Friday, February 10, 2006

Homeschool Support Groups

Not Quite Supermom's thoughts about homeschool support groups hit home with me. I haven't been a part of a support group for a long time. I pop in and out of a few occassionally, but not nearly as often as when I first began homeschooling. Every so often my husband or I will speak at a homeschool support group and inevitably someone will say, "You should come more often. We need more veteran homeschoolers in our group." And they are right. I remember how much I gained from just being around those that had been at this a while. I start to feel a little guilty for not committing to come to every meeting. I don't feel as though I neglect new homeschoolers. I'm very willing to make myself available to help out in any way I can. It's just the commitment of time and energy that goes into a support group isn't something I can do. Many of the events planned don't fit in our schedule or with what we're currently doing.

There is also a potential downside to being in a support group. Cliques develop between the families; or politics and religion can often escalate tensions. Eventually, what started out as a support group often becomes stressful and a stumbling block. I have seen this happen way too often. So for better or worse that has kept me away from participating as well.

For a while, our former churches provided a framework of support and encouragement. We have hosted "family groups" where the majority of those who came were homeschoolers. I think I liked this type of homeschool support group the best. However, since we are no longer involved there, we have lost quite a bit of support. I can tell a difference in my attitude some days. I do miss the conversations and encouragement. Reading homeschool blogs fills some of the information side, but it can't (and shouldn't) replace real conversations.

I am blessed to glean support from my family. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders in so many ways. My mom is always spurring me on to keep going. I also enjoy the support of a sister close by who homeschools. We are able to share and challenge each other over many issues related to homeshooling. Yet we can still walk together in a close relationship.

So I'm not sure what to think about support groups anymore. I know I enjoy them when I do go. Yet, I don't have the same commitment to them that I used to. Is this common as homeschoolers move from "rookie" to "veteran" status? Do you particpate in a support group? Is it more of a mom's night out or do you look to it for activies for the children too?

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