Families new to homeschooling often worry that they will be isolated from other people during the day, and that their kids will not be “properly socialized.” There are various ways to provide good education to your children, and many of them involve other people!
One thing we tried a couple of times early on in our homeschool journey was to join a co-op. A co-op is just what it sounds like — groups of families come together to learn one day each week. We tried a small family co-op for a year, and we read several books by Laura Ingalls Wilder with our kids at home and then met weekly to do fun things from the books — like washing clothing on a washboard, picking apples and making apple sauce, and milking goats. It was hands-on and fun for the mixed ages in the group.
Another co-op we joined was more structured and met at a church. My youngest did a kindergarten class, which provided fundamentals in phonics, math, group play, and cutting/pasting projects. While she did that, my then 4th-grader learned to play chess and took a hands-on math class. And I served in the nursery, taking care of the littlest kids and infants so that instructors could teach uninterrupted. This was fun for my kindergartner but my 4th grader did not really enjoy the co-operative learning experience.
So we tried something else the following year. We took a break from co-ops and became more involved with our Homeschool Support Association (HSA). And this is where we found balance.
One of the best things we found through the HSA was the Pixie Girls Book Club. It was exactly what I was looking for! A dozen or more girls would read a book (or listen to the audio version, or have it read aloud to them!), and then meet once a month in someone’s home to discuss the book, do a project, eat snacks, and be with other girls. If the weather permitted, we’d meet at a park or beach. And while the kids played, moms talked …. Here I found abundant resources! “Do you ever struggle with …?” “How do you teach …?” “Where can I find …?” You get the idea! This group became such a treasured lifeline.
As a family, we also made it a priority to go on at least one field trip each month with our HSA support group. We got to tour Theo’s Chocolates in Seattle and Wolf Haven in Tenino. We went on a boat trip on the Puget Sound where families learned about the importance of plankton and why we should care about what goes down our drains at home. (We learned that there were high levels of vanilla in the collected water samples around Thanksgiving!)
Not everything we chose to do was connected to our homeschooling support group. We tried group piano lessons, martial arts, horseback riding, Girl Scouts, guitar, and many other activities. All of these activities met regularly and involved other people!
So let me reassure you that if you are considering homeschooling but are worried that you will be isolated at home all day with just your kids, that is not the case.
There are more than 2 million homeschoolers in the United States, and chances are there are some living close to you. Be bold! Homeschool if you are called to. I promise that you will not go on this journey alone.