Starting any kind of group can present challenges. But especially when starting a homeschool support group in which your child or children will participate, it will be important to you to set it up on a firm foundation and keep it steady. This article will give you some tips.
Define Your Purpose
Are you looking for a homeschool support group with whom to share ideas, experiences, materials, and/or resources? Are you hoping to change the homeschooling legislation in your state? Do you want other people with whom to do activities that work well in a group? This is the first question to answer.
Now consider this: what kind of homeschoolers will want the same things you want? That is, will any person who is homeschooling have similar, if not identical, desires? Or is what you want only going to be of interest to certain homeschoolers?
Here are some examples:
- An unschooler may be interested in changing legislation in the same way as you, but not in sharing curriculum resources.
- A Great Books program follower may enjoy having the opportunity for children to join together in theatrical productions of stories they’ve read, but not be interested in knowing about sources for free worksheets or in discussing activities related to current events.
- A Fundamentalist and a Catholic homeschooler are apt to have differences in identifying what they consider to be quality materials, and neither is likely to agree with a person practicing secular homeschooling.
Define Your Organization
Do you want to have a standard organizational model with a president, secretary, and treasurer? Or were you looking for a more informal structure? Do you hope to meet at a regular appointed time, or are you flexible to meet the group members’ changing schedules? Will your group meet in person, communicate by phone, email, or instant message, have a web page, or some combination of these?
Because some homeschoolers have been accused of being separatists, it’s also important to know that for your own personal support, there is nothing wrong with finding like-thinking people. You do not have to have a group open to all comers. Being unbiased and fair does not mean you have to share everything with everyone all the time. Free association means that for your personal support, you can choose those who will best contribute to the group.
So, do you want to have a Charlotte Mason homeschool support group? A conservative Christian homeschool support group? A Montessori homeschool support group? An unschooling support group? If that’s what you really want, decide it at the outset, and make it clear to any who are contemplating joining. If you do want to have a more inclusive group with a more general purpose, that’s fine, too.
Another important thing to decide is who will be available to join and how many members you want. Is your purpose such that you would welcome people you don’t know? If not, get comfortable making a statement that lets people know that you’re not accepting other members.
Where will you meet? If you want to meet in members’ homes, this will limit the number the participants. If you happy meeting in a library, at a church, or in a community center, then you may wish to think differently about membership numbers. And if you wish to affect state policy, you may wish to have as many members as possible.
How often will you meet? Will every meeting have the same schedule? Will you do anything besides your regular meetings?
Take the time to explain the group’s purpose and setup to anyone interested in joining. You might want to have potential members participate in one or more meetings or activities before a decision is made about them joining.
Give Yourselves Time to Grow
Most things don’t spring full-formed into the world. Give your homeschool organization time to grow. Your initial formulation might turn out to be excellent or might need some tweaking. If you’re open to maybe not having known everything at the beginning, you might discover some interesting things along the way.