Wanted: A group of local or online homeschoolers to form a tribe where we all feel relaxed and comfortable with each other. Must naturally hit it off and if our kids get along, even better! Must share ideas, field trips, encouragement, tears, laughs, curriculum, coffee, playdates, and frustrations. Future possibilities include starting a small learning co-op, enjoying holiday parties, starting book clubs for different ages, interacting in sports, and more.
Sounds too good to be true? Believe it. It can be your awesome reality! If you are new to homeschooling and haven’t yet found your tribe, taking the leap could lead you (and your kids!) to Homeschooling Zen. Everybody talks about homeschool socialization for your kids, but what about your socialization, too? Why can’t you and your kids socialize at the same time?
Homeschooling mom Angie Pemberton shares, “My tribe is our little group with all the kids being about the same age. I think it gets a little harder to homeschool as kids get older and they start feeling like they are missing out on some of the [traditional] school stuff. This group helps us get the good stuff without the drama. We have our own little summer co-op and field trip group, and love the support we get from each other.”
Where can you find or how can you start your own homeschooling tribe? Lots of places!
Online. To me, this is the easiest way to find and maintain your tribe. Start with Yahoo Groups, Meetup, and Facebook. If you google “homeschool groups [your city],” you will also find some great options. You can start your own group online, too, if you aren’t finding what you want or if you want to do your own thing. Invite tribe potentials and then they can invite friends they like. Your group might be full of homeschoolers from all over the province, country, (or world!), or maybe you connect with a handful of homeschoolers with whom you can meet locally.
Join an existing local group. Start with some large support group meetings to see if it’s a good fit for you and your children. You may find you gel with a few parents, and you can then branch off into your own weekly meetup and bring others in as you make connections. In Calgary, The Alberta Homeschooling Group on Facebook is a great site to check out everything homeschooling for beginners, facebook.com/groups/AlbertaHomeschooling/.
And during traditional school hours, go to places where homeschoolers hang out: Libraries, parks, indoor play areas, zoos, children’s museums, indoor trampoline parks. You can also google local co-ops and classes. Maybe you meet someone at the library who you think would fit into your group very well and you invite them to your next park date or book club meetup.
Unless you are a total social butterfly, heading into a group of homeschooling parents might seem a little scary. Take a deep breath and do it anyway. After all, it’s for you and for your kids, and you deserve to find that special supportive set of people.
Start your own local group. Host a book club, art show, nature hike, or field trip and invite a bunch of different people you’ve collected from using these suggested methods. People will start showing up and you’ll get to know them. Some will never come, some will come religiously, but soon enough you’ll start to figure out whom your tribe is. My experience has always been that the kids will follow your lead and, if you get a large enough group going, your kids will find at least one person they connect with.
Don’t forget, you can have more than one tribe! I put together a great tribe of unschooling friends (moms and dads) that met at a coffeehouse/gym for a long time, but then I also found a fantastic group of structured homeschooling women when my family started going to a co-op. These two groups are on different ends of the homeschooling spectrum at times, but so am I. You can have one homeschooling tribe that’s connected strictly online and one tribe that only meets for field trips.
What about disagreements and problems? It’s true that there are going to be disagreements in any group. Sometimes you need a break after a sticky situation with another parent or between the kids, and sometimes there needs to be a full-on breakup with the group. Sometimes you just change and maybe outgrow the tribe and slowly and politely make your exit with no hard feelings. People in your tribe will move away, stop homeschooling, have drama over things non-homeschool-related, etc.
Your homeschooling tribe will grow, shrink, and change. Be open to the tribe concept and I promise it will enrich the homeschooling experience for you and your kids! Keep an open mind and collect your wonderful homeschool friends wherever you can find them. Then nurture those relationships because you’re going to need support on your homeschooling journey!
Kerrie has been homeschooling her five children for over 10 years. You can find her at thekerrieshow.com.
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