Benefits of Home Education Support Groups
Support groups can be an ideal way for both you and your home schooled child to get to know other families who are experiencing the same education system. Your child may benefit from meeting fellow home schoolers as well as other friends in interest groups such as sports activities – fellow home schoolers will be able to answer his or her questions about their education experience.
Other home schooling parents will be able to talk you through local laws and/or regulations and facilities for home schoolers, as well as help you to deal with specifically local representatives of agencies such as the Local Education Authority.
Support groups can be an opportunity to gain support from other home educating families, and help your children and you avoid feeling isolated. Other families may be able to help on issues such as choosing a curriculum, and sharing resources such as textbooks or science equipment.
Support groups can help build children’s social skills – they see you with other parents, there are new children from them to get to know.
Finding or Starting a Home Teaching Support Group
First it is a good idea to contact a big home education support group like Education Otherwise, or, for Scottish home schooling families, School House. They will try to find you a local group or may be able to give you a list of local home schooling parents who might want to start a group if there is not one in your area.
Otherwise, you may want to consider starting a support group for local home schooling families. If so, the first step is to consider what kind of support group you would most benefit from. Different kinds of support groups include:
Small informal groupswhere parents can meet over a chat and coffee and children can share toys and play together – usually best for young homed schooled children, and your base will probably be one member’s home, or several members home on a rotating basis. A more formal, structured support groupwhich provides activities for the children to carry out, which may change every time there is a meeting. Some of these groups organise arts and craft activities, others focus on sports, or music, or arranging visits and field trips – going in a group can involve a booking discount, and can be followed up by group discussion. Another type of grouphas a more specifically academic intention, where the support group helps children to study together, or work on group projects. One parent might take turns in leading the session, or the children could get on with it independently.
Organising the First Meeting
Contact a group like Education Otherwise to gauge interests levels and advertise your new support group, or put an advert in a local shop or newspaper. Then, it’s important to be organised at the first support group meeting, since this will set the tone for future meetings and the success of the group.
Write down all attendants’ names, phone numbers and/or email addresses and talk about ideas for the future shape of the group – do other parents want to see organised activities, informal meet-ups, etc. Talk about the regularity of the group – every week, or every month? Also finances – will there be a group kitty, or individual payments for specific events?. Then make a date for the next meeting!