Do you fit in with your local homeschool group? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 02:26 PM
 
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Build it and they will come!

In February we started an inclusive, free, secular homeschooling group and we have over 200 members already.

Let the LLL folks know and the word will spread. http://www.llli.org/webindex.html

Also see if there is an Attachment Parenting International or Holistic Moms Group in your area. http://www.attachmentparenting.com/
http://www.holisticmoms.org/

Or start one. We have a bunch of HMN mamas just starting a new group. And it is growing.

Another possibility is to start a "Gentle Parenting" support group. Post about it at the groceries, etc.

Also see if there is a "Mommies" Network. They have them all over now. They are local on-line support for mamas. http://www.themommiesnetwork.org/ Check in Finding Your Tribe also for your area and ask to get together with other like-minded mamas.

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#3 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 02:30 PM
 
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I got really lucky. I joined a homeschool group when my oldest was just turning school age. There was about 7 of us that kind of broke off and started to hang out more. We are all very different in our spiritual beliefs but it works. We are all MDC types. Three of us homebirth and I think all don't vax. we are all into natural healing and that kind of thing. I have joked that we are kind of the freaks of the freaks. "if you thought homeschoolers were weird then you should meet *us*" :

Like I said, I just got really lucky.

The kids happen to be of similar age too. We do have one 10 year old that is the oldest but there is a few 8 year olds, a few 6 year olds and so on down to the new baby plus one in utero.

I think that even those of the group that are religious do not have religion as a main reason to homeschool. Perhaps that is why we all get along so well.

We have a few Atheists, a Christan, a Mormon, a Majic love'en Christen etc.

Hi to those ladies that are MDC and are a part of that great homeschool group. :
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#4 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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I lucked out w/ my local HS group. There aren't too many crunchy moms(or dads) on LI in general, but it seems like all the members of this group are either crunchy themselves or very open to crunchiness.

In your situation, I'd probably get involved with both groups- still see your friends, but not make the huge drive every time DD has some social time.

Ruth, single mommy to 3 quasi-adults
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#5 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 03:03 PM
 
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I'm sort of in the same situation. The group that is 10 min from us is quite religious, although they have families who are not. I've heard thru the grapevine, that they start all their functions with a prayer & I'm just not OK with that. So we do drive 45 min. to 1 hr to be with the group that we mesh with ---it just works better. I personally don't want to listen to the benefits of CIO or spanking or non GD types of discipline & if that means I have to drive a further distance I do. I don't like it but once I'm there (at a function or meeting) I'm always glad I made the trek.

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#6 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 03:10 PM
 
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We, too, drive 45 minutes each week to attend a secular homeschool co-op. All of the groups in this area (that I've found) are Christian-based, seem to be less tolerant, and some require the parents to sign a statement of faith. I have toyed with the idea of starting some sort of secular group in our town- there are two other relaxed HSing families that I know in our town.

For now, I'm content to drive, but I'll probably continue to explore other options...

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
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#7 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 03:43 PM
 
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I got lucky as well. For such a small area, our group activities are usually no more than 30 minutes away, often closer. And, again while small, our group is diverse enough that I have met several families that we really click with and everyone has a general respect for each other.

There are some very religious families and some very secular, liberal families, as well as families that fall in between. It's a live and let live philosophy.
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#8 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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I understand.

There is a really cool group that I know of but its too far for me to drive to.
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#9 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 04:05 PM
 
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We have acess to a very large, very diverse group. There are school- at -homers, and there are absolute RUers. I like it. We participate on an 'as needed' basis. Everyone is very respectful of each other, which is very nice. The person in charge of the yahoo list is thoughtful, kind and open, so that sets the tone for people to feel comfortable.
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#10 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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The big local group here is Christian and has a statement of faith to sign. So, that group won't work for my family. But a friend invited me to an unschooling group last month and I think that will work just great. I won't fit in with EVERYONE, but I think I could find a place for myself there.

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#11 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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No, we dont fit in with our group.....then again maybe I just didnt give it enough time or effort. I'd love a "crunchy" hs group around here! I'm one of only 3 moms I know that cloth diapers, baby wears etc...and those 2 mama's dont homeschool. This just isnt a crunchy area I guess.
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#12 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 04:35 PM
 
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Not really. I haven't even contacted them because I know we won't fit. The only group in my town is a very conservative christian group, very Bible focused learning. We just aren't that. So I know we would be very uncomfortable in a group like that.

There are other groups around, but all would be quite a drive for me, I am not sure I am willing to commit to that just yet.

My dd does dance and will be starting Girl Scouts (with charter school kids- I really wish there was a homeschool troop)- plus neighborhood friends for this year, so I think we are okay on the social stuff right now.

C- mama to K (8) and A (5.5) (8w5d) 10/08, new baby O-2.11.10
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#13 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 07:49 PM
 
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I have not even tried to contact any of the local HS groups, b/c I already know we would not fit in. All the HS groups here are super christian groups, you have to profess your faith to join. A friend of mine from UU church and I are the only secular HSers that we know of. Next yr we are going to try to start up a secular, inclusive group of our own and we'll see if all the secular HSers come out of the woodwork.
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#14 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 07:59 PM
 
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Sometimes it's hard to find folks that are already there, but check in with LLL and other sorts of groups. Several people in my area have said they thought there were no USers or cloth diaper -users etc etc. But there are tons of us. Sometimes it does take some digging. (And this is not for those who've dug and dug, of course!)

You could leave notes places-- the libraries, the health food store, any place that might offer yoga or belly dancing, famer's markets, look around for CSA places or food coops etc. I have to not giggle when people tell me "You are the only crunchy person around here!" Then I get to tell them where you can find ECers, RUs, relaxed hsers, EBFers etc. I was in a group with my last, where no child weaned before age 3, and most of the kids nursed past 6 and more. There were quite a few of us! So don't give up hope, and don't put your house on the market quite yet.
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#15 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Astromom View Post
But maybe these groups' organizers just didn't get the word out well enough. My DH has mentioned several times that I should start a group.. but it seems so very intimidating!! I would love some more advice on starting up a successful homeschool group...
"Advertising" your group can be a politically sensitive issue within the homeschooling community, I have found. Some folks consider another homeschooling group "competition". Competition for what, I don't know. A friend explained it like this. "Some folks see ONE pie, and with more groups, the smaller their piece of pie. Some folks see more groups and think 'Wow! More pie!'.

Making a secular, inclusive group in a religious area, could get you ostracized, some families have experienced. Unfortunately, there is divisiveness in some homeschooling communities.

Logistically, I just created a calendar of outings for the whole year, and invited everyone to join us. So, I posted the schedule to many groups, and it was passed on and passed on and folks want someone to "organize" "field trips". So, if you can make out a schedule of fun places to go in your surrounding area, and post it around. Folks jump on that!

We also started having playdates at our house regularly. Again, open and inclusive. Some self-select out, due to different parenting, more structured schedules, and religious ipriorities. Also, we posted a weekly "Park Day" and welcomed everyone to join us. Mostly, I find that folks new to homeschooling don't have the baggage and "allegiances" and just want to make friends. So, win-win.

Now we have organized space for weekly gatherings for "Fun Clubs" at the library: drama, jewelry making, Legos, movie making, knitting, telescopes and the night sky, etc. And again invited everyone to join us. And the group has just exploded.

Let me know if you need more info on activities and outings, or logistics of starting "Fun Clubs".

Everyone is pitching in because they want to see it manifest! (except for a few who don't want a FREE ($$) group which is inclusive of all folks.)

Oh, and contact the owners of the "defunct" groups. They can really help you to connect folks of like-mind! Join together to create what you desire.

HTH, Pat

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#16 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 08:10 PM
 
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No, we dont fit in with our group.....then again maybe I just didnt give it enough time or effort. I'd love a "crunchy" hs group around here! I'm one of only 3 moms I know that cloth diapers, baby wears etc...and those 2 mama's dont homeschool. This just isnt a crunchy area I guess.
I live in MA, which is a very progressive state, so I think it' may be different here. But there are Muslims, Jews, Pagans, and UUs in our group and we all get along. We get to talk with other folks and our kids benefit from the mix. You might also be surprised who breastfeeds and babywears. I once made a horribe, embarrassing asssumption to someone I thought was a heathen RU (lol) -- simply from what I'd seen of her in our group. She was totally relaxed, her kids were always running around in tye dye, asking cute questions, she was always bfing & slinging, never yelling rules, the whole deal, and I said something about if she let her kids run around naked like that she would go to hell. She cried/laughed' Oh, don't sat that! I try so hard to walk with the Lord" and she totally meant it. I felt like an ass.
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#17 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 10:10 PM
 
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I'm just now starting a group, There are several groups that exist near us, and we can participate as much as we want. But I really want to share ny children & my days with 'crunchy' families. So I've started a group with a small nucleus of families from our local AP group. We'll build from there.

I'm not looking to create a huge group -- but rather a tribe for mamas & children alike...

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#18 of 35 Old 08-31-2007, 10:44 PM
 
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Build it and they will come!
YES! Our experience is almost identical. I spent the first year or two trying to find secular homeschoolers and it was hard. Finally a couple of us just started a group and wow were there are a lot of people out there who wanted a group and didn't think there were other folks looking for the same thing. I really encourage you take the lead. It isn't hard and you may be surprised how far it goes.

A couple of things we found that really helped:

1. Starting a yahoogroup so there was a central place for new people to find the group. List it on the Home Education site, about.com, with the public library, etc. When you set up the yahoogroup think carefully about your description words so it comes up in a search - you may want to include words like secular, waldorf, unschooling, attachment parenting, etc. You can have a long list of types of homeschooling and note that everyone is welcome.

2. Avoid any sort of hierarchy. What I've observed happens so often in homeschool groups is that a few people get really involved in putting together everything, then folks fight because the activity wasn't what they wanted and get resentful and groups fizzle out. If you can avoid that from the beginning it works much better.

I found an article which I can't seem to pull up any more about the idea of a "nondirected support" model. In this approach. everyone is invited to individually organize activities as they wish and advertise them as they wish. So, if Mary's kids want to go on a hike she's welcome to talk to the park naturalist, set up a day, time and price and open it up to anyone who wants to participate. If that is appealing folks can join Mary. If not, they can set up something else that works better for their kids. The point is that it doesn't require consensus to set up activities and it avoids a lot of the disagreement that can happen when powerful people get together and try to organize anything.

Also I agree with the suggestion to start with some open events (picnics, park days, potlucks, etc.) to invite folks to meet each other it will take off from there.
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#19 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 03:35 PM
 
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Did you create a yahoo group or something similar for your Fun Clubs?
Yes, we created a yahoogroup for the group outings, after trying to keep up with all the email communications with "reply all". The yahoogroup is much easier than I thought it would be. Also, yahoogroup has database and poll options, which were very helpful to coordinate a lot of data and information about folks club interests and areas of town. It has a calendar and can generate reminders to the group automatically also.


Is there a closed-off room at your library for this sort of thing?
Yes, they each have a "meeting room". The libraries seem to be receptive to the homeschooling groups. And other space could be found individually also, churches, homes, EarthFare, etc. We even considered off-hours at some retail businesses such as dance studios, as possible meeting locations. The parks and rec centers are another possibility. Their pricing seems variable, dependent upon location and availability.

There are many possibilities!

How do you provide the materials? I know you said people pitch in, but do you find that you actually need to provide most things? Do you ask people to sign up to bring things, just hope that they bring things, or get the stuff yourself?
We've gone in together to purchase supplies in bulk, to share. And we ask folks to bring specific items along also.

Do you have a group set of things like Legos, or does everyone bring their own?
O
ne of the ladies has the mother load of Legos. She just puts them out for everyone to share. And others bring theirs and keep them separate on a table or in corners of the room. Everyone just uses the stuff and then leaves the creations. I believe they'll take photos of their creations. I hope they'll post them on-line the group also.

Does one of your members have a telescope that they are willing to set up & share?
We haven't had anyone step up for facilitating this yet. But, we're probably going to have someone from the local astronomy club come to do a presentation. And then meet up during the Geminids meteor shower around early December. http://www.namnmeteors.org/2007calendar.html And see how it grows.

How do you do the movie making one? (My DH is a director, but he wouldn’t be able to let the kiddos take his expensive camera around practicing, yk?)
Oh, the teens know about this technology stuff. (I don't.) They are self-creating a movie with several digital video cameras. They have some script/ideas/documentary?? I guess they just splice and delete digitally. This is very self-governed. They are learning from each other.

For things like drama, do you ask one person to sort of take the lead?
Yes, we ask for parent volunteers. There are several facilitators for drama. And parents are expected to remain on the library premises. It is geared toward teens and tweens; but there are some motivated younger children participating too. They are working on skits, improvisation, memorization, etc. this fall. And creating a script around the participants and planning a production for the spring.
Can you tell I'm going to get lost in the details?

A million questions, but the baby just woke up. Thank you all, I'm excited to try this!!

I'd second Roar's suggestion that folks be "invited to individually organize activities as they wish and advertise them as they wish." And plan activities that work for your family and invite folks to come along. After the group grows, consider taking on the Fun Club facilitation. The Clubs really are not geared toward my son's age, mostly. But, the teens and tweens were wanting to gather, so we just created the template for them to connect and build what they wanted.

Don't take on all the work, invite everyone to share in the creation. Then there is More pie~


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#20 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 05:29 PM
 
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No, we really don't fit in. I tried and tried to make it work, but it took for me to open my eyes. The only commonality we have, is our faith. But even that is a stretch, as my DH doesn't share my faith-and one lady told me she would continue to pray for him! Well...thanks...but how rude!!!!

Anyway, another huge difference is that we HSed before I had my faith. For the rest of the group-with the exception of one other family-the reason for HSing was because of our faith-and them wanting to shelter their DC from who knows what. I mean, I am not mainstream in any way-but you won't find me moving out to an acreage just so my DC won't be exposed to X,Y,Z. We want our DC to have a diverse group of friends. Period.

On a positive note , from joining this group, I met some really nice families(who either practice AP,close to it, or are just pretty crunchy) who have become my and my DCs friends. But involvement in the whole group isn't gonna happen anymore.

As for having playdates with people who spank their DC? Not for me. I unknowingly left my DS with a nice lady from our HS group while I went to a doc appt. and when I picked my DS up, he told me that the mom spanked her DS in front of mine! My DS was so confused, and said how sad he was for his little friend. And, she used a paddle.

There is a bigger HS group here, and they do offer much more in terms of activities-there may come a time when we join this group for the benefit of daytime activities and classes.

I too plan on driving about an hour away-but just once a month- to a HS group that shares our faith, yet has way more diversity and activities in it. and I would get to spend time with my sis who also HS.

Sorry I didn't read all of the responses, but it sounds like you are getting some great ideas!

Sorry for the ramble.....

Good Luck!

mp
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#21 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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PP mama, where in the SW desert are you? I'm near Palm Springs, CA.

I'm not even a mama yet, but when we do have kids we will homeschool and I am pretty sure the only HS groups around here are super conservative Christian.

I actually am a Christian. But I am also a pacifist, an anarchist, and will be quite into AP (especially no spanking...which all the Christians I know spank). Definitely nothing like the other Christian groups here.

So I'm pretty sure I will be starting my own group open to all when the time comes...because I just don't fit in anywhere now.

Happily married to DH for 6 years, in process to foster-adopt 3 children DD4, DS3 and DS2. We may be bringing half brother age 9 one day as well! We are not infertile, we just have decided that since there are precious children who need homes there is no need for us to have biological children.

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#22 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 07:42 PM
 
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I'm completely shocked at how much there is to choose from. And a lot of these places have special things for homeschoolers. I am so surprised that there hasn't been a successful hs group over here!!
I was surprised how much there was to do when I started researching also. I found many lists from the local organizations and newspapers about 'things to do' in the area. Check the Chamber of Commerce for the largest city nearby for events/festivals/museums also. Our outings are all within an hour or so of me. Some are worth the drive, like the zoo. We go once a year that way. Some are just the area parks, which we rotate around the area, so that the outing is close to everyone eventually. I only plan about one big outing a month, and smaller ones each week. Plan outdoor activities in relation to the weather in your area. That has been tricky with our hot summer this year. The winter was warm and summer a scorcher. So, turn out is down if it is above 90-100 degrees.

If you pick a weekly time that works for you, that makes it easier for people to remember, plan around and join in. Our outings are Tuesday at noon. That really makes it easy to have time to drive a distance, but it is too hot by noon here in the south for outdoor stuff. So, I'll probably tweek that next year.

I made a master schedule for the whole year and posted it around. I have made a few updates, when things were too complicated like some of the tours.


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I'm wondering though about the best way to go about some of these events. Some places let you schedule your group, and cost is different depending on size... but I currently have no idea how many people I would get to come. But other places have set events. For example, there is a local museum that is going to have a Family Fun Day on a Saturday in October. Another example is the puppet theater - they have shows during the week that are open to the public. So those types of things aren't homeschool group specific... but maybe that type of event is the best thing for me to advertise at this point? And what if they are a bust? I'd be a bit mortified to organize some outing that was not fun. But I guess everything is a learning experience...
Tours, especially group discounts, are a pain for the organizer, for the reasons you listed. Someone posted a fabulous deal on a museum membership which allows reciprocity to about a hundred museums AND zoos/aquariums in the region. So, mostly, we just get in free~!

Ask around about that. The key for reciprocity seems to be to buy a membership that is NOT local, and then your local stuff is considered under the umbrella of the other membership. Do you follow? We have our main membership in the mountains of NC, but live in the Piedmont. So, our local museums mostly have reciprocity. You have to find a big membership that covers a lot of territory. But, it is much easier to do that than to figure out how many are coming and have folks pay up front, which many events require! I wasn't willing to foot the bill. So, I just plan what we are going to do and tell folks the individual rate. For a few things, we have gotten a discount and counted folks. It is challenging though. And folks DO like "educational" outings. My goal is just for fun outings, for ds who is only 6. Certainly welcome folks to plan all the stuff they want to organize also.

Quote:
I'm absolutely definitely going to want people to contribute their own ideas and organize things. I need to get some people first though. And I'm still trying to figure out the wording to describe the group. And a name for it. And so on. I'm having fun though. If nothing else, I found lots of fun (I hope) things for us to go do.
I worked out the schedule details and then asked several friends to help me "host" the outings, so that I wouldn't feel pressure to be there every time, if it didn't work for us that day. That really does help! They don't have to "do anything" but show up and greet folks. We also used smiley stickers to designate who all was in the group, so that new folks could walk up and say 'Hi'.

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If you would be willing, I'd love for you to pm me the name of your yahoo group so that I could learn more from your example.
The group is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ExploreAndDiscover/ You're welcome to look at the set up and activities. Copy all you want. That just makes More pie~!


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#23 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 07:45 PM
 
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Here's another question -- for those of you who have started a group, are thinking of starting one, or who just would like to throw in their two cents: I'm pretty shy. I'd be happy spending my days inside reading a book. I'm doing all this event research and group-making planning entirely for the benefit of my DD who is a little social butterfly. Can someone who isn't the most outgoing person in the world really start a group and make it work??
Just wear a smiley sticker and everyone will say hi. Have more stickers to share and your daughter can help pass them out to folks. She can be your greeting committee.

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#24 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 09:09 PM
 
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If you are trying to meet people my advice would be to start small. Pick a day of the week for a single activity - playgroup Tuesday, one o'clock, Johnson park. And, stick with it for a couple of months. There may be weeks where you are the only one who shows up but bit by bit it'll pick up. Advertise it through LLL, your natural foods store, the library, parenting magazine, the Unitarian church or whatever places you might find like minded people. We also had a quite a bit of success with moms' night out kind of things. It could be one night a month meeting at a coffee shop or a library just to talk about homeschooling. Events without the kids seem to promote faster deeper discussion and lead to more activities.

You can set up a yahoogroup in five minutes. Seriously, it is so easy. Set it up, print out your name, email and the group name and post it around a few places. Ask folks who come to park day to join you. Once you can get people all reading the same list it'll quickly take off from there.

The other thing I'd suggest is to pick a little activity your kid would like to do and do the work to put it together and invite other families to join you. It could be as few as a couple of other families who all want to learn sign language or to play the recorder, etc. We started with little things like this and soon people were asking me if they could join in and if we were full up I could suggest it is simple to give it a go themselves. From there it may evolve into a more organized co-op day at a library or something or maybe it will just stay small with families organizing study groups but in some way it will come together. The key is that everyone understands they can be involved.

If you do end up with plenty of families and you'd like to do a co-op I bet you'll find a lot of talent in the member families. I am always struck in the homeschooling world how many really bright and talented folks there are. Also, if you are in a college town you may want to try to hire a college student. We had success calling the theater or art department and asking if they could recommend a student. Students work cheap and are often glad for the experience.

Good luck!
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#25 of 35 Old 09-03-2007, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Roar, thank you, thank you! These are great suggestions. I am going to have to keep myself in check to make sure I don't go crazy over-scheduling things.

I am really grateful to you mamas who have started groups & are passing on your wisdom!!
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#26 of 35 Old 09-04-2007, 12:32 PM
 
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I've been a part of some nice homeschool groups since my oldest was 5. They died out eventually and we spent about 1.5yrs as very lonely homeschoolers.

So I started my own group a year ago through Meetup.com
http://homeschool.meetup.com/532/about/

I started out very slow and laid back. I wasn't sure if it would take off or if I'd be able to get it to work. The only thing on our calendar were bi-monthly park days. I wanted the group to grow and evolve with the people who joined, so I had very little structure other than asking people to be involved. We slowly started adding member-planned field trips and more park days as people wanted to get together more. It has grown from there!

Someone else mentioned personality types, and I'm a card carrying introvert! I can chat online and write tons of emails, but getting together with groups of people can be overwhelming to me. In the beginning I worked very hard to simply greet everyone and help them feel welcomed. My group did the rest! I've since recruited some assistant organizers who share these tasks with me, so it has gotten easier.

Best of luck in getting your group started, it will definately be worthwhile!
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#27 of 35 Old 09-04-2007, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Fieryfly, that's a great set-up & I like the way you have field trip ideas to help people who might be intimidated by the thought of organizing an event.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fieryfly View Post
Someone else mentioned personality types, and I'm a card carrying introvert! I can chat online and write tons of emails, but getting together with groups of people can be overwhelming to me. In the beginning I worked very hard to simply greet everyone and help them feel welcomed. My group did the rest! I've since recruited some assistant organizers who share these tasks with me, so it has gotten easier.
Thank you, that gives me hope!
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#28 of 35 Old 09-04-2007, 06:33 PM
 
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We don't fit at all. I joined for two years, trying to make do but we haven't been back in a couple years now. The group is very conservative Christian and we just do not fit in.

I wish I had the time and energy to start an inclusive group but I just don't.

mama to the Girls (15, 14, 13) and the Littles (5, 3) 
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#29 of 35 Old 11-07-2007, 07:03 PM
 
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Bumping.


Pat

I have a blog.
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#30 of 35 Old 11-08-2007, 04:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromom View Post
Wouldn’t do me any good anyway, there are 7000 houses for sale around here and 3 buyers.



You all have really inspired me! I’m going to see what I can do! I’m going to start by researching some events, I’m going to check in with LLL, and I’m going to try to set up a weekly playdate for anyone interested at my local park.
Where do you live? Sounds like it might be around me.

Susan~Mama to Atticus (2003), Creeley (2005), Townsyn (2007) and a fourth boy on the way in 2011!
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