The Value of a Support Group

A support group can be an invaluable part of your homeschooling experience. It can provide numerous benefits and educational opportunities. If you are new to home-schooling, you might be asking, "What is a support group?" so let’s answer that first.

A support group is a group of home-schooling families in the same geographic area who have formed a support network. Some support groups are very large and others are small. Some are loosely organized; others are governed by elected leadership. Some support groups have informal activities and gatherings, while others have a wide variety of activities and educational offerings for their members. Though no two support groups look alike, the benefits they offer are common to all.

  1. Support groups provide an abundance of information.
    Support groups are a great way to find out about educational opportunities in your area. Groups utilize email loops, newsletters, and phone chains to get information out to their members about upcoming opportunities. With all members providing information about opportunities, you will be well informed of what is going on in your area.
     
  2. Networking.
    "What curriculum do you use?" "Have you tried this?" "Can I look at what you are using for history?" "Do you know of a good piano teacher?" A support group provides endless networking opportunities. You can find answers to your questions from those who have a broad base of experience.
     
  3. Educational Activities.
    Support groups often come together to plan various educational activities for their members. Some of these include spelling bees, geography bees, science fairs, field days, and more. Support groups make it possible to participate in activities you would not be able to participate in alone.
     
  4. Relationships with other homeschooling families.
    One of the greatest benefits of the local support group is finding friends who share your convictions and values. These friends provide vital encouragement and fellowship for you and your children. There is joy in the journey when we share it with a friend.
     
  5. Mentoring.
    A support group is a venue for continual teaching and learning. New homeschoolers can learn from those who are more experienced and veteran homeschoolers can teach those who come behind them. It might be over a cup of coffee or while talking with a group of moms while the children are participating in an event. Even though we’ve been homeschooling a number of years, I treasure the wisdom I glean from those who have gone before me, been in the trenches, and learned from experience. I also treasure the enthusiasm and ideas from those just getting started. We never stop learning.
     
  6. Social activities.
    A support group provides opportunities for social activities with like-minded families and children. One of the biggest myths of homeschooling is that children will miss out on social opportunities. Research has shown that 98% of all homeschooled children are involved in 2 or more activities outside the home (Home Schooling Achievement, Dr. Brian Ray, National Home Education Research Institute,1997.) Support groups provide many of these opportunities for social interaction. As part of a support group, the issue that is dealt with more often than not is selecting which activities to participate in because you can’t do them all.
     
  7. Support groups provide visibility and credibility for homeschooling in the community.
    It is an encouragement to parents to know there is a network or organization they can be a part of when they decide to homeschool. Parental involvement and flexibility allow for many unique opportunities that would not be feasible in other educational settings. Those skeptical of homeschooling often become advocates when they see the opportunities presented to homeschoolers. Many are even intrigued to investigate homeschooling because of educational activities offered by their community’s support group.
     
  8. Extra-Curricular Activities.
    Support groups have the opportunity to start 4-H groups, Envirothon groups, choirs, co-ops, clubs, sports teams and more. Support groups are full of parents who are willing to share their talents, resources, and skills with students. As long as there is parental involvement, there is no limit to what can be offered or organized.
     
  9. A support group offers just what it says... support!
    Don’t go it alone. Be part of a network of people who can enrich your life and your schooling experience. Other homeschooling families can provide encouragement for the journey and help us stay the course. When I am facing burn-out or discouragement, when I am stumped by my child’s inability to grasp a concept, or when I am really excited about something new, there is always someone in my support group to share the load or share the joy.
     
  10. You can be part of a support group!
    NCHE can direct you to a support group in your area or help you to start one. You can call the NCHE office or you can go to www.nche.com to find out how to contact your regional director for more information on support groups in your area.
Note: Special thanks to the homeschool moms from Region 12 who contributed information on the benefits of home-schooling. This input provided the basis for this article.

Kay Bindrim

Kay and her husband, Tommy, have five children and began homeschooling in 2000. They operate Bindrim Testing and Educational Services and have served on the executive committee of their local support group and the NCHE Board. They enjoy encouraging other homeschool families.