Sometimes, I’m too stubborn for my own good. Case in point: When I first started homeschooling I figured that I didn’t need any help. I read multiple books and blogs, contacted one other homeschooler I knew in the neighborhood, and basically prepared everything myself.
This post was sponsored by Time 4 Learning. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
But as the first few months passed, oh boy was I lost! I visited that same neighbor and she laughed as I told her my story.
She said that many parents make this same mistake: they act like their superheroes when in reality, they’re just regular parents who want a better education for their kids.
We chatted about peer support and how important it is for almost every parent. For example, there are homeschool groups and networks, co-ops, and online parent forums that are easily accessible.
When I started investigating them, I discovered a whole homeschooling community thriving in my local area. You may find the same thing. So, before you start homeschooling this year, think about how you and your kids could benefit from peer support.
Why You Should Embrace Homeschool Support Groups
Parents join groups for many different reasons, but the bottom line for me at least was that I could find support and answers to questions I struggled with as a new homeschooler.
I still struggle at times, but when I bounce ideas off other homeschoolers, we can usually solve the problem together. My kids also love being a part of these groups; they’ve met other homeschooled kids and have made great friends. Here are some additional benefits.
- You’ll receive guidance and friendship from people who are experienced homeschoolers.
- You’ll discover new teaching techniques, curriculum ideas, classroom set up designs, and more.
- You’ll enjoy the company of like-minded parents who share your viewpoints, ideas, and homeschooling philosophy.
- Your kids will get a chance to socialize, meet new friends, and have fun.
- You and your kids will have a chance to get out of the house and break your normal routine.
I find that many parents not only talk about homeschooling issues but also personal issues. Personally, I’ve made a few really good friends and we share our thoughts on many subjects—it’s nice talking to another adult, too!
How to Choose the Right Group
Once you start investigating available homeschooling groups, you may find that there are many different “types.” Compare a few to find the one that works best for you and your kids. For instance, my friend joined a group which shares her religious viewpoints.
I didn’t think that would work for me. I looked for a group that believed in a more relaxed homeschooling philosophy. My kids definitely get their work done, but we don’t have a rigid schedule, and we explore topics that my kids are interested in, such as cooking and furniture building.
Finding a group is easy—just do an online search—but choosing one that you’re comfortable with can get tricky. Many parents attend a few different groups before choosing the one that fits their needs. Be patient, it will work out.
Co-ops Vs. Homeschooling Groups
There is a difference between joining a network or group and joining a co-op. For co-ops, parents and students usually meet at a place, such as someone’s home, and homeschool together. As a parent, you’ll spend a portion of your day with the co-op as a teacher or perhaps in another capacity.
Children benefit from a group learning setting and from the experience of being taught by different teachers. If an organized learning environment is important to you, look for a co-op in your area.
Support groups usually aren’t as structured as the organized learning setting that co-op members create. Either way, you will find that both offer many fun and educational opportunities. I’ll share what I have experienced.
- Group field trips
- Park days and/or p.e. days
- Organized clubs such as robotics, math, poetry, and rock climbing
- Book and curriculum exchanges
- Facebook groups for sharing information
- Organized athletic opportunities
- Holiday parties
- Group graduation preparation and ceremonies
My homeschool group only has five families, but we have a ball together. Their support over the years has been invaluable, and my kids have also enjoyed themselves.
In a Group, You’re Never Alone
Even if you don’t attend your group activities every week, you still have their support and friendship. As the saying goes, there’s “strength in numbers.” It’s comforting to know that you can contact someone in your group if you need help or a kind voice during a stressful time.
What’s also cool is that not all groups meet in person. There are also online forums that host homeschooling groups who assist each other with various issues. I use Time4Learning for my curriculum, and they have an interactive forum with peers who share my worries and concerns and offer solutions.
For instance, one new homeschooling parent from New Jersey asked how to start homeschooling her ninth-grade student. People from many states, including New Jersey, shared links and other helpful information so she could get started.
How cool is that?
Homeschool support is incredibly important for homeschoolers. I learned the hard way, but you can learn from my mistakes. And, if you haven’t already, start investigating groups, networks, and co-ops in your area. Just remember, we are in this together.
Homeschoolers are a community, a family from all walks of life with the same focus: providing a great educational experience for our kids.