As you begin your homeschooling journey, you should become familiar with your local, state, and regional homeschooling groups and co-ops. These are typically grassroots groups created and organized by fellow home educators in your area.
Because these groups are organized by parents, you can expect them to reflect the variety and diversity of the homeschooling world:
“Homeschool support group” is the term used for a group of homeschooling parents that has come together (in person or via social media) to provide members with some form of support. This support may be primarily emotional, including opportunities to ask for advice about specific homeschooling methods or problems; or it might be more concrete, such as maintaining a curriculum resource center or running a field trip group or co-op.
“Homeschool co-op” is the term for a program that brings homeschooled children together to receive education in specific subjects or areas. Homeschool co-ops may meet once a week, once every other week, or monthly, but rarely meet every day. Some homeschool co-ops engage parents as instructors, while others hire teachers or other professionals. One example might be an arts co-op where students meet one morning each week to take band, orchestra, art, or sign language. In most cases, homeschool co-ops are organized and run by homeschool support groups (see above).
“Homeschool convention” is the term for an event held in a convention center or other large venue that brings together curriculum vendors, workshops on various topics, and keynote speakers. In some cases, these conventions may be put on by state or local homeschool groups; in other cases, they may be organized by for-profit companies. Homeschool conventions offer home educators the opportunity to browse curriculum and learn from other homeschooling parents or professionals.
“Homeschool umbrella school” is a term for a private school that enrolls students who are educated at home. In some cases, homeschooling groups may found and maintain umbrella schools. While legally considered private schools, these programs do not always have a physical campus, and parents of enrolled students typically choose and implement their own curriculum in their own homes. These programs offer parents a way to meet state legal requirements, as well as access to community and enrichments such as field trip groups. For more, see our page on umbrella schools.
Homeschooling groups offer many advantages, including:
Our research suggests that children who participate in homeschooling groups while being homeschooled have better outcomes as adults, and report fewer feelings of social isolation or loneliness as children. We highly recommend that you participate in homeschooling groups as much as you are able.
CRHE is founded and run by homeschool alumni and is fundamentally child-centered in its orientation. Some homeschooling groups engage in practices that we believe are harmful to children, such as political lobbying against children’s rights, or holding discriminatory or “childist” views about children (for more on this, see our page on becoming an advocate for children. In addition to the benefits offered by homeschooling groups, here are a few hazards to watch out for.
In some cases, state-level and even local homeschooling groups may have links to national homeschooling groups that oppose children’s rights or act in ways that harm children. You should always find out about a group’s affiliations before joining.
Other challenges you may experience with homeschooling groups are more interpersonal in nature. Homeschooling groups frequently grow, shrink, or have rifts. New families start homeschooling every year, while other families “graduate” out of homeschooling or enroll their child in school, contributing to a high natural rate of change. And homeschooling groups, as with all human communities, can also be sources of conflict. This conflict can result in the dissolution of groups or the formation of new ones.
Here are some potential conflicts that may arise in homeschooling groups:
Despite these potential concerns, CRHE advises that you should participate in at least one local homeschooling group. Make sure to choose one that seems like a good fit with your educational philosophy and outlook, and one that offers appropriate child protection safeguards, particularly if adults are going to be alone with children other than their own. For more on child safety, see our page on implementing child protection policies in your homeschool group.
Take some time to browse through the homeschooling groups in your area. You should be able to locate local homeschool groups by using a search engine; doing a search on social media; or asking at your local library. Because different groups have different ideologies or philosophies, lists of homeschool groups in your local area that are maintained by homeschooling parents may not always be complete.
As you research what homeschooling groups are available to you, you should do the following:
Once you have done some preliminary investigation of the options available to you, you should reach out to any groups that have piqued your interest. You and the group you are interested in will both be evaluating each other’s compatibility starting with your first contact, so be intentional about how you reach out. As you engage with them, you may want to find out about the following (although be aware that homeschooling groups may be sensitive about some of these topics, so tread carefully):
After you investigate a group, you’ll want to meet some of the people in it and see whether it is a good fit personality-wise. Most groups will allow you to attend a meeting or a park date with other members, or visit their co-op to see it in action.
Make sure to include your child in the process of choosing a homeschooling group or co-op! Going forward, you should check in regularly with your child about how they feel about groups or co-ops you are involved in, and whether their needs are being met. Remember—your child will not click with every other homeschooled child, and bullying can and does occur among homeschooled children. For more on finding a good social fit for your child—and avoiding possible pitfalls—see our section on socialization.
Don’t forget to read the other articles in this section!
— Homeschool Resources & Support
— Public and Charter School Partnerships
— Access to School District Resources
— Joining a Homeschooling Group
— Homeschool Umbrella Schools
— Drawing on Local Resources
Return to our main Home Educator page!