Support — it is the one thing that every homeschool family longs for, especially new homeschool families. There are many advantages to joining a homeschool support group.
Social skills and friendships
Homeschooling can be somewhat isolating for both parent and child, therefore, the most obvious benefit to joining a group would be the opportunities for interaction with fellow homeschool parents and children… the S word, “socialization.” It is important that we foster friendships and spend time with moms that understand us, can laugh with us on the good days and empathize on the hard days. Our children also need to put to use the social skills they have been taught in the home. I want to be certain that my sons know how to interact with other children; that they are not overly shy, that they speak with confidence, that they are outgoing and friendly.
The opportunity to glean knowledge from homeschool families that have been in the trenches longer than us is priceless. In the same way, we should offer guidance and support to families just starting out. Sharing experiences, celebrating successes, encouraging each other regularly and learning from each other’s failures are all reasons to be a part of a homeschool group.
Belonging to a homeschool group offers opportunities for discounted organized field trips and events. Homeschool groups often fall under the same guidelines as schools and receive the same perks and discounts. Usually, local museums and popular field trip spots will offer an annual homeschool day. Many support groups also have play dates, organized sports, music lessons, co-op; they will host holiday parties, craft days, mom’s night out gatherings and book fairs.
Finding a support group
Where to look:
Search the internet for homeschool groups in your city or area. Online homeschool communities like The Homeschool Lounge, Homeschool.com or About.com Homeschool can help you get started. Also check out Yahoo Groups, Meetup.com and other websites to introduce yourself to a group before meeting in person.
There are homeschool groups in every state and in most cities as homeschooling continues to grow in leaps and bounds. There are large groups and small intimate groups. Some groups are more specific and created by curriculum, grade level, religion and/or homeschool philosophy. Find the group that fits your family’s needs and enjoy the fellowship! If you don’t have a support group, you might want to connect with a few families and consider starting your own. Building a solid support group, whether online or within your local community can be daunting, but it is certainly worth it! Once you find a good fit you will want to pace yourself.
Our homeschool group meets once or twice a month for organized field trips. Some members belong to more than one group and enjoy weekly field trips or play dates. Pace yourself to avoid burnout — just because you belong to a group does not mean you will have to make every single outing. Your homeschool group should supplement your homeschool journey and not turn into an added stress.