“But what about socialization?!” If we had a penny for every time we heard that question, we would all be millionaires! But seriously, how do we socialize as homeschoolers?
There are actually tons of ways! To get you started, let’s explore some of the most common types of homeschooling groups as well as the benefits and challenges of joining so you can find the right homeschool group for you.
How To Find the Right Homeschool Group
Co-ops are a support homeschool group made up of homeschooling families that facilitates academic or extracurricular teaching.
Most co-ops tend to be parent-led or bring in outside teachers for instruction and can vary year to year based on participation.
But, most of the time these kids are taught once, to a few times a week, using the same curriculum so that they can learn and grow together.
If you can find a local co-op in your area, try it out! It may be the best way to find the right homeschool group for your family!
If you don’t know of, or simply can’t find a homeschool co-op, then look into creating your own! Ask around to find like-minded homeschoolers in your area to see if they’d be interested in joining!
GROUP CLASSES (OR CO-OP CLASSES)
Similar in structure to a co-op or private school, co-op classes are designed to encourage more parental involvement than a traditional private school.
They typically meet once or more per week and have a set schedule. Students complete some work at home under parental supervision and teachers are typically contracted or hired through an application process.
They might be members or contracted and paid by either the co-op or parents. Class communities are supportive of parent-led education and function as separate executors of the parent’s educational goals. IE- Classical Conversations
Support groups are independent of homeschoolers organized to assist and encourage one another.
These tend to be driven by some form of leadership, typically run by a consensus, and are sometimes non-profit organizations.
Homeschool support groups usually have regular meetings; whether park days, field trips, workshops, curriculum swaps, science fairs, performances, clubs, graduation ceremonies, or other types of events.
You can typically find homeschool support groups on social media or by searching the web for “homeschooling in (your area).”
These are run by co-ops that cater specifically to homeschoolers and focus on a specific area of study, exploration, or recreation.
This includes activities like sports, chess, astronomy, 4-H, band, choir, boy scouts, drama, or athletic groups.
By finding groups of people, or children, who have the same interests as your own kids- you’ve already got a great start at finding the right homeschool group for you!
There are many that specifically serve families of children with special needs, and are typically specialized based on the need.
When you’re dealing with special needs, it can be hard to find local homeschool groups. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
However, don’t be discouraged. Maybe the right homeschool group for you is online!
Regional Groups function as the hub for several other homeschool co-ops and support organizations. These generally consist of a board of directors and run with a full constitution, and/or bylaws.
Their primary focus is to connect, encourage, and serve homeschoolers in their region, and they typically sponsor larger events and activities.
This can include conferences, book fairs, seminars, leadership training, debate tournaments, and other events.
What better way to find homeschoolers in your area than at specialized homeschooling events?!
We live in an amazing age where we have access to incredible resources at the touch of a button! Internet-based villages for homeschoolers are on the rise.
They may be run by individuals or a bunch of people, and are established to benefit homeschoolers utilizing a particular curriculum, resource, method of teaching, philosophy, or some other commonality. Virtual co-ops range from serving specific local areas, entire states, or no specific region at all.
Now that we have a grasp on the various types, let’s talk about some of the benefits and challenges associated with participating in a co-op so you can find the right homeschool group for you.
Why should I bother to find the right homeschool group?
We are better together. When you join a homeschool community, you receive access to resources, skills, and opportunities you wouldn’t have on your own.
We need support
The right homeschool group offers friendships, advice, encouragement, and other types of tangible and intangible support.
Homeschooling (and mom life in general) is difficult, and we can’t do it all by ourselves. We were created to need one another.
Our kids need community too
Beyond the idea of “socialization,” our kids need to know they aren’t alone.
They need opportunities to build strong relationships with kids & supportive adults, as well as a safe place to learn life lessons with like-minded people who will come alongside them (and us).
Not every type of community is a good fit in every season. You’ve got to examine your circumstances and make the best decision for your family in that season.
What worked in one season may not necessarily be beneficial in the next. That’s okay!
Choosing the right homeschool group.
Sometimes the most difficult part of a homeschool community is simply figuring out what type of homeschooling groups are right for you.
Do your research, ask other homeschoolers, and write out your needs. It’s important to understand your expectations to determine if the people will meet your needs.
It is essential you don’t try to take on too much in any one season. That is a sure way to burn yourself out.
We are all unique and sometimes personalities clash. We have different values, beliefs, and communication styles, which can create some friction.
When you understand that God often uses the relationships in our life to refine and ready us for the next season, you can grow to appreciate the stretching that happens in community.
We were designed to live in community, so I hope you will take a leap and find the right homeschool group to connect with.
There are incredible resources all around you, and you are never alone! For more resources to grow your faith, strengthen your family, and simplify your homeschool, go to KatieJTrent.com/homeschool or pick up a copy of my new book: DishingUpDevotions:36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families.
A big thank you to Katie J Trent with Grow Your Faith for writing this guest post!
About Katie Trent from Grow Your Faith.
Katie is a popular author, speaker, and homeschool mama of two. She’s also a Pinterest drop-out with a messy house and happy kids—most of the time. After spending years helping others improve their lives through counseling and ministry, Katie realized the most fulfilling (and challenging) work she would ever do actually happens within her own home. Her new book Dishing Up Devotions: 36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families is now available for preorder, releasing October 26, 2021. Find more resources to grow your faith, strengthen your family, and simplify your homeschool at KatieJTrent.com.