How to Find a Homeschool Support Group (or Start Your Own)

Tips and Tricks for Locating or Starting a Homeschool Support Group

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Bales, Kris. "How to Find a Homeschool Support Group (or Start Your Own)." ThoughtCo, Jun. 21, 2017, thoughtco.com/homeschool-support-groups-4142879. Bales, Kris. (2017, June 21). How to Find a Homeschool Support Group (or Start Your Own). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/homeschool-support-groups-4142879 Bales, Kris. "How to Find a Homeschool Support Group (or Start Your Own)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/homeschool-support-groups-4142879 (accessed September 26, 2017).
Homeschool Support Groups
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Homeschooling can feel isolating for children and parents alike. It’s so different from what most people are doing and it's not uncommon to be the only homeschooling family in your church or neighborhood or among your extended family.

Taking full responsibility for your child’s education sometimes feels overwhelming. Add to that all the friends, relatives, and complete strangers insisting that your child is going to be a lonely social outcast, and you may start to wonder if you really can homeschool your child.

That’s when you need a homeschool support group – but if you’re new to homeschooling, you may not have a clue how to go about finding one.

First, it helps to make sure that you know what you’re looking for. Many new homeschooling families confuse support groups and co-ops. A support group is, as the name suggests, a group where parents can find support and encouragement from others in similar circumstances. Most support groups offer activities such as field trips, social gatherings, and meetings for parents.

A homeschool co-op is a group of parents cooperatively educating their children through group classes. Although you'll encounter other homeschooling families and can likely find support, the primary focus is on academic or elective classes for students.

Some homeschool support groups do offer co-op classes, but the terms aren’t interchangeable.

How to Find a Homeschool Support Group

If you’re new to homeschooling or have moved to a new area, try these tips for locating a homeschool support group:

Ask Around

One of the easiest ways to find a homeschool support group is to ask. If you know other homeschooling families, most will be happy to point you in the direction of local support groups, even if they’re not part of an organized group themselves.

If you don’t know any other homeschooling families, ask at places that homeschooling families are likely to frequent, such as the library or used book store.

Even if your friends and relatives don't homeschool, they may know families who do. When my family began homeschooling, a friend whose children attended public school gave me the contact information for two homeschooling families she knew. They were happy to answer my questions even though we didn’t know each other personally.

Take to Social Media

The prevalence of social media in today’s society makes it an excellent source for connecting with other homeschoolers. There are no fewer than a dozen Facebook groups related to homeschooling in my local circles alone. Search Facebook using your city’s name and “homeschool.”

You can also ask on the pages and groups you’re already involved in. If you follow a homeschool curriculum vendor's page, for example, you can usually post on their page asking if there are homeschooling families near you.

While not as common as they used to be, many homeschool-related websites still offer member forums. Check them to see if they offer listings for support groups or post a message asking about groups near you.

Search Online

The Internet is a wealth of information. One excellent resource is the Homeschool Legal Defense page. They maintain a list of homeschool support groups by state, which are then broken down by county.

You can also check your statewide homeschool group’s page. You should be able to find it listed on the HSLDA site. If you can't, try using your favorite search engine. Just type in your state’s name and “homeschool support” or “homeschool support groups.”

You may also try searching by your county or city name and the keywords homeschool and support.

How to Start Your Own Homeschool Support Group

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t find a homeschool support group. You may live in a rural area without many homeschooling families. Alternately, you may live in an area with many groups, but none which are a good fit. If you’re a secular family, you may not fit in with the religious groups or vice versa. And, as unfortunate as it is, homeschooling families are not above forming cliques, which can be off-putting to new families.

If you’re unable to locate a homeschool group, consider starting one of your own That’s what some friends and I did in our early years of homeschooling. That group is where my children and I formed some of our closest friendships that are still strong today.

Try these tips for starting your own support group:

Decide on the Type of Support Group

What type of support group would you like to form? Secular, faith-based, or inclusive of both? Formal or informal? Online or in-person? The group my friends and I started was an informal, online group. We didn’t have officers or regular meetings. Our communication was primarily through an email group. We did arrange a monthly mom’s night out and hosted back-to-school and year-end parties.

Our field trips were planned and organized by group members. If one mom wanted to plan a trip for her family and work out the details to include other group members, that’s what she did. We offered tips to make planning less stressful, but we didn’t have a designated coordinator.

You may want a more formal, organized group with regular monthly meetings and elected officers. Consider the details of your ideal homeschool support group. Then, seek out one or two like-minded individuals to help you get it started.

Consider the Type of Events You’ll Offer

Most homeschool support groups, whether formal or informal, will plan some sort of events for member families. Think about the type of events your group might offer. Perhaps you’d like to develop a group whose focus is field trips and family-friendly activities or one that hosts speakers and professional development opportunities for homeschooling parents.

You may want to offer social events for the children or even a co-op. You might consider activities such as:

  • Holiday parties such as Valentine’s, Christmas, or Halloween
  • Back-to-school or year-end parties
  • Playgroups and park days
  • Middle school and high school social events (dances, bowling, or bonfires)
  • Science, geography, or other themed fairs
  • Clubs such as book, Lego, or chess
  • Physical education
  • Sports opportunities – either organized or field-day events

Decide Where You’ll Meet

If you’ll be hosting in-person support group meetings, consider where you’ll meet. If you’ve got a small group, you may be able to host meetings at members’ homes. Larger groups might consider library meeting rooms, community facilities, restaurant meeting rooms, park pavilions, or churches.

Consider the factors that may influence where you meet. For example:

  • Will you serve refreshments? If so, what does the facility allow outside food and drinks?
  • Will you offer childcare? If so, is there a place where children can safely play?
  • Will you have guest speakers or will you address the group formally? If so, choose a facility where members can be seated and everyone can see and hear the speaker.

Advertise Your Group

Once you’ve worked out the logistics of your new homeschool support group, you’ll need to let other families know you exist. Our group placed an advertisement in the support group section of our local homeschool newsletter. You might also:

  • Post a notice on the bulletin board at your local library, used book store, or teacher supply store
  • Share details in your church bulletin or neighborhood and civic group newsletters
  • Set up a booth or print brochures for local homeschool conventions and used book sales
  • Share your brochure or a simple flyer with moms groups such as Mommy and Me gym classes, MOPS groups, or La Leche League
  • List your group on websites that offer information about support groups

Most importantly, talk to other homeschooling families as much as possible. Word-of-mouth advertising in the homeschooling community is second to none.

Most homeschooling parents will find that they benefit from the encouragement of a homeschool support group, particularly on the days when homeschooling is hard. Use these tips to find the right group for you and your family - even if that group starts with you and a couple of friends.