One of the most important things you can do to successfully homeschool is to get hooked into a local community of people who homeschool near you. Whether your homeschool community is online where you find encouragement and support in a virtual environment, or in person and allows you to participate in field trips, co-ops, classes, and outings, avoiding isolation is key to homeschool success. Because local homeschoolers are often a helpful resource for understanding homeschool regulations, getting connected early can help reduce anxiety for new homeschoolers.
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"We offer activities for teens, but they don't come." If this sounds like your homeschool group, you are probably wondering why teens aren't interested in attending your events. Many groups are sincere in wanting to offer activities for older homeschoolers, and want to figure out why it's not working. As someone who has created multiple homeschool groups and co-ops in the many communities where we have lived, I have a few ideas about some of the reasons that may contribute to low attendance by teens. Read More »
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 ... Read More »
Homeschool co-ops work well as part of the educational landscape of some families. However, you may not be able to find an existing co-op that is near enough your home to be practical, or it may not meet the academic, creative, or social goals you have for a co-op. The other problem may be that there is a flourishing co-op nearby, but the co-op is full and has a waiting list. You can organize a new homeschool co-op yourself, and these 8 questions will help you decide the best way to do so. Read More »
Many children come to homeschooling directly from attending school, or the kids have been homeschooled their whole lives, but their parents' only existing model for group learning is the school classroom from their own childhoods. When parents hear about homeschool co-ops, they are excited about the possibilities that this kind of learning community might offer to their family. Read More »
How can I join a co-op? If you're looking for a homeschool co-op, keep in mind that co-ops have different approaches to new families. Some co-ops are "closed," meaning they already have all the families they can accommodate, and they are not accepting new members. Others take new members every year or every couple of years, as children age out, families move away, or needs change. Some co-ops actually hold an open house or allow families to visit during the spring of one year in order for parents and co-op participants to consider whether prospective members and the co-op are a good ... Read More »
You float an idea on a homeschool email list or a Facebook group: "I'm planning a field trip to Smith Historical Farm on the morning of April 10. I can get a group rate if we have 20 kids, and they'll do special hands-on projects with the children." You give the details, and people say "count us in," giving a headcount of 32 children for the field trip. The day before the field trip, emails start flying with all the reasons people can't be there. You go anyway, embarrassed to find that only 11 kids are there, and two of them are technically ... Read More »
A homeschool co-op is a group of families who meet together and work cooperatively to achieve common goals. Co-ops can be organized around academics, social time, the arts, activities, crafts, service work, or projects -- or some combination of these. Activities and classes that are part of a co-op may be led by parents, or the parents may chip in to pay all or some of the teachers and activity leaders. There may be as few as three families in a small co-op or as many as several hundred children in the largest co-ops. Read More »
My first homeschooling swap occurred in North Carolina when we were just starting out. A mom who was an artist with great homemaking skills taught my kids the basics of baking, sewing, and making pottery, and I worked with her kids on their writing. Her children and mine were widely spaced apart; I did high school work with her older teens, and my children were at young elementary ages. In fact, her children babysat for my kids -- but we never actually homeschooled all the kids "together." Read More »
Fall back-to-school often brings many homeschoolers to a choice: Do I join a homeschooling support group or co-op? There are many different types of homeschool groups, including intimate family groups with shared teaching, nationally-based tutor-led groups such as Classical Conversations, local extra-curricular-based support groups, state-based associations (such as Home Educators Association of Virginia), and local co-ops with parent-rotated teaching. The goals, purposes, cost, and time commitment varies with each different group, so it's almost impossible to speak in generality about the myriad options homeschoolers have for joining with other home educators. But if you're going to consider it, fall is ... Read More »