There is a dirty little S word among homeschoolers no one wants to hear. The dreaded "socialization". It is the first thing a family gets asked when the decision is made to homeschool and it seems to be the one thing non-homeschoolers worry the most about.
But this isn't about that dreaded word, this one is about what I believe every homeschool family needs: SUPPORT, specially from other homeschool families.
My family has been incredibly blessed to have found support even before we began this journey. I was lucky enough to know someone who, unbeknownst to me until then, homeschools. She offered her support, guidance, and when a group was being formed at her church, she invited me to join them.
For the last two years, we have joined the other families in this group for fun activities and field trips. Yes the kids get a chance to "socialize" but honestly, I think I get the most out of these opportunities. There is nothing as encouraging as talking to another parent about an issue you are facing and have them say "oh yeah we have gone through that too". We are all at different stages in our homeschool journey; and I've always received lots of support and encouragement when I've needed it.
You may be thinking, why do you need support? Don't homeschoolers want to be left alone, and be away from the general population? Isn't that why you took your kids out of school?
Well no, but that's a story for another time. If there is a family out there who homeschools to stay away from the rest of humanity, I obviously haven't encountered them. Because, you know, they are staying away from the rest of us.
Today some of our group got together to have a Valentine's Day party for the kids. I was reminded then how blessed I am to be part of a group that supports my journey, who makes us feel welcome, and who actually cares about us.
Why should you join a group if you homeschool?
Yes your family may be supportive, and your friends may be supportive. But unless your family has homeschooled and your friends are in the trenches with you, you still need the support of people who are traveling the same road.
On the days when the kids will not listen, when the laundry is piling up, and you are ready to flag the yellow bus down the next morning and ship them off to school, you need someone to remind you "this too shall pass".
2) Curriculum suggestions
We've only been doing this for two years, and we have changed curriculum several times. Not because they were not good but because they didn't work for my kids. So what do you do when you are in search of yet another one? You go to that group of parents who has traveled that same road and ask them for suggestions.
Looking for a used curriculum sale, suggestions on how to test your kid, or just a recommendation for a book/movie for you or the kids? Look no further.
Sitting with someone and talking about parenthood always makes me feel normal. Really, it does. It helps me realize that my kids aren't as terrible as I think, they are just kids. When you sit to talk to a parent who homeschools, you already have something in common; and it gives you grounds to explore what other things you may both like.
5) It is fun
Whether you are in group that meets on a regular basis, or part of an online community, being part of a group is fun. You can laugh together at the frustrations that come with daily life, about the funny thing your kids did, or just hang out while the kids get to spend time doing that other S word, socialize.
So if you are considering homeschooling, make sure to find a group that can offer you more than just socialization for the kids. One that will offer you the support you need.