Getting Started

2. Find Support

Home schooling is a bit different from institutional schooling. Most of us home schooling parents were not home schooled, so it's important that we learn "how" to home school, as well as learning about the materials, curriculums, field trips, etc. that we can use to home school.

Support from other home schoolers can help us with this on-going learning, and when you have a more challenging day (which happens once in a while), it is also very useful to know other home schooling parents, who can help you with ideas and give you encouragement.

Home School Groups

In a home school group you can meet other parents who have experience. They can give you ideas, and your children can make friends with their children. They can tell you about specific activities in your area, and usually these groups also have gym classes, field trips, and other activities.

The best way to find a home school group is to ask other home schoolers in your area. Otherwise, you can search the Internet (I use the Google search engine at www.google.com), you can ask at a home schooling or teacher's store, ask your local school authorities (if they are friendly), or ask on an Internet E-mail Discussion Group (see the next section).

Most home school parents are very friendly and helpful. We have become great friends with many wonderful home schooling families, through our local home school group.

Internet E-mail Discussion Groups (Yahoo Groups)

In an e-mail discussion group, you e-mail a question in, and others can read it and answer it. There are groups for every imaginable topic. Each group has a different topic. There are lots of these groups for different aspects of home schooling.

The home schooling ones are great for asking all kinds of questions about home schooling. There are local, national, and international home school discussion groups. If there is a local one for your city or area, they can be an excellent place to find out about all kinds of activities in your area, and to meet other home schoolers. The national ones are great for how-to home schooling questions, finding out about home school curriculums and resources, getting encouragement, etc.

The best place to find these on the Internet is at Yahoo Groups, http://groups.yahoo.com. If you have never used a Yahoo group before, you will have to register once. Registration is free. The Yahoo groups cover a huge range of subjects outside of home schooling, so they can also be a good place for getting lots of information about other special interests your children have.

Other Home Schooling Families

Get to know other home schooling families. They are a great source of mutual support. You can arrange play dates for your children. You can discuss home schooling problems with people who are interested in home schooling (and won't suggest sending them back to school as a solution to a minor home schooling problem). You can share your successes. You can meet some great friends.

Often, non-home schoolers have weird ideas about what home schooling is about. If you have a minor problem, they immediately think home schooling is the problem, so send them back to school. (Remember there are lots of problems in schools, too.) Fellow home schoolers will tell you how to solve the problem, or how they solved it, or who or where you can go to get the help you need to overcome problems, so your child can keep getting all the advantages of home schooling.

Also, many people find some of their closest relatives are the most afraid of home schooling, so be careful, and get support from people who are familiar with home schooling (just like you get medical support from people who have some familiarity with medicine, like doctors rather than in-laws). And note that a professional teacher may be familiar with teaching group classes and methods and curriculums that work in group classes, but that doesn't mean they know about home schooling. There are a lot of methods that we use that don't work well in group classes, like one-on-one discussion, hands-on activities, more field trips, special interest projects, etc. and some of their methods don't work well for home schooling, like lectures and extensive workbook work (especially for the younger children, under grades 5 or 6, where hands-on experience is what they remember).

Finding other home schooling families can take some time. To start with, see the previous two sections on home school groups, and Internet e-mail discussion groups. Also talk to people in your neighborhood, community center, and church about home schooling and ask if there are others home schooling there.

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