In the last few weeks, my local homeschool group has had an influx of new inquiries and members. It’s not surprising. Major publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have been talking about how homeschooling is going mainstream for a while now. Statistics are hard to come by, but experts estimate that well over 2 million students are homeschooled in America and the number is growing by up to 15 percent each year.
Homeschoolers support one another
One thing most homeschoolers need is a network of support. More than perhaps anything else, the people who support you as you learn how to best teach your kids at home give you strength. You need this strength to keep going when things get challenging.
I like to say that homeschooling is almost like a sorority. When I first started, I met a woman who had been homeschooling a little longer than me. She became my Big Sis, my mentor, and eventually one of my best friends. After I’d been homeschooling a while, I met another woman who was brand new. She became my Little Sis, and my other friend and I mentored her together. She’s now one of my best friends, too, and I have a feeling she’ll be mentoring a newbie of her own before long.
Why is support important
Something I’ve learned over the past few years is that I am a lucky homeschooler. I say that because my parents and most of the rest of my extended family have been very supportive of my choices. I haven’t had to deal with many people questioning why I chose homeschooling, how my kids will possibly be socialized, how I can presume to teach without a teaching certification, etc. Many of the people I know are not so lucky. The family and friends they have turned to over the years for support are not available to them now that they are homeschooling.
That is why a network of support is so important. Homeschooling can be a great option for your family, and can be wonderful for your kids, both academically and socially. But there will be difficult times in your homeschooling journey. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
When you face challenges choosing a curriculum that works for your child, or getting your child excited about a new subject, your friends can help. When you go through the loss of a job or a health problem and homeschooling is tough for a while, your friends can support you. When your family second guesses every decision you have made for your kids, no matter how well adjusted and bright they might be, you can turn to your friends.
Who needs support?
In my opinion, almost every homeschooler needs support, whether it is just one other person or a large local or online group. Those who need it the most, though, are parents who are just beginning, because they need help wading through all the options available for homeschoolers. Also those who are going through a transition, such as from elementary school to middle school, may need extra support as the learn new ways of teaching their growing kids.
Those who have left the public school system also need a lot of support. Parents whose kids were in public school often have a lot of adjusting to do to find their comfort zones as home educators. Former public school teachers, especially, need lots of support because their old friends from work may hold animosity toward them for leaving.
More by Tavia:
How to start a homeschool group
School Supply Tips for Homeschoolers
Back to School: Options for Gifted Children