Sunday, March 12, 2017

5 Questions to Ask when Joining a Homeschool Group

Let’s face it, choosing a homeschool group is a very personal decision, and there are many factors involved in this process. A homeschool group can be a haven of like-minded people, where you can feel supported and at ease; or it can be a group of people whose life philosophy is very different from your own, where you feel uncomfortable at best.

Homeschoolers are a very passionate group, and each group tends to feel that their way is best – which I believe to be true! Each family knows what is best for their children and makes decisions based on this knowledge; and since each child is unique, homeschooling philosophies can encompass a broad spectrum of ideas.


This article is not about which approach is best, but rather what questions to ask when evaluating a homeschool group. Regardless of your approach to homeschooling, there are questions that will apply to everyone.


1. How structured is this group?


Before deciding to participate with a homeschool group, it is important to know how structured they are. Do they plan activities on the fly? Or do they have a calendar planned months in advance, requiring RSVPs and advance payment? For a very organized person, an “on the fly” group will be nothing but frustrating; and for a more spontaneous person, a highly organized group may be frustrating when trying to comply with deadlines and due dates.


2. What ages are included?


In some homeschool groups, siblings are permitted to participate regardless of age. However, there are some groups that have age minimums for many activities, so families with several younger children may want a homeschool group that accommodates little ones. On the flip side, families with older children (teens especially) are going to want to make sure that there are activities that include older children or their teens may find nothing to interest them.


3. Does this group offer classes?


Many homeschool groups take a co-op approach, providing classroom environments for things that work better with a larger number of children, such as experiments and dissection; or journalism (think: yearbook or newspaper). Other homeschool groups simply provide a place to plan extracurricular activities such as attending plays, or park days. It is important to know upfront both what activities your family is looking for, and what they provide.


4. What is the overall discipline style of this group?


Homeschool co-ops that offer classes must address the issue of discipline, because most of the time the parents are not involved in every class their child takes. It is imperative (in fact, I would say this is the most important question to ask) to know the overall expectations with regard to discipline. For a parent who utilizes “gentle discipline”, a group that is more punitive in nature would be a bad choice. Very often, signing up with a group gives them permission to run the “classroom” how they see fit, and the parent may not know exactly how correction is being given if they are not there. This is why it is important to ask about this up front.


5. What are the membership requirements?


Some homeschool groups require yearly fees, and my require their members to attend regular member meetings in order to remain a member in good standing. Others require that members attend a certain number of activities in order to be a part of the group. Some have no requirements at all, and are simply there for members to utilize as they have the opportunity. This varies widely, so asking this question up front is also very important.


Overall, the homeschooling journey, while very fulfilling and worthwhile, can be difficult at times. The support of like-minded people is invaluable as you strive to raise and educate your precious children, and you can never ask too many questions when considering which homeschool group to join.


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