Even though homeschooling happens year-round, there are many families that follow a [semi-traditional] academic calendar and end up taking time off during the summer. As the result, in most larger cities and towns, there is a large population of homeschoolers who wrap up their yearly planning and start back to school at approximately the same time — usually somewhere in late August or September.
Area support groups use this pattern as a cue to re-group at the end of every summer as well. Though support groups are each a little bit different, once thing they frequently have in common is taking time off from activities during the summer, too.
It is important for homeschooling families, especially new ones, to notice that local support usually starts back up in August and September of every year.
Some support groups are very well established and highly structured, thus are able to start right back up again without missing a beat. Others, however, re-open the membership window, assess who they have in the talent-pool that year, discuss what members want to see-go-do, and essentially begin the process all over again each and every year.
No matter what kinds of groups exist in your area, use late summer as the time to think about the kinds of support that you might like that year. Watch the papers, listen to friends who homeschool, and stay up-to-date on email to learn about homeschool support for the year. Your city may even offer a “Homeschool Open House” as a way for newbies to check out the groups that are available in the immediate area.
If an “Open House” is offered near you, don’t hesitate to attend. Going to these meetings is valuable in so many ways. First, they showcase a group — or several different groups – that exist within commuting distance to where you live. Next, they offer a way to meet other homeschooling families who live in the area, too. Children (if they are invited to the meeting) are able to see other homeschooled kids, plus any dads who attend can see and hear from other dads, as well. Overall, everyone there gets a better idea of what is happening in the homeschooling community all around them.
And there are even more benefits to the Homeschool Open House, too!
In addition to general information about the groups themselves, Open Houses often point to city-wide resources and regional family events, not just those sponsored by particular groups. Families might hear about events taking place at a library, a museum or a park –things that are open to all homeschoolers, not just those who pay the membership dues to join a group.
In the end, the information gained by attending a large homeschool meeting — or Open House – may be enough to carry your family forward and sustain your support needs for the entire year. On the other hand, if you leave the meeting inspired, with a desire to stay connected to those you met that day, or with a questions that are still unanswered, the choice to join a local support group will be that much easier.