If you have chosen to homeschool your child, you have made the decision to be different from the majority. Your lifestyle, goals, and challenges are going to be unique from your public schooling parent friends and neighbours. It’s going to be hard. At some point, you will likely feel judged for your choices, or your perceived success or lack thereof. When homeschooling becomes challenging, one of your greatest assets can be the support of your local homeschool community.
Why get involved in your homeschool community?
1. Support for yourself
A homeschool community can be a tremendous source of support to you as a homeschooling parent. Having other homeschoolers who can share both their struggles and successes, to whom you can go to for advice and information, and who understand the challenges unique to the homeschooling lifestyle can make the difference between continuing homeschooling and throwing in the towel. Being a part of a homeschool community provides opportunities for encouragement and even mentorship. There is much value in cultivating relationships with older, more mature individuals who have been where you currently are — and have come through successfully. Even if you don’t feel you need any help or support right now, chances are you will at some point down the road. Build those relationships now, and they will be there when you need them.
2. Support for your children
Besides your own support as a homeschooling parent, your homeschool community can also provide support for your children. Having friends who are also homeschoolers can help normalize your family’s lifestyle to your children. A good group of multi-aged children can also provide positive role models and even mentorship opportunities for your children as they grow. And while we as homeschoolers all know that one’s peers are not necessary for proper socialization, they do provide an opportunity for socializing, which your children may really appreciate!
3. Group opportunities
Being part of a group also provides the sort of opportunities that are exclusive to groups: participation in group activities. Some events, opportunities, and experienced are only available to groups. Develop some local homeschool contacts, and it opens all kinds of doors to you for field trips, activities and classes.
4. Support for others
Another pretty important reason to get involved in your homeschool community is that they need you! Maybe you have your act together. Maybe your kids are thriving without homeschool friends. You are confident in your choices and your path. Maybe the biggest reason you should connect with local homeschoolers isn’t what they can offer you, but what you have to offer them. Your example, your words of encouragement, could make the world of difference to another homeschool mama!
How you can get involved in your homeschool community:
Not sure how to get involved in your local homeschool group? There are so many different ways, and not all require you to assume a leadership or organizational role. Here are just a few ways to get involved:
1. Attend meetings
Just show up. It really is that easy. I know everyone is busy, and you definitely have a full plate as a homeschooling mom, but by simply showing up to a meeting, the door to all kinds of support and resources for yourself and your family can be opened. And your mere presence at the meeting can be a great encouragement to those who are working hard in your homeschool community.
2. Organize activities/field trips
Is there a group activity that you would like to participate in? You don’t have to wait for the opportunity to present itself, take the initiative and organize the activity! Chances are, others will be so glad you did. While this can be more complicated, involving contacting businesses or venues, making reservations and purchasing tickets, it can also be as simple as saying “Hey, we are going to go to the museum next Tuesday at 10 o’clock, anyone want to join us?”
3. Join or start a co-op
Chances are, your local homeschool community has a co-op you can join. Volunteer to teach a class, track registration, or wrangle toddlers! If your local group does not offer a co-op, you can start one yourself by offering to teach a small class of children in your home. There is a great advantage to this– then the content can suit your own educational goals, style, and curriculum.
Help your homeschool community get the word out to those homeschoolers in your community who aren’t yet connected. Advertise your group at church and online! When a new family moves to your city, will they be able to find your group? Help others connect by listing your group online, and promoting your local events on homeschool Facebook groups.
5. Plan a mom’s activity or book club
Sometimes we spend so much time and energy focusing on our kids we can neglect our own needs. Planning, hosting, or organizing a special activity for moms only can be a great way to get to know other homeschool moms, have fun, and build your community. Meet for coffee, host a desert evening at home, plan for an evening of crafting or start a mom’s book club! Help moms in your community meet their social and/or personal development needs.
6. Start a children’s book club
A book club can be a great way for kids to enjoy books as a group. These can be age specific, or for the whole family. Chose a book, read it with your children and then plan a group event for afterwards. Your get together can be suited to the theme of the book (pirates, pioneers, medieval times…). Older children will enjoy discussing the book and characters, younger children can enjoy dressing in costumes. A more serious book club for teens is also a great idea!
Are you involved with your local homeschool community? Do you have any other suggestions to add?