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5 Essential Tips for Plugging into a Homeschool Group or Co-op
Once you have made the exciting decision to join a homeschool group or co-op, there is another element to the process. Plugging in. Plugging in is the most overlooked and often overwhelming part of joining a homeschool group or co-op. For all different reasons, many of us dread this part. However, when equipped with the right tips, you can ease into any homeschool community comfortably.
Why do we dread this part of the community building process?
In the past, have you ever had a negative experience when trying to socialize in a homeschool community? This can affect the way we approach and interact in the future, too. And it is entirely understandable and natural. But let’s face it, community is an essential component to homeschooling. For you and your children.
At Homeschool Mastery Academy we believe in homeschool community, and we want to help you with the process of plugging into the community that is right for your family.
Here are some tips from our Homeschool Community Mentors to help you make the most of your homeschool community experience.
1. Be realistic about your expectations. Don’t fantasize about showing up to your first event with your new group and leaving with a new best friend forever for each of your children. Building relationships take time, for adults and children. If we expect to show up and automatically connect with everyone we will always leave feeling disappointment. The reality is that you may feel a bit awkward during the first visit, and it may take a few times to begin to cultivate solid connections. Don’t give up after the first try, keep plugging in.
2. You get back what you put in. If you attend an event with your homeschool group and seem completely closed off to conversation or keep your arms crossed the entire time, you might be giving off an unfriendly vibe. No, you don’t have to be an open book or chatty Kathy to meet others, but it certainly will get you much further if you try to make conversation and interact with them. Because ultimately that is why you are there, to make connections.
3. Prepare your children. By talking to your children beforehand about having realistic expectations and getting out what you put in to a group, you can avoid a lot of potential issues. In an age appropriate way, you can use the above tips as a guide to prepare your kids before they visit or join a homeschool group or co-op. Kids love to know what to expect, and by preparing them in advance you can minimize anxiety and disappointments.
4. Take your time. Don’t rush the process of finding the right fit for your family, but instead ease into the group in your own time. Time allows the right connections to form, and friendships to build over the course of multiple interactions. Not everyone becomes fast friends immediately. Get to know people and allow your children to do the same.
5. Volunteer. Offering your time or service to the group or co-op is an excellent way to bond with other volunteers, leaders, and their families. This is also a wonderful way to model to your children that it takes each one of us contributing to create community.
6. Start your own. If there isn’t a homeschool group or co-op available near you or you just can’t seem to find the right fit in your local community, start your own. You might have an excellent idea for a group or maybe your local area needs more homeschool group and co-op options. We have a starter kit to help you get going, and a group with resources to assist you in the process.
We hope you find these tips helpful for plugging into your local homeschool group or co-op. Finding the right fit can be a challenge, but the benefits of community are far more rewarding.