The following is a post from contributing writer, Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Over the last ten years that we’ve homeschooled, I’ve pointed out many times that I’m not sure I’d have made it through that first homeschooling year without my support group. Ten years later, though, I’m not as active as I once was. I don’t go to many of the events, and I’m feeling guilty about that. You see, homeschool support groups are just as important for us veterans as they are for the newbies.
Why are homeschool support groups important for new homeschooling families?
The answers to this first question are probably pretty obvious.
When you first begin homeschooling, it’s highly likely that friends, the grandparents, and other extended family members are going to think you’re absolutely crazy. You need to have the support and encouragement of those who know you’re not crazy. You need people who’ve walked this road and can assure you that your children really aren’t going to turn into unsocialized misfits, despite what the rest of society is telling you.
You need people who can assure you that the bad days will pass, your child will learn to read, there are ways for a math-phobic mom to teach algebra, and that you really don’t have to have the patience of Job.
Support groups are also a wonderful resource for navigating the often overwhelming waters of curriculum fairs, state regulations, and curriculum choices. I still remember a homeschooling friend who talked me down from the brink of hyperventilation at my first curriculum fair. I was ready to pack up all the well-researched curriculum sitting at my house and send it all back so I could buy stacks and stacks of all the shiny new curriculum gracing those shelves.
While I don’t think the average homeschooled kid is going to become a social outcast if you don’t have him in scout group, on sports teams, and in a dozen outside classes – all at once – let’s face it: You can’t play Red Rover very well with Mom, Little Sister, and the family dog. It’s nice to be a part of a larger network of homeschoolers so that your kids can enjoy group opportunities like field trips, science and social studies fairs, PE classes, and parties, such as our Valentine’s party or the year end/back to school parties that we’ve enjoyed for years.
And, the social aspect isn’t just for the kids. I can’t tell you how many times a Mom’s Night Out came just when I was teetering on the brink of insanity.
But, why are homeschool support groups important for veteran homeschooling families?
When you’ve been at this homeschooling thing 10, 15, 20 years or more, why do you really still need a homeschooling group? Well, there is the fact that our younger kids need the same social opportunities that our older kids had. Yeah, ouch. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. Just because I’ve been on the same field trip two or three times, doesn’t mean that my youngest remembers it and wouldn’t enjoy it.
That’s not the main reason, though. And, in the interest of full disclosure, the following is as much for me as it is for you because I’ve been guilty of bowing out of a lot of group events over the last couple of year and guilt is starting to set in. Are you ready?
Maybe we don’t still need our support groups, but our support groups still need us.
Where would you have been at the start of your homeschooling journey without veteran moms leading, guiding, and encouraging you? Maybe you didn’t have that. Maybe your support group was a bunch of newbies fumbling your way around. Wouldn’t you have loved to have had a veteran mom come alongside you to mentor and support you?
It’s fine for us to begin handing over the reins of planning and orchestrating to the younger moms, but it’s not okay to toss the reins and run.
Are you a veteran mom who’s been guilty of skipping out on support group meetings? Are you a newbie mom who needs the encouragement and support? What are some ways that we can minister to each other?
Kris blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She is the classically eclectic, slightly Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom to three amazing kids, the Christ-following, sweet tea addicted wife to one unbelievably supportive husband, and the formerly obese, couch-potato-turned-healthy runner of a bunch of 5K races and two half-marathons.