Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: How to start a local homeschool group

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to start a local homeschool group

Around five years ago, I decided to start a homeschool group in my community. There was a co-op that met nearby, but I wanted more of an a la carte style group, where people could participate in the activities that interested them and skip the ones they didn't without making a year long commitment.

The response was slow, but we soon grew to several families. Over time, dozens of families joined us, some staying and others moving on, until eventually we grew to a thriving group with nearly 100 families with no sign of slowing down.

Just a small fraction of the families in our group today.

Homeschooling is steadily growing all across the United States, with well over 2 million estimated homeschooled students today and continued growth expected. There are homeschool groups in most large communities across the country, and many areas offer more than one. Even rural areas often have at least one local homeschool group within an easy drive.

If you live in an area without a homeschool group, or the selection of nearby groups is simply not a good fit, you may be considering starting your own. Starting a homeschool group is not so hard, but it will take some patience and dedication. Here are some things to consider.

Decide what kind of group you want

There are lots of different homeschool groups, from very religious church-based groups to completely secular groups and everything in between. There are co-op style groups, where kids attend classes led by volunteers, and there are play groups where families mostly get together to hang out and socialize. There are groups that offer single classes or field trips in combination with play days and other social opportunities. Some groups are open to everyone, and others are closed and difficult to even find. You have to decide which type of group you want before you can start building.

Connect with other homeschoolers

Although you can get the word out about your group with flyers or ads in the newspaper, the best way to connect with other homeschoolers today is to establish a presence online. Whether you build a website or create a Facebook page, you need to have some way for people to find you. I suggest starting a Facebook page or group with the name of your group, and make the name one that will be easy for people to search. A group named “Sun City Homeschoolers” would be much easier to find than “Fun in the Sun Home Educators."

Find a place to meet

Once you have met a few other homeschoolers, your homeschool group will probably want to hold a first meeting. You may meet at the park or in the library, or maybe at a church or even someone’s house. Most groups start small and grow gradually, so the meeting space that fits in the beginning may need to change over time. Decide on a place to meet and make arrangements.

Set a schedule

Whether you want to meet weekly, monthly or perhaps on some other schedule, you will need to decide on at least the dates and times for your first couple of meetings. Work with your other members to come up with a schedule and then publicize your next few meetings on your webpage or online group.

Keep spreading the word

If you want your homeschool group to grow, you will need to keep letting people know about your upcoming events and how to join the group. Come up with fun activities for the kids and give the parents time to socialize and get to know one another so that they will want to keep coming back. Before you know it, you will likely have a thriving homeschool group with lots of friendship and support for everyone involved.

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