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.
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.