Homeschool Groups: What Do You Bring to the Table?

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By Liese Carberry; Mother of four and homeschooler for 17 years- Denver
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If a bunch of people get together in a room and don't say anything what happens? {Insert crickets chirping here}. But, if a bunch of people get together and bring an experience, a gift, a thought to the table, what happens? People learn and discover new things.

When you start the homeschooling journey one of the best things you can do is join a homeschool group. But, think about this: what are you going to bring to the gathering? The group does not exist to cater only to you, what can you bring that helps out others? If you were starting to knit you might join a knitting club, so you could get the hang of it, see some older knitters work their craft; it's no different with homeschooling. When you join a group you get to see people who are steeped in homeschooling and people who are new. You get to see (if your group is inclusive) varying ways that you can teach your children and families of all ages interacting with one another.

Think about what you were before you were a homeschooler. Maybe you were a teacher, an artist, a storyteller, maybe you worked in an office and were the epitome of efficiency. You can bring those experiences to the group. Maybe the group you join has never thought about organizing a toy drive for the children's hospital and organizing is your gift. Maybe you would like to teach an art class to more than just your own kids or put together a field trip to a museum, bring it on!

What you bring to the table can benefit not only your children, but the whole homeschool group. It also works the other way round; let's say that math is not your thing but somewhere in the group is a dad who used to teach high school calculus - score! Homeschool groups should be about bringing people together who have a common goal (homeschooling) and building an environment of discovery and learning.

Do all groups succeed? No, sadly they don't. They might be too exclusive, pushing people away rather than welcoming them in. They might not have the backbone of the group branched out enough. Having one or two people in charge often leads to burnout on their part; it's hard work putting a group together and getting it to run like a well oiled machine. There are people who check out groups and find they aren't a good fit, people who stop homeschooling and leave a group, people who wish for the perfect group.

Again, think about what you bring to the table, what can you offer? Many people working together to host activities, field trips, co-ops, night outs, park days and classes build a group. Every little bit helps.

So, when you join a homeschool group don't expect perfection - there is no perfect homeschool group. There never will be. But, there are many good groups out there that are places where families can come together to celebrate learning at home. As a group we strive not for perfection, but for a place where everyone feels welcome, where all teaching and learning styles are wanted, and most of all where it's good to be different, because if everyone were the same that would be no fun at all.

Interested in my homeschool group? Check out Common Ground Homeschoolers at: http://www.commongroundhomeschoolers.com  You can also find a list of other Colorado homeschool groups here: http://www.home-school.com/groups/CO.html

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