The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling, Part Five
Getting Involved with Homeschool Organizations
Homeschooling is amazing and definitely one of the best choices we have ever made for our family but it’s also hard. Don’t get me wrong, it is extremely rewarding and there are times when you feel like a homeschool rockstar. But just like parenting comes with its own set of highs and lows, homeschooling has its fair share of good and bad times. And at some point in your journey, you are likely going to need support, encouragement, resources, or advice.
Because of this, it is important to get connected with other homeschoolers and homeschooling organizations. This doesn’t mean that you have to run down to your local co-op and get as involved as possible or that you need to join every single homeschooling-related group you come across. What it does mean is that you need to research the different organizations out there and decide what kind of support you think you might need, especially if you live in a state with complex and involved homeschooling regulations. If you created a Homeschool Environment Plan, you should have a good start on this list already.
If you’re wondering whether getting involved can really be helpful or important for you, here are 10 benefits to consider:
- Legal protection. It’s no secret that homeschoolers are going against the grain. We are intentionally choosing to have a different lifestyle than the mainstream culture and sometimes that gets us a little more attention than we would like. There are homeschool organizations out there that include legal protection as part of their membership benefits. So if you should find yourself being contacted by CPS or in any other sticky situation, you know you have the legal protection you need to get you through.
- Some groups, especially umbrella groups or co-ops, offer assistance with state guideline compliance. This can include things like standardized testing administration, record-keeping, schoolwork submissions, and routine inspections of schooling environments.
- They keep you up-to-date on the latest homeschooling news, especially if you’re involved in an organization specific to your state. You’ll be able to more easily get information pertaining to homeschooling laws, the latest trends, methodologies, resources and more.
- Curriculum guidance. Many groups are happy to offer assistance when it comes to choosing a curriculum. Some have physical bookstores which allow you to look through resources before choosing to purchase. They may even have programs which give you the opportunity to buy used curriculum at deep discounts.
- Group classes. If you have an umbrella group or local co-op, check to see whether they offer group classes. Class topics can range from arts and crafts, to cooking skills to science and engineering labs and are offered for all ages. In some organizations, parents can even volunteer to teach these classes in exchange for discounts on membership dues.
- Academic documentation. Getting involved with certain organizations can get you student or teacher IDs, transcripts, diplomas, and other important academic documentation to help your school run smoothly and comply with state laws. Being able to get IDs also allows you to take advantage of student/teacher discounts at education supply stores, local businesses, and attractions!
- Sports participation. Larger homeschool groups and co-ops give your kids the opportunity to participate in organized individual and team sports – just another thing you don’t need to worry about sacrificing by being a homeschooler!
- Speaking of things you don’t have to give up when you become a homeschooler, most organizations offer social activities. Check for regular meet-ups, play dates, clubs, and other social events to help you get to know other homeschoolers and develop new hobbies.
- Annual conferences and other special events. Annual conferences provide an opportunity to network with other homeschoolers, receive encouragement and inspiration via informative conference sessions, and check out homeschooling resources, curriculum offerings, and more in the exhibit halls. Other special events can include charity auctions, volunteer opportunities, etc.
- Discounts on local events, curriculum, and more. Some organizations partner with local museums or curriculum publishers to provide special discounts and offers exclusive to their members.
Most of the examples given above pertain to participation within physical groups, but don’t overlook the support and encouragement benefits that being a part of an online group or organization can provide. In fact, because I think it’s so important to get involved, I have created a homeschool encouragement and support group on Facebook called Savvy Schoolers!
When I was first starting homeschooling, I had a very difficult time finding groups that I could connect with online. I had so many questions. I wanted to talk about curriculum choices or even just get general advice on how to get started homeschooling in the first place! My goal in creating Savvy Schoolers is to create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere where all those questions can be answered and more. I want to bring together homeschoolers from all points in the journey – from beginners and those who are just deciding whether or not homeschooling is for them to veterans who have homeschooled for multiple decades. Sometimes we need encouragement to get us through the rough days, sometimes we need concrete suggestions and ideas from those who have experience, and sometimes we need to be the one to help someone else out based on our experience.
Stay tuned for the next and final post in this series – an expert round-up of advice and resources!
Here is a handy navigation list to all of the posts in The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling Series:
- Part One – 9 Reasons to Homeschool
- Part Two – Planning Your Homeschool Environment
- Part Three – The Curriculum Conundrum
- Part Four – Creating Your Homeschool Schedule
- Part Five – Getting Involved with Homeschool Organzations
- Part Six – Expert Advice from 5 Experienced Homeschoolers