Starting a New Support Group

One of the most persistent criticisms of homeschooling is that the children will have no social life. Though homeschooling parents may know better, many parents are more secure knowing a number of other homeschoolers in their area so children can get together with other kids who are being homeschooled. Too, parents may have ideas for activities that will be more fun if other children are involved. And although homeschooling is by its very nature a somewhat solitary pursuit, most parents -- and children -- can benefit from exchanging ideas with others in smaller situations. One parent may be particularly interested in home science projects. Someone else may lack science of ideas but be able to share how he or she teaches music. Most homeschooling parents have questions over the years and having friends with similar questions -- and answers -- can only be helpful.

Once you've decided to participate in a group, or at least investigate one, you can check the directories of state or national homeschooling organizations that may have chapters in your area. Your public library will probably be valuable in locating local organizations as well.

You may find, however, that there is no group in your area. As you (and any interested parents you may know) consider forming a group, you may want to consider several questions, among them:

  • Will the group be secular, or will it have some religious affiliation?
  • Will a loose organization or cooperative learning work best?
  • Will the group have a definite leader (authoritarian) or will decisions be made by consensus?

Once these questions have been answered, find a location for an organizational meeting. A public place is best, as other people will perhaps already be familiar with the location, and you won't be inviting strangers into your home. Public libraries or park districts often have rooms that can be reserved free of charge or very inexpensively. Make posters and place ads EVERYWHERE (grocery, church, library, local paper) with a description of the group you hope to form, setting the meeting date about four weeks in the future.

At the first meeting, arrive early and have material ready that describes your goals. introduce yourself and encourage people to talk about their situations and what they hope to find in a homeschool support group. Ask people to write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers. Serve refreshments if your meeting place allows them.

Don't be discouraged if few people show up. Many groups begin with three or four members. So, at that first meeting -- PLAN A DEFINITE TIME AND DATE FOR A SECOND MEETING! Plan an additional activity, field trip, or play day for kids to get acquainted.

Continue to put posters and place ads as you have more meetings. Ask other members to help so you are not taking care of everything, and so other members feel fully vested in the group.