We all need to find our tribe. A tribe is a group of people with similar beliefs, customs, and ideas – people whose way of life is very similar to one another. For many homeschooling families, our tribe is our homeschool support group. That support group may be the formal variety, with meetings and dues, or it may be a few families who get together for play dates and group outings.
It can often take a while to find just the right support group – and sometimes, you may even need to start your own. Are you scratching your head wondering how to start a homeschool support group? I’ve got tips!
Decide what type of support group you’d like to offer.
There are support groups that have regular monthly meetings, complete with speakers. There are those that offer co-ops, field trips, play dates, and classes. There are religious, secular, formal, and informal. The first step to successfully launching your own support group is to decide what your goals are.
The homeschool group that some friends and I started years ago was the perfect match for our personalities – very informal. We knew that we wanted a group for communicating mostly via email and offering our kids a chance to get together and play since our children were all under 10 at the time.
We started by setting up a Yahoo group and inviting a few moms that each of us knew.
If you wish to start a more formal group, you may want to consider things like:
- Will you be offering a faith-based or secular group?
- If you’ll be offering a faith-based group, will you want to establish a statement of faith?
- Will there be dues? If so, you’ll need a treasurer and a bank account.
- Will there be officers? If so, how will they be selected and how long will they serve?
- How often will you meet and where?
Find a place to meet.
One of the biggest challenges for most fledgling homeschool groups is finding a place to meet. For the purposes of our informal group, our initial meeting place was typically a local playground – indoor or outdoor, depending on the weather. Other options may include:
- Community event rooms, such as a rec center, gymnasium, or voting precinct
- Homes of members
- Restaurant or hotel meeting rooms
- Coffee houses
Get the word out.
If you’re going to start a homeschool support group, you’re going to want to let people know. So, how do you go about getting the word out? As I mentioned, with our group, we initially started out by just inviting moms that each of us knew. Word-of-mouth among homeschoolers is second to none.
Soon, we realized that there was a great need for a group such as ours (email-based, allowing moms to find encouragement and support nearly any time of the day or night) in our area. So, we added our listing to the local homeschool support group newsletter, published by the local branch of our state-wide support group.
Other places to advertise your local group include:
- Community bulletin boards at churches, libraries, or bookstores
- Your state support group’s newsletter or website
- Local moms groups, such as MOPS or La Leche League
- Facebook – Start a Facebook page or group and ask your friends to share on their pages
Because we were an email-based Yahoo group, we also had many people find us by searching for support groups by city or state. This was especially helpful for homeschool families moving to our area from out-of-state. We had many families who connected with us via email prior to their move. By the time they were settled in their new home, they already had connections and were ready to start meeting up and making in-person friendships.
Our first off-line events were play dates for our kids. Soon we were enjoying mom’s nights out at local restaurants and, before long, planning bigger, more organized outings for our kids. Events can include:
- Field trips
- Parties – for holidays throughout the year or end-of-the-year and back-to-school parties
- Family events
- Science and social studies fairs
- Community service projects
Over that last decade or so, I’ve planned dozens of events for our local homeschool group and I am happy to share those ideas with you! I have put together a 22-page guide to planning activities for your homeschool group – whether it be a formal group of a few hundred or an informal group of a few families.
52 Weeks of Homeschool Group Activities offers an idea for each week of the year, loosely organized by season, along with planning tips for events and field trips. I’m offering this resource as a free download to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers subscribers.
To get your copy of 52 Weeks of Homeschool Group Activities for free, just enter your email address below to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with download instructions. If you’re already a subscriber, be watching your email for an opportunity to download your free copy.
If you’ve ever helped start a homeschool support group, what suggestions would you add to this list?
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.