As children get past second grade, they begin desiring more and more social time with friends outside of their family. By the time kids are in junior high, homeschoolers sometimes long for the social activities and sports their peers are participating in. Some school districts have cooperative relationships with homeschoolers and allow kids to join teams, field trips, choruses, bands or even take one class during the day.
However, this type of homeschool/school relationship is rare, and sometimes the homeschoolers may feel like outsiders. It would be less confusing and more productive to create something new.
To begin, find the other homeschool families in your area. Get together to brainstorm and for all of the kids to get acquainted. You could invite everyone to a pot luck dinner in a location where kids can play in plain site of their parents. Talk about the struggles, different philosophies and curriculums the parents are ascribing to and using. What do the parents need? What do the kids want?
Try to plan a one day activity and see how it goes. Although you could brainstorm by yourself, create a plan and advertise it to other families, I think it is better to involve everyone in the formation stagIe. The first step is to create a community that supports each other non-judgmentally despite having diverse ideas and philosophies. The group can eventually focus on those things that everyone agrees on and needs, and this will evolve naturally.
Different Types of Homeschool Groups
I remember fondly the baseball games we used to play on the street in front of my house. Kids of all ages from the neighborhood would form teams and play. Sometimes the ball would end up in the weeds and we’d all search for it. Whenever a car came down the street, someone would signal and we’d all go to the side of the road. We argued and laughed together. And that’s how I learned the rules of baseball. No one created an official team and no adult supervised. We were not all the same age, so the older kids taught the younger.
So here are some possibilities you could consider:
You could simply have a once a week informal social gathering and let games and play evolve naturally.
How about creating a homeschool team, maybe a soccer team that competes with school teams?
Or suppose you have a musical group. Create a chorus or singing group, band, orchestra, etc. Invite a music teacher to help out — with the families sharing in the cost.
I knew of a local group that focused totally on geography. They did many fun activities and field trips, learned Chinese and even traveled to China!
If the parents feel that some of the academic content is getting challenging for their skill level, you could all share in the cost of a tutor or teacher to come in a few hours a week.
Think specific. Why not a science group, or more specifically geoscience or biology, etc. A math focused group?
You could simply get together for field trips only.
A craft group.
An entrepreneurial group.
As you create your local homeschool network, the dynamics of this new community may get difficult. Here is a perfect situation where the adults can grow and learn while the children look on. It could also get ugly too if you’re not careful. Just remember that the children are watching.
Think of it as a great opportunity to practice the golden rule and for your children to watch you interacting with others, being self reflective, helpful, etc. An important aspect of education!
It’s all part of the beauty of homeschooling. You’re a student too.
Did you form or join a homeschool group? Please share your thoughts and ideas!