One of the topics of conversation that I hear often relates to support groups. Home school moms, home school events, home school meetings, otherwise known as “the home school group”. At least that’s the term I’m used to. For as long as I can remember, mom always had us linked up with a group, (part of which was because she helped found the group we belonged to). She and a few friends realized that the need for support, friendship, and the occasional shoulder to cry on was a necessary part of being a home school family. Little did I know, it would have quite an effect on my life as well.
Mom and the co-founders of the group created so many areas to help us grow, question, and discover new things as we grew up. They cooked up some pretty incredible field trip opportunities, taking us to visit our local airport to sit in the cockpit of a plane, a dairy to milk cows, The Bagel Factory to see how our favorite snacks were made and behind the scenes of McDonalds to see how a Happy Meal was made. And that’s just a few of them.
The moms put together Valentine’s Day parties, Thanksgiving feasts (costumes included), ice cream socials, beach and park days, and other regular get-togethers, giving us kids the ability to hang out in a positive environment. We were able to do some very unique things (which wouldn’t have been possible if we had been sitting in a classroom all day), while learning, hanging out, and making life-long friends.
As we grew up, there was a change in the style of some of these events. Our moms saw the need for some bonding and life-lessons for us girls and put together a Girl Scout troop. We all got together weekly to earn badges, learn survival tips, learn life lessons and of course, sell cookies. I remember those lovely little uniforms (yes, you may sense a little sarcasm here), simply to die for!
The amazing thing about this group was its ability to be flexible and to offer an ever-changing variety of things to do. At one point, a few of us discovered an interest in art. The moms banded together, found a teacher, and we began weekly lessons. Watercolors, still life, trips to the Tahoe Keys to draw the geese my mother actually gave me one of my childhood paintings, framed, for Christmas one year. What a wakeup call that was. Thank goodness I moved on to writing!
We baked, we hiked, we played sports, we learned, we grew, and we were always surrounded by an amazing group of people who were going through many of the same things we were. As one of the kids, I was able to talk with some of my friends about my thoughts about being home schooled. Two of my friends had experienced both public school and home schooling, and it was such a great thing to have their stories, opinions, likes and dislikes to discuss. Another few friends had been in it for the long haul, like I was, but were younger, giving me the ability to share my stories with them.
Just recently I started exploring Myspace online and have found it to be a very positive experience I have found my home school group! My very best friend, Catherine (who I’ve known since we were 12) and other close friends from my original home school group have all found each other and we’ve been having fun sharing memories from when we were kids. Most people have high school reunions, we have the internet! Catherine and I have been working our way back to that close childhood friendship, sharing stories, experiences, introducing families, and making future plans to get together. While the internet is the tool that allowed us to rekindle this friendship, it is our original introduction, our home school group that created the relationship in the first place.
I’m not a home schooling mom yet, heck, I don’t even have kids yet, but I know that home school groups are an integral part of being a home schooling family. The relationships, the friendships and the encouragement, along with sharing events, joys and pains, successes and failures, and even the occasional Science lesson are things that can’t be missed. How else would I have been able to meet some of my best friends?
You may be unsure about walking into a group as the new kid, new mom, new family on the block, but the rewards of taking that step will last a lifetime. Support groups ROCK!