As homeschooling becomes more and more popular people are finding it easier to find and develop homeschooling support and relationships. But easier doesn’t mean easy. In fact, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that people are having a really hard time finding decent homeschool support networks. I don’t know if I’ve been lucky (although I think that’s a big part of it) or if I’ve looked in the right places because I’ve found great groups every place we’ve lived and homeschooled. (Scratch that, we had one place with nothing, but they’ve developed some groups since we left)
As secular homeschoolers, finding that support is even more rare. Plus, the word secular is often debated or meant as inclusive. So even finding a secular homeschool group doesn’t ensure like-minded individuals.
But I’m not here to tell you how great your plight is, I’m here to tell you why you want a support network and how to find one.
(We do not hold hands, but we do often stand in a circle for announcements. I don’t want you to think you have to touch strangers to find a group)
Why You Want a Homeschool Support Group or Network
Humans are social animals. And I say this as an anxiety-ridden introvert. Everyone needs at least a little bit of social interaction. Many people can find that online which is great because they solves a lot of problems regarding finding local groups. But some people need in person social activities (that’s me!) and need to get out.
But why? People with social support are generally healthier (in mind and body), heal faster, handle stress better, and report higher life-satisfaction. Of course, these only apply to healthy social support situations. You can’t be friends with people who are toxic and expect benefits. Don’t befriend someone just because they are there. Sometimes you are better off without a social network. I do not want to encourage anyone to remain or enter into toxic relationships.
Homeschool relationships are different though. Because very often when you need to complain after a hard day of teaching your kids, people will say “Just put them in public school. It’s free”. And while they aren’t wrong, I wouldn’t call that supportive. Sometimes I need someone to just say “Kids suck, I’m sorry”.
There are so many options for curriculum but it’s much easier to weed through with a group. You can discuss the ins and outs and maybe even put your hands on it. It’s quite a different experience than hearing thoughts online.
Your kids need support, too. I’m not talking about socialization. Yes, that’s important but I firmly believe that most homeschool families get plenty of socialization without really trying. No, kids need support. They need friends they can confide in, other adults they can trust. This doesn’t have to happen at a homeschool group, but it can.
Where to Find Homeschool Support Groups
- Facebook. Many groups have the city name in the title, plus homeschool. A quick facebook search might show promise for local groups.
- State homeschooling webpages. This won’t apply to every state, but we have a website specifically for Arizona that lists homeschool groups. Unfortunately it’s incredibly outdated, but it does at least provide a bit of information.
- Meetup.com. Okay, I haven’t actually found a homeschool group here. But there is potential.
- Ask at the library. Some librarians are in tune with local homeschoolers and might have information to provide.
- Look for local homeschool events. Sometimes museums host homeschool days. If you can meet people there, they might be able to recommend a group.
- Just show up at parks, museums, playgrounds, etc during school hours. If you see another school age kid there is a chance they are homeschoolers.
- Google. You’re not likely to come up with many groups but you might find Yahoo Mailing Lists or local blogs. Asking in these places may provide some answers.
Don’t Discount Online Support
Some people live in areas that are so rural, there is simply no support groups around. While starting your own is an option, if you’re a new homeschooler that’s going to be difficult. There is nothing wrong with relying on support online. There are tons of facebook groups, online forums, and other social media for interaction. It’s not the same as face to face but that doesn’t mean it’s less than. It’s just different.
Some people really don’t want face to face interaction and that’s okay too. The beauty of the internet is that it’s here for all of us, no matter our reasons.
So go out and find your Homeschool Tribe!