situation this would be the employer, the supervisor, or the client)  Often a ‘chair’ may be necessary as well.

In “Do Hard Things”, the authors Brett and Alex Harris encouraged teens in three areas:  character, competency and collaboration.  We need to be intentional in teaching our kids these skills, and home life, homeschool life, gives us plenty of opportunity.