How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

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. 

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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    From the beginning, we’ve been homeschooling together.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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    Mom’s Night Out overlooking the ocean!

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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You may also be interested in:

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Business Insider Says Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two

 

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Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

“I could never homeschool. I don’t have the temper for it.” We’ve all heard this many times before. As I contemplate this recurring comment, it makes me wonder if it is actually the opposite of what many people think. Perhaps it takes more patience to have a child in conventional school than to homeschool?

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  • Morning Rush–In homeschool, you don’t have that morning rush to get out the door and be on time to school. When we were in public school, I remember hollering at my kids almost daily to hurry up and get moving so we were not counted tardy. Now, we have a nice breakfast together with lots of read-aloud and discussion time. I love it!
  • Afternoon Homework–Many kids come home from conventional school wiped out but are then required to complete homework on top of their extra-curricular activities. My friend, who recently made the switch to homeschool, told me how she battled with her son nightly to complete his homework, but he was just fried from the long day at school. Now that he homeschools, he chooses to wake up and start his school work at 6:45 each morning so he can get it done early and enjoy free time. She and her husband are shocked at how eager he is to complete his work without any battles.
  • Sibling Relationships–Most of our homeschool family friends have siblings who really enjoy each other and get along well. My hypothesis is because they do so much life together. They have so many meaningful experiences together out in the world. They know one another’s friends well because we are experiencing the world with them, too. We read aloud books as a family and discuss them. Parents also invest a lot of time in character training. I don’t know the precise reasons homeschool kids typically get along so nicely with their siblings, but it is very obvious and impressive. I hear parents of conventionally-schooled parents talk about how their kids fight a lot, and it really comes to a head over the summer. While my kids get into a spat every now and then, it is usually harmonious and playful.
  • Kids with Different School Schedules–Last year, my friend had 4 kids with 4 different school schedules: Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 7th grade and 9th grade. This was a lot of work on her part to drop off and pick up at different times and coordinate carpooling. I don’t have to worry about this as a homeschool parent. My kids do their work in the comfort of our home, and then we are out the door experiencing the world together as a family and with friends!
  • Busywork–Since I select the materials for our homeschool, we are not bogged down with busywork and other assignments that I do not feel add value to my children’s education. When my son was in public school, the homework was so easy, but it was excruciating to get  him to complete it because it was so boring and redundant. I’m also glad we don’t have to spend time on diorama boxes and other such projects.
  • Curriculum–I don’t have to get frustrated because a curriculum does not fit my child’s learning style. As a homeschool parent, I have the flexibility to change it up. I don’t need approval from a teacher, principal or anyone else to make this change.
  • Attitude–Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” My children’s homeschool friends are some of the best kids you could expect to meet. They are kind, smart and excited to learn. They are full of smiles and laughter. I don’t see any type of bullying or attitudes that I hear about with conventionally-schooled kids. I’m thankful my children are growing up with these kids.

“I love being with my children. They’re fascinating people.”–Amy Grant

  • Time with Kids–Some people can’t wait to get their kids back in school. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy some down time. However, I like being with my kids.  I am  thankful to have them for the freshest and best part of their days. Their most alert and cheerful time is from around breakfast until after lunch time. I have not shipped them off for these special hours. I am not met with a tired and overstimulated kid when they return to me in the afternoon. I am not fighting with my exhausted kid to complete homework. Rather, we are usually done with all our school and are already out exploring the world together with friends when the end-of-day school bell rings for most kids.

Are you considering homeschooling your kids? If you are in public school, there usually isn’t a wait list to return if you try it out and it is not a good fit. I say it is worth the gamble because making the decision to homeschool could be one of the best and most important choices you will make in your lifetime.

In his book, The School Revolution, Dr. Ron Paul lays out the case for homeschooling and why now is the best time to get started. This book has been the most influential on my thinking and homeschooling journey.

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The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise is another excellent book to read while considering homeschooling. It was the first book about homeschooling I ever read as I contemplated the change from public school. While I do not follow a classical model of education, it gives you many great ideas as well as curriculum suggestions based on grade level.

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Continue reading “Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?”

This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool

This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool

In an election season where we  have seen numerous examples of corruption, narcissism, poor ethics, and megalomania, it reinforces for me that I am so glad I have taken control of my children’s education back from the government.  I trust that my husband and I know what is better for our children’s education than people with power, money, and agendas at stake.

Dr. Ken Robinson states in Creative Schools: “One of my deepest concerns is that while education systems around the world are being reformed, many of these reforms are being driven by political and commercial interests that misunderstand how real people learn and how great schools actually work. As a result, they are damaging the prospects of countless young people.” Dr. Robinson also  delivered the most watched  talk in history of TED called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

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I am excited and grateful to be part of the contemporary homeschooling movement. We are a grassroots  movement of families creating innovative, entrepreneurial, and customized educational programs for our children. In addition to solid academics, our kids are learning in such a wide variety of environments that just can’t be replicated with brick-and-mortar schools. The joy and creativity bursting from them is powerful and gives me such hope for the contributions they will make in the future for our world! Innovators and creators are in great demand in this 21st-century economy!

“If parents understood that they are responsible for their children’s education in the same way that they are responsible for their feeding, housing, and clothing, we would see far more attention given to the content and structure of educational programs.”–Ron Paul in The School Revolution

Continue reading “This Presidential Election Reinforces How Glad I Am to Homeschool”

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House

This messy homeschool house is what I came home to this afternoon.  Just off an all-day field trip yesterday and a full day at co-op today, my house will not win any Good Housekeeping awards. Honestly, this is more the norm for my house than an anomaly.

To be frank, a neat house is not my strength or priority. We love to spend our time out experiencing the world and exploring with friends! I cherish the time I read aloud to my kids. I’d much rather be doing those things than fussing over a meticulous house.

This is my trade-off for a neat house. Here are priceless memories from yesterday at an apple farm in the mountains where we learned about life in the late 1800’s as well as pressed apples and made cider with some of our dearest friends.

Continue reading “Why I’m Thankful for My Messy Homeschool House”

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education

Many homeschoolers have rejected the one-size-fits-all system in public and private school classrooms and have embraced a free market education for their children. As educational facilitators for our kids, homeschool parents are able to choose from vast quantities of curriculum and educational opportunities. With the ability for such customization, I don’t know two homeschooling families who do it the same way. Every plan is unique to each child and family. Homeschooling is educational entrepreneurialism at its finest!

recent Business Insider article titled “Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st-Century” squarely stated: “While traditional schools try their best to tailor lesson plans to individual students, teachers often still end up teaching to the middle. There are simply too many kids learning at different speeds for teachers to give each of them exactly what they need. Homeschooling, meanwhile, is personal by design.”

Homeschoolers are free to customize every element of their child’s education and have so many excellent options from which to choose. Here are a few:

  • Curriculum–In most classroom-based public and private schools, a one-size-fits-all curriculum is used. This is not the case for homeschoolers. There is a massive selection of curriculum. Go to a homeschool convention or visit a site like Rainbow Resource to get a taste for all that is out there.  This allows families to select something that is a good fit for each of their children. If after trying a curriculum they realize it is not optimal, they are free to try something else. Their hands are not tied as they would be in a public or private school where a parent must accept their entire program.

Continue reading “Homeschoolers Choose Free Market Over One-Size-Fits All Classroom Education”

Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists

As a homeschooler, you are an original and non-conformist ready to move the world! Instead of your kids attending conventional schools like 96% of the K-12 population in the USA, you have demonstrated the mettle to provide your children a different experience and opportunity. 

 

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We immersed ourselves in the  genius of  the Walt Disney Company last year at a weekly class inside Disneyland.

 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”–George Bernard Shaw

I love to read a wide array of books, synthesize the information, and apply the lessons to education and homeschooling. I will share many of these synapses with you on my blog with hopes you will have take-aways for your homeschool. Today, I will discuss the #1 New York Times bestseller, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. 

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Foreword by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

 

According to the book: “Conformity means following the crowd down conventional paths and maintaining the status quo. Originality is taking the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.”

“Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality….When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins. Rules and systems were created by people.”

As homeschoolers, we have not followed the conventional path but have taken the road less traveled and created a better education and lifestyle for our children than the status quo. By demonstrating this vision and initiative, we have modeled for our children not to conform and to think critically.

I hope my kids will move the world  with their passion and ideas. As we have embraced a lifestyle with plenty of time for learning out in the world in a variety of ways as well as a home rich in literature and discussion, they are learning to be original and not follow the crowd or a set of codified rules in a classroom.

 

Continue reading “Homeschoolers: Originals and Non-Conformists”

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Dear Secretary King,

Earlier this week, you stated you were concerned many homeschoolers were not getting the socialization and educational opportunities as their peers.

You must be unfamiliar with contemporary homeschooling. Not only are many homeschool families excelling in academics but are also on the cutting edge of 21st-century education. In fact, the education world could learn a lot if they spent some time studying what contemporary homeschoolers are creating. In many cases, it is educational entrepreneurship at its finest! Regarding socialization, I find the opportunities for homeschoolers as vastly superior to those in conventional classrooms.

Let me break down and address your reported concerns:

  • You worry that, in a lot of cases, students who are homeschooled are not getting the kind of the breadth of instruction experience they would get in school.

     

We are able to provide our kids with truly customized, high-quality educations. We don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum, and we aren’t bogged down by hierarchies and bureaucracies to make change. We don’t teach to the middle or to a test. I never planned to homeschool but had to pull my son from public school because he was so far ahead of his peers. He was bored, and our local public school in an upper-middle-class area was not able to provide adequate rigor or challenge.

There is a large and impressive ecosystem in place for homeschoolers to take academic and enrichment classes. Some classes my kids , currently ages 6-10 years old, have taken with their homeschool friends over the past several years include physics, chemistry, public speaking,  NASA engineering, art, Spanish, aviation, Meet the Great Composers, chess, engineering structures, Lego Writing Club, cooking, botany and violin. In my view, our kids are exposed to so much more and in a much more enjoyable way than their conventionally-schooled counterparts.

  • They’re also not getting the opportunity to build relationships with peers unless their parents are very intentional about it.

I love the way my kids are socialized with our homeschool friends. They are not confined to the same desks, playground and cafeteria  day-after-day. Instead, they are often out in nature enjoying the freedom and purity of those landscapes together. Other times they are interacting in places as diverse as museums,  nature centers, restaurants, galleries, workshops, performing arts theaters, farms, planetariums,  and more. This stimulates tremendous creative interaction amongst the homeschoolers.

They are more actively engaged in conversation, thought, movement and play with friends. Their friendships are strengthened as they learn and play together in a wide variety of interactive environments. This is in stark contrast to the humdrum of being in the same classroom with the same teacher in the same desk each day.

Additionally, homeschooled kids build relationships with peers of a wide age range. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, wrote in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:

 “There is nothing natural about segregating kids by age. That isn’t how families work; it isn’t what the world looks like; and it runs counter to the way that kids have learned and socialized for most of human history…..As anyone who’s ever spent time around children can tell you, both younger and older kids benefit when different ages mix. The older ones take responsibility for the younger ones. The younger ones look up to and emulate the older ones.  Everyone seems to act more mature. Both younger and older rise to the occasion. Take away the mix of ages and everybody loses something. “–From The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Sal Khan

 

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  • Students who are homeschooled are not getting the kind of “rapid instructional experience” they would get in school.

I don’t know exactly what you mean by this. One of my friends, who is a former science teacher, replied to your comment, “That just means they go so fast and shallow that many kids don’t get it, and the others don’t care about it.” The typical homeschooler takes a different approach. We go deep into subjects. The lifestyle of learning in the homeschool community is a beautiful thing. It goes beyond our academics and can be found in the vacations we take, types of birthday parties we have, weekend activities and more.  Two of the most important skills of a 21st-century education are curiosity and a love of learning. If you spend time in the homeschool community,  you will see children who are frequently out in the world joyfully learning in a variety of environments from people who are passionate about their field and craft.

Also, a large chunk of homeschool families have at least one parent who is currently or was a teacher. This really should raise some eyebrows as to what is going on in public education when so many who have taught in the classroom have decided they can do better by taking them out of the system.  A veteran public school teacher with decades of experience is the person who really encouraged me to pull my son from public school and homeschool him.

  • They’re often not getting those relationships with teachers and mentors other than their parents. You worry whether home school students are getting the range of opportunities we hope for all kids.

Homeschoolers are able to get their academic work done in about half the time of their conventionally-schooled peers. This gives them far more time to be out in the world engaged in their passions with mentors. If they love birding then they can volunteer at the Audubon Society and learn from the naturalists there. If they are passionate about fossils then they can volunteer with a paleontologist. My homeschooled cousin is the youngest docent at our local aquarium. At just 10 years-old, she leads talks throughout the aquarium for visitors.

 

Additionally, there is a huge infrastructure of classes for homeschoolers. Homeschool parents are educational facilitators for their kids and often sign their kids up for classes. They have the flexibility to find the best teachers, tutors, and mentors they can. They aren’t stuck with whatever teacher they end up with at conventional school. True educational customization!

You did concede there are some families doing it well and you knew of some homeschoolers in college who had “very tremendous academic success.”  I am thankful for our freedom in homeschooling and agree with you that “it’s up to families if they want to take a homeschool approach.” Homeschoolers, in my view, are by far the most entrepreneurial segment of the U.S. education system, and homeschooling is superior to any public or private school when done well. Nothing beats the level of customization homeschooling parents can offer their children with all that is available to us today.

Respectfully,

The Contemporary Homeschooler

You may also be interested in:

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part One

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning Part Two

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