My biggest piece of advice for new homeschoolers is to find your tribe. Homeschooling can be one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences for a family. It can also come with frustrations and challenges. A group of friends to do this beautiful life with, as well as encourage and guide you, can make a world of difference for your family.
When I first began my homeschool journey, we scattered our days with different groups and programs. While I strongly believed the academic opportunities were superior for homeschoolers than in conventional schools, I did not feel satisfied I was building a true homeschool community for my family. It was also important to me that my kids developed the deep relationships that I experienced growing up. As a result, I became extremely intentional about building a tribe. Now, I could not be happier than I am with our magnificent group of families with whom we do life. I love our joyful journey together, and I know they do, too!
”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”–Jim Rohn
Homeschoolers are a passionate, generous and energetic bunch. They are more than happy to help you with curriculum or any other frustrations or struggles you may encounter. There are many wonderful groups you may want to plug into. If you don’t have a group in your area that is a good fit, I suggest you build your own.
Establish friendships with JOYFUL families. Choose your friends wisely!
Here are some tips based on my experience to find and build your homeschool community:
- Seek out a group of friends who share your priorities. Whether it be faith-based, activity-based such as a nature group, service-based or anything else that is important to you, I strongly recommend you find a group where the parents share your priorities and values. You will help each other out as you bounce ideas off of each other. Also, having a group of like-minded ladies is a great support to lift each other up during those rough days. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Office of Facebook, said, “In the deepest sense of the word, a friend is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself, someone who helps you become the best version of yourself.” Your friends will help you to be the best parent and educational facilitator you can be for your kids.
- Set up events for families you want to develop deeper relationships with. Plan field trips, park days, Super Bowl parties, Easter egg hunts and more with families with whom you would like to spend more time. Field trips are a great way to find families who have similar interests and kids of similar ages as yours. As some of these same families come to the different events, they will connect with one another developing your homeschool community.
- Establish friendships with joyful families. Choose your friends wisely. I suggest you hang out with families whose children are a positive influence on your kids. The kids in my homeschool circle are kind, get along well with their siblings, enjoy learning and are respectful to adults. I love Jim Rohn’s famous quote: ”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” As a mom, you will be encouraged and gain wisdom from the right choice in friends.
- Create or join a co-op in which different parents use their passions and gifts to teach the kids. We were fortunate to have an amazing co-op in place, and I met some of my best friends there. Co-op is a day that is as much fun for the moms as it is for the kids. While the kids are learning, the moms have the opportunity to connect and chat. I could have chosen a drop-off program on that same day on a different campus. While it would be nice to have time to run errands alone and some me time, I would miss out on the bonding with my fellow homeschool mamas. I learn so much from other homeschool moms each week as I listen to them and ask questions. We have a great time! I leave each co-op feeling reinvigorated.
- Look for friends with similar lifestyles and educational philosophies. I don’t know any two homeschool families that educate in the same way. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customize your children’s education. However, your questions about curriculum, scheduling, etc. can best be helped with someone from a similar educational viewpoint. On the flip side, I see value in having friends with a variety of homeschool styles and philosophies. I learn so much from each one.
- Find families with kids near your kids’ ages. Our best friends have kids around the same ages as our own. We still get the benefit of mixed ages interacting because most of our activities are done with family units. However, my kids connect the most with their friends who are close in age and the same gender.
- Mom’s Night Out–Get out with your friends! One of the best ways to recharge is to share an evening out, afternoon at the beach, morning hike, a couple of hours over coffee or whatever works for you and your gals. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. The time away from kids is a great time to get to know moms on a different and more intimate level.
I can honestly and enthusiastically say that I love homeschooling, and I love our family’s homeschooling friends. I feel so blissful about our lifestyle of learning with them. I hope to have shared ideas that are helpful to some of you.
Do you love your homeschool community? What are some of your tips? Please share!
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