If you are just beginning to homeschool, you need to make it a priority to find outside support. There will be times when you will have questions or concerns that an experienced homeschooler can help you answer. Other times, you will need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Be very careful sharing your struggles with friends and relatives who aren’t supportive of homeschooling. Even those who are well-meaning can hear your problems and use that as ammunition to encourage you to quit.
It’s great to have friends that are going through the same stages of homeschooling as you are. You can swap stories, compare curriculum choices, and fellowship. They can provide daily support and also times of fun for you and children together. But, it is an even greater blessing to find someone who has graduated at least one of her children. I am blessed to know a lady in my church who was among the pioneer homeschoolers in our state. Recently, I was able to speak to her specifically about some discipline problems in my home, and she was able to encourage me. One very specific way was to point to her oldest son and say that he used to act in a similar way! I can’t begin to express how happy that made me. This son is grown with 6 young children of his own. To know that he hadn’t been a “perfect” child made me feel like a weight had been lifted off of me. I was reminded that my hope should be in the Lord, not in my various methods.
So maybe you’re saying, “Thanks for the touching story, but I don’t know anybody else who homeschools. What about me? What should I do?
Seek to meet other homeschoolers:
A good first place to look is at your church. If your church is large, it may even have its own support group. Ask around in your Sunday School class. Ask your children’s Sunday School teachers if they know of any homeschoolers. Call the church or ask the pastor. (Obviously, how to find homeschoolers at church is dependent on the size of the church. At a small church, you would probably already know who was homeschooling, if anyone.)
Ask your friends. Often after you tell people that you’re going to homeschool, they will mention that they know someone else who is homeschooling (unfortunately, it’s not always meant to complimentary). Rather than just nod, you can ask them who it is and whether they could introduce you.
Ask at various places that homeschoolers typically frequent. Ask your librarian if they have any programs for homeschoolers, or call a nearby science museum or YMCA. If they have special homeschooling programs, you can meet homeschoolers there by attending those events.
There are two different ways to use the internet to find homeschoolers.
First, it can aid you in your search for local homeschool groups. Try finding homeschool organizations for your state. They should be able to put you in touch with someone in your region. HSLDA is a good place to start, though you are more likely to find a state group than a local one at this site.
You can also find other homeschoolers on-line. There are numerous blogs that focus on homeschooling. (Like The Curriculum Choice of course!) Each of the writers here also has a personal homeschooling blog. You can “meet” other homeschoolers on message boards or Yahoo groups. Check out Our Lifestyle of Learning. It’s a great and friendly group where you can ask questions. There are many on-line groups that discuss specific curriculum or general homeschool styles.
Though on-line support isn’t an exact substitute for local fellowship, it is amazing how wonderful friendships can develop with people you’ve never even seen in person. Sometimes, you can’t find a local person that you really connect with, but you can on-line. Of course the usual on-line warnings apply. Don’t divulge personal information where anyone could access it. It is also very easy to lose track of time on the computer, so be on your guard.
Finally, if you are a veteran homeschooler, seek to help others. Be accepting of new people at homeschool events. It’s wonderful to see our friends, but when we visit with our friends to the exclusion of others we may be giving a bad impression of homeschool families. I’ve seen way too many posts on-line about unfriendly homeschool groups!
Written by Kristen, relaxed Classical mom of 4. You can find her blogging at A Day in the Life.