New to homeschooling? Veteran homeschooler, but just moved to a new state or city? Traveling the world and keen to meet like-minded folk? Whether you’re just starting down this road called “homeschooling” or you’ve been at it for a while, there may come a time when you will want to meet other homeschooling families. These are the families who “get” homeschooling, can share in your highs and lows, and have all the great tips on local deals, field trips, and co-ops. But if you’re new to an area or just don’t know any homeschoolers, where do you start? How do you make friends? While this is definitely not an exhaustive list by any means, here are 5 tips for meeting other homeschoolers.
1. Ask around:
Usually, someone somewhere knows someone somewhere who homeschools. If you’re feeling brave enough to share the fact that you’re looking into homeschooling, then simply asking friends and family if they know anyone is a good place to start. Social media can be really helpful here too. I’ve found Facebook to be a very helpful tool in finding out all sorts of things: a local dishwasher mechanic, a flooring company, best prices for diapers … you name it; I’ve found it! A “Hey Facebook Friends! I’m curious about homeschooling. Anyone got any homeschooling friends who wouldn’t mind me asking a few questions?” could yield some great answers and lead to new friends. One of my dearest friends first found me via the web some years ago with a list of homeschooling questions. We struck up a great friendship online and now see each other as much as our busy schedules allow.
2. Get online: homeschooling forums and more:
Sometimes finding local families who homeschool is not quite as easy as all that. When my family started down the homeschooling road, I knew only one other mom interested in homeschooling. We got together weekly with our little toddlers and enjoyed gleaning as much as we could from each other while enjoying our friendship and that of our girls. But we both still had dozens of questions, so I went online.
I joined the Sonlight forums and started asking my questions there. It was a safe place to ask all sorts of questions knowing that the answers would be delivered with a good smattering of kindness! Nowadays, forums like Hip Homeschool Moms’ Facebook page or Support Group offers similar support. Oftentimes we get to post questions like this one: “Anyone in the Green Bay, WI, area? Shelly is starting out and is keen to meet evangelical Christian homeschoolers!” The answers come rolling in with enthusiasm. So often we find the original poster chiming in with a “Wow! I am so encouraged by the support here!” Maybe you’re not from the USA and are wondering how to meet people in your local area. Google it! I run a Facebook group called Homeschool Western Cape for homeschoolers in the Western Cape of South Africa. We started out with just a handful of people and have grown exponentially since then. A file called “Areas Where We Live” keeps track of who lives in which suburb, making it easy for new homeschoolers to connect. Many people have found us via a Google search. Whether it’s Facebook or Google + or other forums, you’re bound to find something somewhere.
3. Join or start a co-op:
So you’re starting to find people in your area, but what about meeting up regularly? Many areas have well-run awesome co-op groups for homeschooling families. But some have none. A co-op need not be anything big, particularly structured, or expensive. When my eldest turned 5, we joined a brand-new co-op group of just 5 families started by two moms with similar aged kids. Aside from one family, I didn’t know anyone. It’s been 6 years and our group is one of the best things about our homeschooling journey. It’s our safe place. The children are all close friends, and the moms rest in precious acceptance and love for one another. How does one start a co-op? Here are some tips: Hip Homeschool Moms: Start Your Own Co-op.
4. Join extra-curricular activities:
Maybe starting something is not your strength. Running the show is not for everyone, but joining something can be. Examine what your children’s strengths and desires are. Look out for extra-curricular activities that can fit your family, and then find out if there are other homeschoolers who are a part of the team. My kids started drama a few years ago. We knew of one other homeschooling family. Now all their classes are mostly homeschoolers, and these kids have a ball together. Sometimes your local library is a great place to start. Ask the librarian for a list of the activities and clubs run at the library. Most librarians have a pretty good idea of who the local homeschoolers are, and she can point you toward meeting new families.
5. Reach out to your community:
The sooner you start reaching out to the community around you, the sooner you’ll start to make connections. If you’ve just moved, the best thing to do is to set aside any feelings of fear or self-consciousness. Go ring that neighbor’s doorbell and introduce yourself and your family. Find the soup kitchens, local shelters, or hospital visitation rosters and join up. Join the local library. Settle down in a new church. Chat with clerks at your local store. Read the community newspaper and find out how you can be involved in your community. Pretty soon you’ll be meeting all sorts of amazing people, and many of them will be homeschooling families just like yours!
Since it’s the summer and many homeschoolers are taking a break, Tip #2 and Tip #5 may just be your best bets for the season. And what better place to google than your local pool or park? Before you know it, your children will be immersed in playtime with other kids, and you’ll have an opportunity to get to know the moms obligation-free!