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     The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

     June 22, 2011            


Homeschool Groups: Are They a Dying Breed?  



Deborah's  Picture  

Are homeschool support groups a dying breed? I certainly hope not! I've been in a support group for more than 15 years! I can't begin to tell you how valuable they are. Okay, I guess I really can, so here are my top 10 reasons homeschool support groups are valuable:


  1. Support groups are where you let your homeschooling heart out and the other moms understand you and don't look at you with incredulous stares or make offensive comments.
  1. Support groups are where you learn how to teach something you didn't know before, and investigate styles and curriculum you never tried before.  
  1. Support groups are where you and your children find out you are not the only homeschoolers on the planet.
  1. Support groups are where you and your children make friends who have the same values.
  1. Support groups are where you laugh and cry and play and learn together.
  1. Support groups are where you talk and listen and pray for each other often.
  1. Support groups are where you can ask all your questions and have them answered in many ways, any or all of which might work for you.
  1. Support groups are where you can get group discounts for all kinds of educational field trips and where you can get together and study any topic under the sun.
  1. Support groups are where you are encouraged to continue on when you feel like giving up.
  1. Support groups are where you can study God's Word together and remember why you have your children Home Where They Belong.



TOS Senior Editor 


P.S. I want to thank YOU, our readers, for loving us and encouraging us here at The Homeschool Minute. You are like a support group to all of us. We so appreciate your prayers and kind words and are so blessed to partner with you as you meet with and help other homeschoolers around the world.


Here are a couple of helpful articles on the subject:  


The Benefits and Blessings of Homeschool Support Groups 

Building a Strong Homeschool Organization 


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In place of Gena this week:

Homeschool Co-Ops 

by Heidi St. John, Author/Speaker    


You know, someone at a homeschool convention asked me this question a week ago. My answer was a resounding "No!" . . . and here's why:


The "face" of homeschooling is changing. When I first started homeschooling, most of the groups near Salem, Oregon, were traditional support groups. The parents met once a month to talk about various subjects, and the kids met quarterly for field trips or other activities. The groups were usually very small and met in homes. Homeschool groups in 2011 vary widely, from small support groups to homeschool cooperatives that function as both support group and enrichment class programs for students. Opportunities to get connected with other homeschoolers abound-and most of the families who participate in these groups are flourishing.


I believe that meeting together as homeschool families is vital to a successful homeschool experience. Why? Because we were created for relationships by the One who loves us best . . . and because we are relational people, for most of us, isolation is a killer. Homeschool moms who don't have solid friendships with other homeschoolers can easily fall prey to one of the oldest tricks in the Enemy's playbook: discouragement. When we don't interact with other moms who are real about their homeschool journey, we can be quick to think we're the only mom who's ever served Cheerios for dinner or felt like a failure at teaching long division. 


In our family, our First Class Homeschool Ministries co-op is our lifeline. The friends in our co-op are our people. Even though we meet only 18 mornings a year, 18 mornings have set the trajectory for our homeschool experience. At co-op, I've made lifelong friendships with other homeschool moms. These are the women I call when I've climbed up in a homeschool tree and need help to get down. Our kids love it too-maybe even more than I do! Through our local co-op, we've taken Chinese, rockwall climbing, drama, dance, and many more classes. 


My only caution when you're looking at getting involved with a homeschool group is to make sure you're not doing too much. Homeschool mom, it's your job to put your finger on the pulse of your family. If it's racing, you need to assess the situation. Ask the Lord to help you see which things are necessary and vital to the success of your homeschool and which are burdensome. Sometimes, we need to let go of what's good for what's best.


Whatever you choose to do, stay connected with other homeschooling families! Find your people! And when you do, be real. Let them know when you're struggling. Ask the advice of a seasoned homeschool mom at your group or in your church. Lay it out there. When you do, you open the door to a richness in relationship that can carry you through the homeschool years with joy.

~ Heidi



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Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


I guess I didn't realize that homeschool groups might even be considered a dying breed. But of course, I still like the mullet haircut from the '80s and might be missing something.


My thought on homeschool groups is that as long as there are homeschoolers, there will be a need for homeschool groups. Now those may change and evolve over time, but homeschooling moms will always need encouragement.


If you're trying to "go it alone," and I know some of you are, then you're swimming in dangerous waters. You may think you're doing okay, but you were not meant to go it alone. You may not belong to a homeschool support group, but you need someone (besides your husband) to encourage you and for you to encourage.


Actually, I think it was originally called the body of Christ, and they need you as much as you need them.


Oh, yeah, and remind them to . . .


Be Real,



P.S. I'll be in Portland, Oregon, this weekend at the state homeschool convention. First person to come up to me and offer me some trail mix gets a free book.


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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


Groups may be dying, but that is okay. Homeschooling is an individual activity, not a group activity. Your own family is all that needs to be involved.


People used to get encouragement from meeting in groups. But today there is plenty of encouragement--and all kinds of help--from magazines, catalogs, and published curriculums. Homeschooling itself is not dying. On the contrary, it is rapidly growing. People hear about it on all sides. Even non-homeschoolers know about this movement.


~ Ruth



Somewhere along the line, many people started replacing their homeschool support group with co-ops or classes. My children enjoyed co-op classes for subjects such as drama and art, or an occasional science lab, but for the most part they always preferred learning at home. Support group activities, such as field trips or park days, remained a favorite throughout our homeschooling years. The focus for mom and kids was on fellowship and informal learning, which was a perfect complement to our homeschool schedule.


When we began homeschooling, hardly anyone took their children to classes, since many felt freed from the restrictions of a school-type environment. Now homeschoolers seem to feel that you are missing some important experience if your children are not in classes. As I say in my talks, school is not the model. It is what we have been set free from, and now we can provide a more tutorial-type learning experience for our children-something custom-designed to fit our families. One of the myths out there is if your children don't take classes, they won't be ready for the real world of college. They have plenty of time to mature, and it takes little time for children who can think to get accustomed to the requirements of group learning.


Though there may be times when tutoring or educational support is needed, I encourage you to take the opportunity to learn with your children, not to just seek someone with teacher-like authority for subjects that are new to you or more challenging for your children. There is much value in the journey, not just the product. Let them see your faith in the Master Teacher to teach you all.


~ Debbie



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Contest Central  

For the month of June, 2011   


Wise Words for Moms


Wise Words for Moms is a chart designed to aid moms as they address and correct sinful behavior in their children. This chart was written by Ginger Plowman, author of "Don't Make Me Count to Three! A Mom's Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline" and is based on the ideas and principles expressed in that book.


Four pages of sinful behaviors are listed, including everything from stirring up strife, bragging, complaining, and giving up to whining, worry, and revenge. Next to each "problem" is a space for "Heart Probing," "Reproof (Put Off)," "Encouragement (Put On)," and "Additional Verses."


Under "Heart Probing," we are given questions to help our children examine the motive behind their behavior and determine the heart issue. For example, under "Defiant Attitude," we are prompted to ask, "Are you obeying or disobeying with your attitude?" "Are you truly obeying when you obey with an unhappy heart?"


"Reproof" lists some verses to share with our children. In this case, "It is wicked for you to harden your face and foolish for you to despise instruction." Prov. 21:29. "Encouragement" lists verses showing what we should do. "A wise heart accepts command and a happy heart makes the face cheerful." Prov. 10:8. Additional verses are then listed. ( . . . )


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