by Amanda Witman, Oak Meadow
At first, particularly if you are new to homeschooling, it may seem like there are no homeschoolers around at all. But chances are very good that they are just hidden in plain sight!
Families in many areas have established homeschool groups that meet for field trips, projects, playtime, and even parent-run classes. Finding them can be the hardest part. Some homeschool groups maintain a low profile to respect or protect the privacy of their member families. So it can be challenging to make that first connection. But homeschoolers, in general, are very resourceful and well-connected, and once you’ve found one local homeschooling family, you may soon hear about others.
Find Other Homeschoolers
Have you wondered about how best to find other homeschoolers in your area? Here are some suggestions for where to look.
Ask at the library. Most homeschooling families develop an active relationship with the local librarian. He or she may be able to connect you with other families.
Put up posters at the community center, grocery store, town office, or other places where homeschooling parents and children are sure to see them. Your poster could say something as simple as, “Do you homeschool? We’d love to connect!”
If your community has an online bulletin board or a local newspaper, you might be able to publish a classified ad or notice. Advertise a playgroup, potluck, or not-back-to-school picnic and see who responds.
Go to the park, indoor playground, or other local kid-friendly venues during school hours on a school day. If you see another family there with school-aged kids, ask them why theirs are not in school. With luck, their reason will be the same as yours!
Although homeschooling is more mainstream than ever, it has roots in the alternative and natural parenting culture. So if you are a secular homeschooler, you might see if you can find like-minded parents through the local natural foods store or parenting groups such as La Leche League. if your homeschooling focus is religious, your faith community is a great place to start.
Sympathetic local or state school officials are sometimes empowered to connect homeschooling families with each other. Inquire with whomever is in charge of homeschool enrollment or registration for your locale.
Visit local learning centers and attractions such as museums, environmental education centers, aquariums, historical sites. They often have special rates or visit times for homeschoolers, so ask their recommendation on how to connect with other homeschooling visitors.
Put out the word! Let supportive friends and family know that you’re in search of homeschooling connections. They may not know of any local homeschoolers, but they may know someone whose Aunt Martha has a neighbor whose son homeschools in your town. It’s worth a try.
Look online. There are many groups, boards, pages, lists, and websites devoted to homeschooling. (Oak Meadow’s Facebook page alone has over 27,000 followers.) Some homeschooling support boards are for members only; others are public. Some focus on particular regions. You may find one local to you, or you may need to post something specific asking for responses.
Jump right in and talk with people wherever you go! You never know where you might make a connection or get some helpful information.
Don’t be shy about seeking connection, and be persistent if you don’t find it right away! Being proactive is the best way to find community quickly. What resources are there for connecting with homeschoolers in your area? Tell us about the best resources you know of and where to find information. Other families near you will be grateful! How did your family find other homeschoolers to connect with?