Ah, midsummer. Though kids may be preoccupied with fireflies and pool parties, it’s certainly not too early for parents to start thinking about homeschool plans for the fall. One thing we urge you to put near the top of your checklist is connecting with other homeschool families..
Why? You may as well ask whether an Olympic curler really needs someone with a broom to help land those 44-pound stones on target. (Why curling? I’m a Canadian by birth, and I think curling is awesome!)
At Home School Legal Defense Association, we’ve always considered homeschooling a team sport. Joining a community of homeschoolers just makes sense—it delivers access to more resources, provides encouragement and support, and unites families in defense of the right to guide their children’s education.
OK, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and find a homeschool group. Now you’re probably wondering: Just who do you sign up with and how?
You might start by looking for a co-op. As the name implies, these groups can consist of something as simple as a handful of families co-operating to achieve a shared educational goal. For example, parents might alternate teaching on topics of special interest.
In this way, one parent who isn’t as advanced in a certain subject can get help from a parent who has more expertise.
I was in a homeschool co-op in the late 1980s, and this model has continued today. In fact, the Los Angeles Times published an article about California mom Crista Maldonado-Dunn and several other parents who started homeschooling after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down traditional schools in 2020.
According to the Times, “They formed a co-op (affectionally called their ‘tribe’) and began meeting in Maldonado-Dunn’s backyard in El Segundo. Parents took turns teaching lessons, many of which were centered on their own identities and cultural histories. Maldonado-Dunn’s children were able to learn more about their Apache, Samoan, African, Spanish and Portuguese heritage. Family elders were invited to teach lessons.”
Sometimes groups focus less on helping with education and more on supporting educators. For instance, you may need assistance filling out paperwork required by homeschool regulations, choosing curriculum, or finding therapy for a student with special needs. Wouldn’t you want access to a team of veteran homeschoolers who can guide you in these tasks?
HSLDA has specialized in this area for almost 40 years, and local support groups also play an important role. Michigan mom Bernita Bradley certainly saw the value in having homeschool parents share their knowledge and experience. When homeschooling started booming in her area, she formed Engaged Detroit, a group dedicated to helping newcomers find answers.
As she told Cato Institute, many families she talked to posed the same questions about homeschooling. “What do I do? What are the laws around it? How do I get my child to do it?”
Engaged Detroit not only built an online forum for parents to post and address these concerns, but the support group also assembled a team of coaches to meet with families in-person.
“They go over everything from their rights, to understanding different curriculum and different homeschooling styles,” said Bernita.
And groups are still a primary go-to for academics, especially when it comes to advanced classes that require materials and study aids you don’t necessarily have at home.
As HSLDA’s Director of Group Services, I recently assisted the administrators of a homeschool group that focuses solely on science. They provide classes at all levels, but are particularly geared for high school courses and labs such as chemistry, biology, and physics.
Groups like this one are a great way for parents to keep their homeschooled students on track for college without having to bear all the costs for pricey gadgets such as microscopes and Tesla coils.
Finally, don’t forget the fun stuff. Some organizations form so that homeschool kids can team up for great extracurricular activities.
For example, PEACE Homeschool Group in Iowa used a grant from HSLDA to stage its first musical this year. Thirty students of various ages performed Seussical Jr., based on the best-known works of children’s author Dr. Seuss.
And then there are organizations like Florida’s Palm Beach County Homeschoolers, which provides activities that many other students take for granted.
As WFSU Public Media reported: “The group makes sure kids get to experience a lot of the things they would at a traditional school, like a science fair, a geography fair, a talent show, and a yearbook. And, of course, ‘park days’ like the recent one in Royal Palm Beach.”
These activities allow kids to connect with other students of all ages, and helps them build friendships that can last a lifetime.
So how do you find groups like these?
A good place to start is HSLDA’s handy search tool that will help you browse for homeschool groups in your area.
Our website can also connect you to your statewide homeschool organization. (HSLDA strongly encourages you to join them, too!)
Remember to check your local library or community center to see if any groups meet there. But what if your area lacks support for some aspect of homeschooling?
Then consider starting something new!
HSLDA is available to help you brainstorm ideas for launching homeschool groups. We’ll walk you through legal considerations and offer practical suggestions for organizing and drafting policies for your group. Email GroupServices@hslda.org to set up a time to talk to us.
Remember—we’re all in this together!
Senior Counsel and Director of Group Services
Darren is a litigation attorney, homeschooling dad, and homeschool graduate who helps HSLDA member families resolve legal difficulties related to homeschooling. Article courtesy of HSLDA.