|Copyright 2005 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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 about.
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?
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|Be strong, be fearless,
And believe that anything is possible
when you have the right people
there to support you.
-- Misty Copeland
Each person holds so much power
that needs to be let out.
Sometimes they just need a little nudge,
a little direction, a little support,
a little coaching,
and the greatest things can happen.
-- Pete Carroll
I just try to get people to laugh - I'm not
trying to change the world or anything.
-- Drew Carey