How to Homeschool: Get Plugged into a Homeschool Group


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Welcome back to 10 Days of Homeschooling 101. Yesterday, we talked about the most important first step: learning the homeschooling laws for your state.

Once you’ve become familiar with your state’s laws, the second big step to a successful homeschooling start is getting plugged into a homeschooling group.

Really? That’s the second thing? What about buying curriculum? What about learning your child’s learning style?

Yes, those things are important, but those things are also much more easily explored with the input of an experienced and diverse group of homeschooling moms (and dads).

10-days-april-kris

I met the ladies who would come to make up my homeschool support group within the first six months of beginning to homeschool and I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through those first few years without them. They provided friendship (and, through their children, friendships for my kids), support, encouragement, wisdom, and knowledge that proved invaluable to me.

Types of Support Groups

It helps to know what you’re looking for in a homeschool support group. Some types of homeschooling groups include:

Faith-based. Faith-based support groups may be specific to a certain faith, such as a Catholic group, an Adventist group, or a Baptist group. Some faith-based support groups may even require that members sign a statement of faith. 

Other groups, like the one I’m a part of, may be Christian, but multi-denominational. These groups probably won’t require a statement of faith, but will expect that their members are of a Christian belief system.

Secular. These days, there are probably just as many non-Christian homeschoolers as there are Christian, so secular homeschool groups are usually readily available to those who would prefer a non-faith-based group.

Informal. An informal homeschool group may offer opportunities for outings such as field trips and play dates, without some of the extras that many people may think of when they envision a homeschool support group, such a monthly meeting, a newsletter, or coordinators for different functions of the group (i.e. a field trip coordinator).

Formal. A more formal homeschool support group will probably collect yearly or monthly dues, offer a newsletter, have officers, and include regularly scheduled events. A formal support group may offer group classes or a co-op and will probably have regular meetings which may include speakers on topics of interest to homeschooling families.

Online support groups. Online support groups may take the form of a forum or an email group. They may be based on geographic location, homeschooling style, curriculum choice. While I think it is important to have personal, real-life connections, the support and encouragement offered through online support groups should not be overlooked.

State or local groups. Most states have a statewide support group that is something of clearing house of information. These are the groups that you join to stay abreast of and offer financial support for local legislation, rather than for meeting and getting together with local families.

These groups often support events such as curriculum fairs and local, organized sports. Their webpages and/or newsletters typically offer listings for smaller support groups who offer meetings and activities.

Additionally, many areas have this type of clearing house group at a local (city or county) level. These umbrella groups may offer support (i.e. legal or financial) for the traditional area support group.

HS Support Group

Support Group Offerings

Another thing to consider is, what are you looking for in a support group? Support groups may offer:

  • Play dates
  • Formal Classes/co-ops
  • Specialized lessons, such as art, music, or foreign language
  • Field trips
  • Physical education classes (i.e. gymnastics, flag football)
  • Organized sports
  • Park days
  • Drama classes/productions
  • Clubs, such as chess, book, or Legos
  • Fairs (See “Ten Great Events to Plan for Your Homeschool Group” for ideas)
  • Parties (End-of-the-Year, Back-to-School, and holiday parties)
  • Newsletters
  • Meetings
  • Testing
  • Graduation ceremony
  • Yearbook
  • Directory of member families
  • Membership cards
  • Educator discounts at local businesses
  • Used book sales

Where to Find Support Groups

Search Yahoo groups. The ladies who formed my homeschool support group met on another email list through Yahoo groups. Eventually, five of us began our own group which has grown to include well over 100 families. Because of our success, I always encourage new homeschool moms to search Yahoo groups for a support group in their city.

Although email groups seem to be fading in popularity, they are still a great place to begin your search for a homeschool group. We’ve found that a great many of our members have discovered us as they prepared to move to our city from other parts of the country. It’s been a blessing to them to be able to “meet” moms in the area through the email group first, providing a small base of friendly faces, figuratively speaking, to welcome them and their family to their new city.

Search online. As with the legal guidelines, the Homeschool Legal Defense website can be a great place to start looking for a local homeschool support group.

Another good way to locate your local support groups is to Google “{your state/county/city name} + {homeschool support group/home educators association}.”

Check locally. If you can find your local clearinghouse group’s information – either online or by asking the homeschooling families you may know, their newsletter or website will often list all the local homeschool groups. You may also check your library’s bulletin board.

With the encouragement, friendship (for parents and kids), and wealth of information they can provide, getting plugged into a homeschool support group is a smart second step toward a successful beginning to your family’s homeschool experience.

Come back tomorrow when we’ll look at another key factor to successful homeschooling: discovering your homeschooling style.

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9 Comments

  1. Great post, Kris, and very informative. When I first began homeschooling, I was part of a support group that met monthly. Now I'm only part of several online support groups: some are geographical (homeschool happenings in my area) and the others are for the curricula we use.

  2. 1) As always, you are an awesome source of info. New and prospective homeschoolers: Listen to Kris' 10 Steps. She's right on!

    2) If you have a hard time finding a compatible homeschool group in your area, try starting one. Start by putting up flyers at your local library; homeschoolers always go there. We started an informal group a few years ago in exactly that way, and my kids and I really enjoyed getting to know homeschoolers who live in our home community.

  3. LOVE your banner and I have to say…I love small groups best.  I enjoy being part of a larger group, but smaller, more intimate ones…fit our family best….I think it's great how we can all be so different…but the same.

  4. I would love to be part of a local support group here in my town. I belong to a countywide one, but we meet maybe twice a year? So it's kind of a bummer…now that our new library is built, I'm going to see about posting a flyer to attract the attention of other homeschooling families in the area. I've heard that there are QUITE a few–just haven't met them yet.

  5. Hi Kris!  I think we live in the same area of Georgia.  Do you have info on the group you are in?  We go to a co-op once a week but they don't offer trips or play dates.  I have a kindergartener and although we've been schooling for a couple years, this year is the first year that all her little friends will be spending most days at school.  I'd like to get her plugged in somewhere.

  6. Hi, Nicole. If you'll email me privately and let me know what part of the state you're in, I'll be glad to send you info about our group if we're close to you.

  7. I'll definitely share this article,  joining a support group can really help you with your problems.

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