30 Days of Homeschool – Day 18: Community

(30 free posts about free resources for homeschooling)\

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. “
–John Donne

Titus 2:3-5
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: We were made to live in community. I don’t mean that we have to be social butterflies, extroverts, party-goers, or have to join a group. I mean that we, even as a family, aren’t meant to live in isolation from other people (seclusion is not the same as isolation). You may be  introverted/introspective/contemplative,  but if you are acting as a silo or an island, then your homeschooling will probably lack something. It’s one thing to be off-grid, or keep private, or seclude yourself in the woods, all in order to minimize bad influences to your family; it’s another thing to be out-of-touch with the world, to be isolated. Since homeschooling is part of our freedom, you are certainly at liberty to school as you see fit – homeschool away! But If you find that your homeschooling gets to feeling a little lonely, or you seem to be in desperate need of help from others, then below are some free ways to ask for help; I’d go so far as to call it training instead of help.

As the Bible verse above shows, the Apostle Paul assumed 2 different kinds of women – older, experienced women; and younger, less experienced women. I’m going to expand this principle, in this post, to include homeschooling, since parenting (the principle applies to fathers, as well – they need training from older dads, too) and homeschooling are inextricably linked. The fact is this: parenting/homeschooling does NOT come naturally. There’s so much to it that one needs someone older and experienced to train new parents/homeschoolers. Never be afraid to ask for help – more likely than not, an experienced homeschooler is more than willing to help out in some way.

NOTE 1: I’m a Christian, so I speak from that viewpoint. But these articles are directed toward helping homeschoolers in general. While much of the media focuses on homeschoolers being Christian families, the reality is that many non-Christians homeschool for the liberty and the high educational quality offered.

NOTE 2: Support group, to me, sounds like someone is in trouble, but that’s not what it means. When you come across “support group,” it’s just a generic term used for lack of a better term – it doesn’t mean that homeschoolers needs fixed.

Religious Affiliation:
Ask people at your church or whatever your religious affiliation is (I’m not a religion expert, so I won’t attempt to name them all) for help. Someone there will be happy to help and answer questions. I’d suggest that you have them over, or take them out for, lunch or something. As people have asked me in passing, “What tips do you have?”, I’m always at a loss for some quick tip, because it sounds so trite in passing. So ask them, “Would you have time this week or next to sit down with me? I have some/lots of questions and I’d like your help.” We’re so inundated, as a society, with the concept that tips and tricks  and time management are the way to go, that we think that a tip offered on the fly will help; but in the end those quick-tips, without any real grounding, are quickly forgotten and not understood without context.

HSLDA’s page – http://hslda.org/orgs/Default.aspx – has a list and also search options for finding a homeschool support group. Just find one and drop in. Once people find out that you homeschool, you’ll probably get all kinds of offers to join their co-op. It takes boldness to be willing to attend something and be ready to say, “It’s not for me.” But in the process you’ll probably find a contact, or even a friend, for the future. The disclaimer at the bottom of their page bears inclusion here: “HSLDA provides this listing as a courtesy to our website readers. Inclusion of a group does not constitute HSLDA endorsement of the group; parents are encouraged to research the philosophy and practices of any group considered.”

Meet Up:
You may be able to find something here: http://homeschool.meetup.com/. I’ve never been to a meetup, but maybe you’re up for checking one out. It’s an option that seems to have worked well in other arenas. Like we teach our kids: it’s not real freedom unless you know all of the options.

Public School:
Surprisingly, you may be able to find other like-minded souls at public school. I know that many schools are supportive, or at least benign, towards homeschooling. So you may find someone to connect with their. You should be aware of what you may have to sign. Like HSLDA, I’m not going to fight for any homeschooler to have the rights to access to public school facilities – I just want homeschooling to remain part of our liberty. So proceed with caution. In the news at times you’ll find that a school board member who was voted actually homeschools his/her kids, so there are allies in public schools.

Sometimes you just need to sit down and talk with your family. This can provide 2 important points of connection: 1. Share ideas and stories with those closest to you, so that you can realize that you’re far from alone; and, 2. Encourage those who are skeptical with all that you really do. Although homeschool is perfectly legal in all states, there can still be pressure on you to conform. So getting to talk to your loved ones who are skeptical can encourage both you and them, as you get to actually speak out loud what you do, and so that they can see that, though you are non-conformist and non-traditional, your kids are really doing quite well, if not surpassing.

“Tribes” is an expanding concept. Think about a physical tribe – a people group, with a common bond, living together to survive and thrive. Virtual communities can be the same way, but you’re connecting across the internet to accomplish your goals. The second m-w.com definition fits it well – “a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.”  If you’re following a blog with lots of subscribers, or looking at joining an online group that has all kinds of people, all across the nation or globe, that have the common link of homeschool, then that’s a tribe. The other ways that I’ve mentioned about connecting are based on physical/in-person contact, but you may find that, because of your locale, situation, or interests, virtual works well, or even best, for you.

Home Educators Associations:
In Indiana, we have the IAHE, and you probably have one in your state, if not also in your city. This is a great place to get connected with someone else. They have conventions, but those usually aren’t free. But if you know someone who has a booth at the convention, or know one of the speakers, then  you may be able to obtain free tickets.

Happy Homeschooling!