Homeschooling is hard. First off you have to figure out what and how to teach your children while being put under a microscope by most of the people you meet or even your family. Secondly, you have to fight with yourself daily, over things like, if the kids are where they need to be, are they getting out enough and learning how to be social, are you even doing anything right? Well, these along with a long list of other things that can weigh on your mind as a homeschooler is why you need to find your homeschool crowd.
Just like in any activity you need to find others that are doing what you are in a way similar to you. People you can relate to and complain with (trust me you want to find your complain with crowd, we all need one.) But how do you find your crowd when you homeschool? How do you find events and playgroups for your kids? The first place to start is social media. As much as we all have our problems with social media the one thing it does give us is an excellent network to find others that are doing what we are doing. I personally am in a number of groups, some of which I am very active in, some where I am a fly on the wall, and some that I have started myself. There are groups for everyone, no matter how you choose to teach your child. Some take members from everywhere and are designed to be a support group as well as a good way to find out about other groups local to you. Others are area-specific and you can find them by searching for groups based in your area.
If you like me find your area limited in what they offer you can always start your own. When I started homeschool 10 years ago the area I live in had just a few groups and many were not what I was looking for, so I started my own. The group I started was a homeschool hiking group and the purpose was for people to come out to a different trail each week to hike, explore and socialize. I have met so many amazing people through this group and this was how my kids and I found our first good friends. I did not make this group into anything specific about homeschooling, it was just designed to get people out in a relaxed atmosphere to chat and get some outdoor time.
I am also part of a local activity group. Things like park days, field trips, an art get-together, and so on are put up in this group. Through this group, I got my book club. This was done for me. I love meeting up with other mothers and reading a book each month. We all have different views and opinions about the books so the discussion time is always tons of fun. Being in this group led me to another great thing you can find for your kids, a co-op. There are a few other co-ops in my area but they were not a good fit for us. Through my book club, I found out about a new co-op that sounded like just what we needed. Then of course the dreaded Covid hit and put the co-op on hold until this past fall when we were finally able to hold classes.
So far we have had an amazing experience at our co-op. My kids get to meet up with others twice a week. They get to learn, play and just socialize in the ways they need. I get to teach and meet other families that school in similar ways to us. It is a great feeling to have a group to get together with twice a week and know that both my children and I get to hang out with others. This group has been especially good for my youngest who has always struggled to fit in but has found a good number of kids to hang out with each week.
The most important thing about finding your people is that you actually have to look for them. When we homeschool we have to be willing to get out there and try things and meet people. I know many of you might read that and say no way I am not extroverted enough to meet people, but you have to! I know it sounds like a tall order but think about the fact that both you and your kids will benefit from having a group no matter what size to navigate the twists and turns of homeschool.
Once you have found some groups on social media take a moment to post a little intro about you, and your kids, you may even want to let people know the general area you live in. This will give you an idea of how many people leave near you and some may even suggest other local groups that they know of. Now you have to do the hard part, reach out to a few people, plan a park day meet up, or check out that group or co-op mentioned and see what you think. Just because you head to an event or meet a family at a park doesn’t mean that you have to again. Maybe you realize they are not what you were hoping for, and that is fine but you need to try again.
Homeschooling can be lonely, parenting can be lonely and when you are doing both without a few friends that are in it with you, things may begin to feel even more isolating. So get out there, meet some people, try some events and find your crowd. Your homeschooling experience will greatly benefit from it, as will your mental health!!!