Pros of Homeschool Support Groups
Like other types of groups, homeschool support groups are flexible. They can be conducted online, by phone, or in person, providing for a variety of types of interaction under a variety of circumstances.
Especially for inexperienced homeschoolers and those homeschooling with their oldest child, having someone else who’s in a similar situation to talk over the situations, requirements, and approaches to homeschooling can be of enormous value. Having someone to bounce ideas off and talk over difficult times with is important in homeschooling as well as in other facets of life.
The homeschool environment is often spoken of as one that may affect a child’s socialization, but it also can seriously affect the socialization of parents who are homeschooling. A support group can supply some of the socializing that a parent tends to lose through homeschooling.
Homeschool support groups can also do a host of other things. They can provide socialization for children, if the support group meets in person. Children can simply play together or form a team, play games that require a group, or participate in other activities that benefit from more participants than families have by themselves.
Homeschool support groups can also become lobbyists for favorable homeschool legislation. They can work to make connections with local organizations and schools to share resources with homeschoolers. They can travel together to homeschool conferences or curriculum fairs.
Another thing that homeschool support groups can do is join together to share tasks. If multiple people have children approaching high school age, for example, the task of finding accredited high school home schooling materials could be shared out among members, so that each parent doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Cons of Homeschool Support Groups
Some people are just not “groupie” types: they don’t seek support from others in any facet of their life. But even for those who do turn to others, support groups can often become a commitment over and above the commitment of homeschooling. This is because if you come to a support group seeking help and support, most people consider it only fair and right to give back: if you have received advice, shared materials, and resources, you should give back in kind. This (completely fair) obligation can be a drain on the already busy homeschooling parent’s time.
The other element of joining a homeschool support group, as in joining most other groups, is that in most circumstances, one doesn’t have much control over who else joins or how they behave. Like any other group, a homeschool support group may attract needy people, unpleasant, opinionated people, and/or people who are not truly community-minded, and become a pain and a drain, rather than a support.
Homeschoolers do not necessarily have much in common: the person teaching a Bible-centered curriculum and the person who is involved in radical unschooling may each think the other is doing a grave disservice to their children. These differences tend to come out and be amplified in the context of a support group.
Of course, one way to address all of these potential issues is to set up one’s own homeschool support group with people with whom one is familiar and in agreement with mutually accepted terms. For more about this, see the article “Starting a Homeschool Support Group.”