I have been homeschooling for 8 years now, and have been part of one homeschool group or another for 7 of them. I’m going to put aside all that socialization nonsense for a moment and get to some of the real reasons I think you need to be part of a homeschool community that meets regularly.
1. It’s about me really. I need time to connect with other moms dealing with the same issues I am. I know these moms are going to understand when I tell them my seventh grader still can’t grasp her times tables or my fifth grader won’t stay focused long enough to get through a lesson. I can lay my burdens down without judgement. They also understand the struggles of trying to run a house and still educate our children. Basically, they get me.
2. It gives our children something to look forward to consistently. When our co-op isn’t in session there are often days that go by where we don’t leave the house. And as amazingly fun that I think I am, my children don’t always share my enthusiasm for quiet days at home.
3. They get to take part in the back to school hype. I don’t know if you have any children that struggle with wanting to go to school, but one of mine used to regularly ask for me to put her in school like her other friends. If you join a group that meets regularly like a co-op, you can purchase those cute backpacks and lunchboxes and fill them with all those great back to school supplies. Getting to go shopping for these things helped her to not feel like she was missing out too much.
4. You get to build a community of like-minded friends. Most of my children are introverts; I talked about my daughter’s struggle here, but they all really desire to have friends. Let’s face it, while I think sibling relationships are awesome, my son doesn’t want to make one more friendship bracelet and sometimes my daughters get really tired of hearing about Minecraft. If it wasn’t for our homeschool group, life would be a little lonelier for them.
5. I’m lazy. Ok maybe not lazy, but certainly unenthusiastic about certain subjects. So I enthusiastically sign my children up for classes in our co-op with teachers who are passionate about these subjects. I have even been known to beg certain ladies to teach a class so that I didn’t have to teach it at home, and honestly with some of those hard subjects, my children respond better to someone else’s teaching.
6. It’s more fun to do fieldtrips and park days with others, especially if you hate planning field trips but you feel guilty if you don’t ever go on any. The burden can be passed around and everyone gets to enjoy the benefits.
7. It forces you out of your comfort zone. Even if you are the quiet shy type, chances are, you have a child that is not. I have a friend who was happy to never leave her house, but her daughter loved spending time with friends, so she made an effort to get out at least once or twice a month for her daughters sake.
8. Ok, to return to the socialization part. (Have you seen that meme, “we socialize our dogs, we Educate our children”?) love that! But I digress. I think we can all agree that our children probably don’t need socialization in the sense that most people think of. But have you ever been at an event with a group of homeschoolers where they were told to get in line? Lines seem foreign to homeschoolers; they tend to group together in herds. Or have you been at a field trip where there is a speaker who asks a question and kids just start shouting things all over the place, because they don’t know the proper etiquette is for them to raise their hand? This is the kind of socialization that is good for our children to participate in.
I have been part of co-ops and part of social homeschool groups. Each has played an important role in our homeschool journey. I have met such sweet women and families that have encouraged and spurred me on those tough days and celebrated with me on the good ones. If you have been hesitant about joining a group, I would encourage you to try one out, or start your own. It only takes a few families to build a community.