Seven tips for making homeschool connections

New homeschoolers, or those newly transplanted, can sometimes find it difficult to meet others. However, a few simple ideas may help you get started:

1) Homeschoolers are a very diverse lot, so you will likely meet a wide variety of people. Give yourself time to find and build relationships with the families that are compatible with yours.

2) State, regional and local discussion lists are very helpful for learning about your local homeschool support and activity groups, as well as for “meeting” the many homeschoolers not affiliated with any group.

3) Park days can help you become more familiar with your local homeschooling community. If there isn’t an established park day in your area, initiate one; it takes little time or energy. Simply pick a date, time and location and invite members of a homeschool group or discussion list. Keep it casual, and meet at a park with a playground or other activity area for children-and preferably, with a picnic pavilion nearby. This seems to work particularly well, because a park is neutral territory, and parents and children have a chance to ease into friendships.

4) If your local group is particularly large, or if you simply wish to, invite just a few prospective friends-those to whom you feel some connection-to a “private” park day or event.

5) Field trips can be places to make connections, but often they are best only for superficial introductions, because the focus is on the event or location at hand, and side discussions may interfere with others’ enjoyment of the tour or activity. However, some field trips lend themselves more to discussions, especially if a picnic lunch is included in the schedule. Again, you can easily initiate your own event, open to all, or to a few.

6) One-time activities with 1 or 2 other families can provide a setting that allows you to become more familiar with potential new friends, without committing before you feel ready. Hold a craft day, go apple picking, play softball, have a picnic or go bike riding together.

7) Once you feel connected to a few people, start a regular get-together, or meet with each family on an individual basis. Expect that you may have to work at maintaining connections, but remember that the payoff-good, long-term homeschool friends-will be worth the effort.

You may also like, “Confessions of a homeschool exclusionist,” “Shay’s favorite books on healthy boundaries,” and “Shay’s rules for operating within the homeschool community.”

© 2002, 2005, 2010 Shay Seaborne. All rights reserved. Originally published in the newsletter of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers

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