How to Join a Homeschool Group
Group of local or online homeschoolers to form a community where we all feel relaxed and comfortable. Must naturally hit it off, and if our kids get along, that’s even better. Must share ideas, field trips, encouragement, tears, laughs, rides, curriculum, coffee, playdates and frustrations. Future possibilities include: starting a small learning co-op, holiday parties, book clubs for different ages, sports and more.
Sound too good to be true? It can be your reality! If you are new to homeschooling and haven’t yet found your tribe, taking the leap could lead you (and your kids!) to homeschool zen. Everybody talks about homeschool socialization for your kids, but what about for you? Why can’t you have both at the same time?
Homeschooling mom Angie Pemberton shares, “My tribe is our little group of kids about the same age. I think it gets a bit harder to homeschool as kids get older and they start feeling like they are missing out on some of the school stuff. This group helps us get the good stuff without the drama. We have our own little summer co-op and field trip group and love the support we get from each other.”
So where can you find – or how can you start – your own homeschooling tribe? Here are my suggestions:
Join an Existing Group
There are many homeschooling support groups in Georgia and the metro Atlanta area; a good place to start is the Georgia Home Education Association, which has a list of names and regions. Start with a large support group meeting to see if it’s a good fit for both you and your children. You may jell with a few moms, and you can then branch off into your own weekly meetup and bring others in as you make connections.
During school hours, go to places where homeschoolers hang out – libraries, parks, indoor play areas, zoos and children’s museums. Some libraries have a homeschooler lunch bunch; you can also search online for local co-ops and classes. Maybe you meet someone at the library who you think would fit into your group very well, and you invite him or her to your next park date or book club meetup.
Unless you are a social butterfly, heading into a group of homeschooling parents might seem a little scary. Take a deep breath and do it anyway … it’s for you and for your kids, after all, and you deserve to find that special supportive set of people.
Start your own group
Host a book club, nature hike or field trip and invite a variety of people you’ve collected using the methods above. Some might never come, some will come religiously, but soon enough you’ll start to figure out who your tribe is. My experience has always been that the kids will follow your lead and, if you get a large enough group going, they will find at least one person they also connect with.
For me, this is the easiest way to find and maintain your tribe. Start with social media sites like Yahoo Groups, Meetup and Facebook. You can start your own group online if you aren’t finding what you want, or if you just want to do your own thing. Invite tribe potentials and then they can invite friends they like. Your group might be full of homeschoolers from all over the country (or world!) or maybe you connect with a handful with whom you can meet locally.
Don’t forget you can have more than one tribe! I put together a great tribe of hippie-ish unschooling parents that met at a coffeehouse/gym combo for a long time, but then I also found a fantastic group of structured homeschooling women when my family started at a co-op. They are on entirely different ends of the homeschooling spectrum at times, but then so am I. You can, conversely, have one tribe that’s entirely online and one that only meets for field trips. The sky’s the limit.
What about disagreements and problems? It’s true that there are going to be disagreements in any group. Sometimes you just need a break after a sticky situation with another mom or between the kids; sometimes there needs to be a full-on break-up with the entire group. Sometimes you just change and maybe outgrow the tribe and slowly and politely make your exit with no hard feelings. People in your tribe will move away, stop homeschooling altogether, have drama over things non-homeschool-related and more.
Your tribe will grow, shrink and change. Be open to the tribe concept and I promise it will enrich the homeschooling experience for both you and your kids. Keep an open mind and collect your wonderful homeschool friends wherever you can find them. Then nurture those relationships, because you’re going to need the support on your homeschooling journey!
– Kerrie McLoughlin