Do you want to start a homeschool support group?
One of the biggest questions that parents new to homeschooling have is: "How can I make sure my child get enough social interaction?" You will find that as you tell others about your decision to homeschool, one of the first questions they will ask is: “What about socialization?” While we will not answer this question in this article, we will offer you a remedy for this problem.
The longer you homeschool and the more children you have, the less you concern yourself about socializing. You find that it becomes a normal part of your homeschool lifestyle. Plus, the socializing that takes place is not one of peer dependence, but rather one of enjoying building true and long lasting relationships.
But it is always good to have some sort of support for homeschooling moms as well as homeschooling friends for your children. Let’s look at the differing social needs of a homeschool family.
Start a homeschool support group for moms
As the bulk of the work in a homeschool falls to moms, it is important that she get to spend time refreshing herself in ways not related to homeschooling. But there is also a great need for her to get together with other likeminded moms to share the daily struggles and victories of her families homeschooling walk. These times of sharing can be evening meetings in another’s home or a coffee shop. They can also be a Saturday afternoon meeting where planning is done for upcoming outings, book sharing and times of teaching.
Start a homeschool support group for dads
Dad’s who are not involved in the day to day working of a homeschool need to be included as much as possible. It is often found that Dads are a reticent bunch when there is no common factor to unit them besides homeschooling. But where common interests like hobbies or sports are there it is a good idea to connect them through family days. Biking is another great way for dads and children to get together and enjoy some exercise and fellowship.
Start a homeschool support group for preschoolers
When a homeschooling family only has preschoolers (less than 6 years of age) it is always a good idea to seek out other families with preschoolers and set up a weekly playgroup. The venue for these weekly playgroups can be rotated so that each family in the group has a turn every few weeks to host the group.
The format for one of these playgroups can follow a simple plan for example :Circle time for songs and rhymesBible Story timeMovement timeTheme time based on Bible reading or another learning areaCraft related to themeSnack timeFree play, moms have tea
Start a homeschool support group for elementary grades
As your children grow older and there is more school work to do, the time for social activities is lessened. Added to that, most children start to take up sport and other extra murals which place more time constraints on mom and children.
This is then when homeschool support groups take on a more practical role. The support group that develops is two fold. There is normally a closely knit group of friends where the children spend time for purely social reasons. Then there is a larger group for organized activities like craft markets/entrepreneur days, sports days, galas and other such activities.
Start a homeschool support group for highschool students
In South Africa, at the moment, this is the age group that struggles the most for social interaction from within the homeschooling ranks. Parents need to be creative so that their teens have sufficient interaction with others who are following the same education path. Parents of highschool homeschooled teens often mention that for their children belonging to a church youth group has been their saving grace. Another mom commented that it was because of their teen’s involvement with Girl Guides and Rangers that they have found the highschool social years full and exciting.
It is worth noting another mom’s caution that it is in these teen years that the child needs interaction with their family most. It is also important to not create peer dependency in your teen but rather provide an exciting and vibrant home and family life.
Some support group ideas that have worked well for parents in the highschool homeschool years are:
Social evenings – pizza making and musicMovie marathon nightBraais (barbecues)Maths OlympiadBoard Game nightHabitat for Humanity groupsEarly morning beach walks and breakfastEntrepreneur daysShakespeare study groups
Homeschool support group for sports and activities
Many fathers new to homeschooling mention that they have fond memories of team sports in their school years. They also mention that they regret that their children, particularly their sons, will not be able to participate in some form of team sport.
Yes, the children may not be able to participate in a school setting, but there are many private sports clubs all over South Africa where a child who is talented in a specific team sport can join. Cricket, rugby, hockey, swimming, gymnastics, soccer and many other sports are open to homeschoolers.
Organizing a sports day or a gala as a homeschool support group is also great fun. While the work for this falls to the homeschool family that has the vision, they are always enjoyed by all.
Other activities that can be organized are:EisteddfodsCraft MarketsFood FairsCraft daysScience FairsHomeschool Co-operatives
Ultimately it will be a family who is diligent about creating a rich and vibrant homeschooling experience who will seek out others to start a homeschool support group for any need they find in their own family.
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