6 Ways to Find Homeschooling Support
One of the most common misconceptions about homeschooling is that it takes place in a vacuum. In reality, homeschoolers spend much of their time interacting with their neighbors — joining in fun and recreational activities, taking classes, working, and donating their time and energy to projects that benefit their entire community.
At the same time, most homeschooling families also try to stay in touch with other homeschoolers, online and in real life.
Finding support can be crucial when you’re just starting out, or when things hit a snag.
Experienced homeschoolers can suggest books and articles to read,methods to try, and classes your kids will love. They understand what it’s like to be a little bit different from the rest of your family or people on your block, and can suggest ways to handle the challenges of being home all day with your kids long past the preschool years.
Here are some strategies for finding support structure to help you meet the challenges and share the joys of homeschooling. Don’t worry if some of these suggestions don’t work for you.
There are many ways to get the support you need, so if you one doesn’t suit you, try some of the others.
1. Look for Homeschool Groups in Your Area
Homeschooling is widespread enough to cover most parts of the U.S., Canada, and many other parts of the world too. There may be well-established homeschooling support groups right in your town.
To find them, check bulletin boards at places where parent groups meet, like the library, church, or YMCA.
Also scan the listings of your local newspaper or parenting magazine or website.
Homeschool support groups differ, but many offer parent meetings, group classes and activities for kids, and park days and field trips for the entire family. However, some — not all — groups are limited to families who share a particular religion or philosophy, so you’ll want to make sure the group you choose is a good fit for your family.
2. Explore Homeschool Programs in Your Community
Organizations like museums, the Y, sports facilities, art studios, and enrichment centers often have programs during regular school hours specifically designed for homeschoolers.
There may also be homeschool 4-H clubs and Boy and Girl Scouts troops that are looking for members.
Taking part in a homeschool class or program is one way to meet other homeschoolers without committing to a particular group or philosophy. For families with busy schedules, a once-a-week class or six-week-long workshop can be a good way to add socialization and support to your regular routine.
3. Find Homeschooling Families Near You
Group activities are great, but sometimes all you need is a good friend or two. Chances are there are other homeschooling families near you, but how can you find them? One tried-and-true method is to ask at your public library. Homeschoolers love the library, and the staff there can probably help you make contact with families nearby.
And ask around — you probably know someone who knows someone who homeschools. One source that usually doesn’t work: the school district. In many places, schools pay no attention to homeschoolers, or may not be allowed to share information because of confidentiality.
4. Join a Homeschooling Email List
Back in the old days, homeschooling email lists were a life saver. They made it possible for homeschool groups to stay in touch without having to print up and mail newsletters.
But homeschooling email lists are still popular today, especially for parents with special interests. Want to learn how to prepare your child for college? There are email lists devoted to the topic.
Whether you’re a single parent, your child has special needs, or you want to learn more about unschooling, there’s an email list support group for you. Search for them on YahooGroups and GoogleGroups.
5. Connect With Homeschoolers via Social Media
Don’t have time to read through dozens of email messages every day? Then joining a homeschooling Facebook group might be a good solution for you.
Some local homeschool support groups have made the switch, allowing busy parents to stop by and hang out when they have time, without needing to follow an email list.
Many popular homeschool websites also have Facebook pages where readers can comment and discuss interesting articles and topics. Twitter is another place to go to interact with homeschooling parents and see articles curated by your favorite homeschooling writers.
6. Start Your Own Homeschool Network
The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to your needs. So if you’re having trouble finding like-minded families or activities that match your interests, take charge and create your own!
Starting your own support group (or small play-and-learning group) can be as simple as letting folks know you’ll be at the local playground on Tuesday afternoon or starting a regular Outdoor Games Day. Pick the time, location, and activity to suit your preferences, and you’ll be more likely to find people who will mesh with your personality and parameters.
Or if you’d like to help organize homeschoolers on a bigger scale, use social media to create your own Facebook page, MeetUp, or other type of online/real life gathering. In my area, a Facebook group started by a new homeschooling mom grew within a couple of years to over 400 members.
Bottom line, with a little perseverance you can find other homeschoolers to give advice, help, and an ego boost when you need it most. Homeschooling is done by individual families, but its beauty is the community of support it creates.