If you’ve made the decision to homeschool your children, you’re likely wondering how to go about finding the perfect homeschool community that best suits your family’s needs. Luckily, with the number of homeschooling families on the rise, there are plenty of opportunities for finding homeschoolers in your area!
“Socialization” has always been a hot homeschool discussion topic. It’s not easy to find the right homeschool community for your student. It takes time and effort, but your time will be well spent. This article will help you find co-ops and other homeschooling groups that are available in most areas and direct you towards resources you can use to help assure your homeschooled child is appropriately socialized.
WHAT IS “SOCIALIZATION?”
Finding the right homeschool community or “socialization” opportunity that best suits your child’s needs and interests is challenging. The fact that we all spent most of the last two-and-a-half years sequestered in our homes does not make the task any easier. Many of us have experienced the shrinking of the circle of people we spend time with on a regular basis rather than being able to find new people and new groups that share our interests. Don’t be concerned if you find yourself starting all over again in finding the appropriate homeschool community that makes sense for your family. “We’re all in this together.”
WHY A HOMESCHOOL COMMUNITY IS A GOOD IDEA
I’m sure that, as a homeschool parent, you have experienced the associated feeling of “loneliness” that comes with your first attempts to “go it alone” as you build a homeschool. It gets lonely out there! Which is exactly why it’s so important to find your “perfect” homeschool community.
Finding a relevant community for your homeschooler is basically synonymous with determining the best way to “socialize” your student. “Socialization” is the process that prepares children to function in social life. This preparation varies from social group to social group and from culture to culture. Socialization means something different to an Anglo-Saxon protestant who was born in America than it might mean to a Japanese Buddhist transplanted to the U.S. This does not make either of these socialization processes better or worse than the other. It just means they are different.
The thing to remember in this case is that the level of “socialization” homeschool students enjoy is entirely dependent on how the adult(s) in charge of the learning experience coordinate and manage opportunities for outside activities. Not everyone who homeschools takes the time to plan extra-curricular activities or involve their children in the community. Take the time to expand your students’ awareness of the world around them and you will both benefit.
Homeschooled kids become socialized in direct correlation to how much effort their parents are willing to put into finding, arranging, and managing quality socialization opportunities for their children. The same can be said of giving back to the community. Homeschoolers can, and likely will, spend the time and energy necessary to participate in community service if their parents set the example and guide their children to appropriate and safe service opportunities. (Homeschool Facts, May 2017 https://www.homeschoolfacts.com/ ).
BENEFITS OF A HOMESCHOOL COMMUNITY CONNECTION
“Homeschool support groups help families feel connected and provide many options for home educators. Support groups (SGs) may be the formal variety (with meetings and dues), or it may be a few families who get together for playdates, field trips, park days, and other group outings.” “Homeschool groups come in many shapes and sizes. With a little research, home educators can understand the types of groups available and easily find one that best aligns with their family’s goals.” (https://homeeducator.com/homeschool-support-groups/What is a homeschool support group?)
Overall, homeschool support groups are great places to connect and engage with other homeschoolers. When you begin to homeschool, finding a connection that gives you the opportunity to share experiences, get advice, and find friends is often a lifeline.
FINDING A HOMESCHOOL COMMUNITY
Most of us are digitally connected to the rest of the world these days, so the best place to start looking for an appropriate homeschool community is the Worldwide Web.
First, try focusing on the “extracurricular” activities that interest your child. Here’s a short list of places to start your search:
- Service Clubs – 4H, Scouts, church clubs, etc.
- Individual interest clubs – does your child love dogs? Horses? Cats? Baseball? Soccer? Dance? There are endless groups focused on a wide range of special interests.
- Science groups – perhaps there’s a STEM group in your area?
- Skate parks
- Volunteer opportunities – local soup kitchens, local shelters, Senior Citizen Centers)
- Any library – most libraries host a full calendar of interest groups for kids
- Church – most churches sponsor any number of volunteer service programs
CLOSING THOUGHTS: Always remember – for the benefit of your homeschooled children – friends are an essential part of life! And don’t ever tell yourself that the day is so full you have no time to search out and coordinate a relationship with a homeschool community or socialization experience for your children. Because the homeschool day is basically unregimented and your teaching schedule does not have to be over-scheduled, your student(s) will have more time to socialize than the kid who is stuck sitting in a brick-and-mortar classroom all day.
Global Student Network – https://Globalstudentnetwork.com
Homeschool Facts – https://homeeducator.com
State-by-state Homeschool support groups directory: https://www.homeschoolfacts.com/homeschool-support-groups.html