How to get the most out of being a member of homeschool group
Keep in mind when you join a homeschool group that networking with others is about being genuine and authentic, building trust, relationships and seeing how you can help others.
Ask yourself what you want to get out of belonging to a group. This will help you find groups aligned to your needs. Some groups focus more on helping the children learn different things, some on social activity and making friends, and others on volunteering to achieve group goals such as organise an event, provide particular services or resources, or specific support to meet a community need.
Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit a couple of times before joining.
Take up volunteer positions or offer to help out with organising different activities. Ask the leader or others in the group what you can do to help. This is a great way to stay visible and is the best way to build friendships. And it also gives you the chance to return the help you've received.
Remember to ask open-ended questions in conversations. This means questions asking who, what, where, when and how, as opposed to questions that can be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. This will help to open up the conversation: you'll get to know each other much quicker. If you don't easily remember names and faces, make some kind of physical contact, such as offering to shake hands or offer to hold something for the person as you say his name. Then repeat the name in your head - that helps bond the name to the face. Don't be embarrassed to jot down a few details about the person - ask if you can record his name and contact details in your pocket diary. Hand him a piece of paper with your details.
Above all else, give settling into a new group plenty of time. You may need to hover close to your children until they feel comfortable around new friends. That's okay, and is expected in most homeschooling groups.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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