We are on day four of our 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials blog hop and today I am going to talk about one of our essentials for fun: homeschool groups! We belong to one local group and one co-op. When I first started homeschooling, I felt rather isolated, so I looked for groups we could join up with. There are actually quite a few in my area, ranging from academic groups to groups just for fun. I was searching for a less-structured group to join and I was happy to find two just like that.
Our first group meets at a local church on Monday afternoons for eight weeks in the fall and eight weeks in the spring. They offer a variety of classes taught by local experts as well as parents from the group. My kids have taken classes in science, photography, world cultures and other topics with this group. It is not exactly a traditional co-op as parents don’t have to teach classes, but you do have to volunteer in your kids class as a helper at least once a semester. We also take a lot of field trips together. Last year we went to Legoland, which was probably my youngest son’s favorite field trip ever!
We’ve also gone ice skating, visited a chocolate factory, had beach days and done a lot of other things. Once a year, we do SAT 10 testing with this group as well.
Our second group is a co-op that meets every Thursday. In this case, the moms meet at the beginning of the year and plan out each week with parents volunteering to teach. This is our first year with this group and it is so much fun! We have learned CPR, visited the shooting range, gone to local parks, and had water play days together. This group also has a lending library where people donate old curriculum for others to check out! This was a huge blessing to our family this year.
My kids have made some really good friends in our groups and so have I.
Why are these groups so essential to our homeschool? Number one, its nice to get together with other homeschoolers on a regular basis. Because we are a large group, we get access to numerous activities at a discounted price that would cost a lot more if we went by ourselves. Also, I have found many parents in these groups with talents in areas I don’t have, and I am thankful that they are willing to use these talents to enrich my kids education.
Joining these groups has also given me a lot of connections. It is nice to have other homeschool moms I can talk to in real life about the challenges we face every day. On a practical note, I had a few friends loan me curriculum for this year that allowed me to teach my boys in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.
I do enjoy the fact that these groups are not terribly rigid. The classes my boys take are extras, not core academics. And the field trips are pick and choose as you go. If we need a week off or something comes up, we just stay home (unless I have to actually lead or help that week). I didn’t want to join a group that we were tied to week after week, because to me, that limits the freedom of homeschooling. While I do have other more academically-oriented groups in my area, I chose these specific groups because they met our needs and fit with out lifestyle. I think that is probably the most important thing when deciding whether or not to join a group and choosing which one to join. You have to find the one that is the right fit for you!
So, do you belong to any groups? What are some of the activities your group participates in? Let me know in the comments. Join me tomorrow for the last day of our blog hop when I discuss an important essential attitude! Check out what the rest of the crew shared today here:
Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace