We are back from the NCHE Conference! It was so much fun! In a few weeks, I’ll be sharing with our local homeschool group’s used curriculum sale. I will be giving an informational session about how to get started homeschooling and about our group. So, I thought I’d share some of what I’m going to say about why you should join a homeschool group. You may or not agree and that’s ok. These are just my thoughts!
1. Socialization – Not just for kids! Parents need socialization too! It is vital for you to get support and friendships from people that understand what you are going through, the good, the bad and the ugly and the great! I personally go through withdrawal during the summer when I don’t get to be around my homeschool friends, just like my kids do. Of course, the kids need to build lasting friendships, it will be key when then enter middle-school. It will make your homeschool happier!
2. Activities – Sports teams, P.E., choir, band, clubs, co-ops, park days, field trips, parties, graduations and much more! The activities that can be offered by support groups are almost endless. They are there to enrich your students’ school career and give them a chance to meet other kids that like to do what they do. You may not want to participate in them all and for your sanity, you probably shouldn’t. But they are there for you to pick and choose from so that you don’t have to teach it all. They give your child an outlet and to give you a break. Choose wisely!
3. Park Days and Field Trips – I could write a book on why these are so important. My children met most of their homeschool friends on the playground. Now that they’re older, park days give them a chance to hang out with their friends with little to no agenda planned out for them. They look forward to field trips, even my high schooler, if for nothing more than for a chance to get to be with their friends. They are learning, I assure you!
4. Support Group Meetings – Our group meets once a month from August to May. Each month is a different topic and some months are family themed for example Talent Showcase, Family Night (similar to an open house), Spelling Bee. Attending support group meetings gives you a chance to learn more about homeschooling and to meet more parents. A chance for you to share your wisdom and to learn from the wisdom of others.
5. Group Testing – Some groups offer the chance of having group testing for the children. This is a great opportunity to get used to taking a timed test in a group situation prior to the ACT or SAT.
6. Board Members and Officers – Each group is set up differently. Our group has board members and officers that help make important decisions for our group. You may not think of this as an important reason to consider on why you should join a group. But, when joining a group, you should find out how the group runs, who makes the decisions, who do I go to for problems? It is vital to know these things! It gives credibility to a group and makes the group more accountable. Check out a board meeting sometime!
7. Used Curriculum Sales – Some groups offer these and they are a fantastic way to buy what you need and sell off the stuff you don’t!
8. New Member Orientation and Leadership Orientation – These may go by other names. But there are groups that offer special classes on getting the most of their group and how to start homeschooling. Our group also offers a class for those that are over various activities and events to go to Leadership Orientation. We update them on any new decisions made by the board, working with new members, how to get reimbursed, etc.
9. Service Opportunities – This is where you can help your group by taking a job. Yes, they are voluntary, and with some groups taking a small job is mandatory. In our group, new members get the first year off and after that, they are required to help the group in some way. This may sound terrible, after all, I’m a busy homeschool mom. But the truth is, we’re all busy homeschool moms, and if we want the things that our homeschool groups offer, then we need to pitch in and help. Homeschool groups can’t run all by themselves and it is a fantastic way for you and your kids to meet other homeschoolers!
10. Accountability – When you get to be friends with other homeschoolers, they can help you be a better homeschooling parent. You have someone to turn to when things aren’t going so good or when things are great. They can help you be more accountable with your own school. You have someone to ask, what do I need to do for high school? Do I really have to send in that paperwork? And a whole list of other things.
11. Safety in Numbers – By joining a group, you are helping to create a safety net for you and other homeschoolers. You will be able to find out information about legal issues that affect homeschooling more easily. By joining a group you are able to affect change for homeschoolers when needed. You also are a lesser target when things get tough for homeschoolers, you are able to stand together. Today a lot of homeschoolers are stepping away from there groups and doing it on their own. This is making it easier for states to come in and change state laws regarding homeschooling.
There are so many more reasons to join a homeschool group. It’s impossible to list them all, but these are some of the most important. This is my 10th year of homeschooling and out of those ten, I’ve spent the past several years as a board member of our local homeschool group and the last two years as vice president. I’ve been watching changes happening in homeschool groups over the past couple of years and felt it was important to encourage others to join a group or to encourage you to stay in a group. No group will be perfect. There will be things that you don’t agree with. But, that is also the beauty of a homeschool group. You don’t have to do everything the group does. We need to stick together, we are stronger together than separate. A group gives you the unique opportunity to be with other Christians that can pray with you, cry with and rejoice with you on your homeschool adventure! And it is definitely an adventure!