|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
|Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp. All rights reserved.
|about the book
|The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Not comfortable with your local homeschool support group?
Start Your Own Homeschool Group!
by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006
"I felt out of place." "I didn't find anyone I could connect with." "My
children didn't get along with the other children." "The group expects too
much -- I have other commitments." "The group was too formal and too
structured -- there was no time for chatting." "The group was too
unstructured -- it was so chaotic I couldn't concentrate." "I felt that the
others disapproved of our choice of homeschooling approach."
"Everyone there uses the same curriculum." "No one else there uses
curriculum." "The members all belong to a learning co-op, but we're not
interested in doing "school-ish" things this year." "I wish they had a
co-op or at least group classes"
I hear it all the time, so be prepared. It's not always easy to find what
you are looking for in a homeschool support group -- because different
families need different kinds of support. In general, homeschoolers will
need to try out a few groups before finding a good "fit". A good fit takes
into account your homeschooling style, the personalities of your
children, and what type and level of support you, personally, are looking
for. All of these come into play when deciding if you will be happy with
particular established group.
If you don't find a local group that meets your needs -- then start up your
own homeschool group! You can do it! Starting a group is more fun if
you can find one other family to start up with -- so that at least you are a
"group" from the beginning -- but it can be done from scratch, as well.
When you start up a group, you need to make some decisions up front.
First, you need to decide if your group will be focused on a particular
homeschooling approach or religious affiliation, or will it be a "general"
support group, open to all interested families. Also, you need to decide
if your group will be set up with formal rules of participation (and what
those rules will be) or if you'll be setting up more of an informal
"play-and-chat" type group (which might grow into other activities, if
members want it to). If you decide to go with a formal group, NHEN has
some good tips for organization, getting non-profit tax status, and
other management issues.
Once you have figured out what your group will be like, you'll need to set
up a regular meeting time/place and then advertise it, with you listed as
the contact person. Post your meeting notice locally, at any location
where homeschoolers may be hanging out, and anyplace where there
are lots of children and families. Make a flyer that announces your
group, and include any activities that you are planning in the future.
The library bulletin board is the best and most important place to put a
notice. Speak with the children's librarian, too, and ask if you may put a
stack of flyers somewhere in the children's section. Ask the reference
librarian if she keeps a homeschool file, and, if so, ask if she will include
your flyer in it. Many libraries have a space for free brochures, too. If
you have time, you can make a short flyer on homeschooling, including
some basic internet links, your favorite books, and information on your
new group. Some libraries have free meeting spaces, too -- such a
neutral, public meeting space might encourage new homeschoolers (or
those just considering homeschooling) to come see what your group is
Some other places to post a flyer -- health food stores, grocery stores,
community centers, children's museums, the YMCA, city and county park
bulletin boards, etc. Contact local people who may be interested or can
pass along your announcement -- Mom's Play Groups, Church Groups,
La Leche League, community newsletters, and local newspapers that
offer an Events or Meeting Calendar.
Get the word out regionally, too - post your meeting notice on state,
provincial, regional, and local online homeschool groups and submit
your new group info to your state or provincial homeschool association.
Many Internet homeschool websites include group listings, by state --
ask to be included. Do whatever you can to get the word out there!
If response is slow, you may want to arrange a homeschool activity to get
to know more local homeschoolers, and have them help spread the word
about your new group. You can easily set up activities such as a field
trip to a museum or historic place, a club for the kids (such as Legos,
American Girls, chess, scrap-booking, creative writing, whatever your
child(ren) would enjoy). Advertise the activities in the same places
where you posted your new group information.
Realize that you may be a group of one family for some of these planned
activities, but keep a positive attitude that, eventually, others will hear of
your group, and get in contact... it just may take a while. In the
meantime, you may want to look into other regional homeschool groups.
Sometimes, it is worth driving an hour or two for good support, activities,
and companionship... and you may find that someone in a neighboring
town is doing the same thing, and will be happy to hear that you have
started a group closer to home.
next stop --
Aside From Homeschool Groups...
Where Else Can You Find Homeschoolers?