View Full Version : Running a local homeschool group

06-27-2013, 11:09 PM
I was wondering if anyone runs or takes part in a homeschool coop or local group. It's always nice to network but where I live we only have one group that is religious and when I ask a friend who I know is a part of it she was not very welcoming in letting me join with my kids. I have taken part in a group that is over an hour away just to get out and met a few people but field trips and meetings are sometimes hard to get to since they are so far away.

So I was thinking of starting a local secular homeschool group. I hope to plan out local field trips, coop classes and fun play dates at the park. Does anyone run or help organize these? I was just looking for some advice that would help me get started and be successful.

06-27-2013, 11:16 PM
i have not done so - i just want to point out something i mention to anyone trying to do local classes - for the most part, you should collect money ahead of time if the class has a required number of people. its amazing how many homeschoolers will say they will come to an event and then not show, leaving the organizer stuck with the bill! You have to be really strict with that!

i have mostly only helped organize park days, which are simple - put out a notice, show up at a park. do it regularly so people get used to it.

06-28-2013, 12:53 AM
I have organized a few single events, always making them explicitly OPEN. Open to all. An advantage to being new at organizing is you can ignore all previously existing factions. Yes, they will self-segregate, but there will be mingling too. Curiosity is a strong motivator :) You'll be surprised at how a group forms around a particular interest, and the religion factor gets left at the door. I would encourage keeping it open.

We have a group one hour away, which is Christian. The facilitator is very cool, and keeps an 'open to all' policy. The first meeting had 12 families show, all Christian (except for us). We are open about being atheist. Today was our last event at a water park. Five families showed, including us. The extremists dropped off, as they found different things to get pissed off about. We sat out one event, which took place at a church.

Our preferred group is three hours away, and much more diverse. They had the same tapering-off effect take place. Lots of families showed early in the year, and the ones that got the most out of it stayed on. Don't be discouraged if you see this happen. If you persist at making it a regular, expected event, you'll find a core community. Our preferred group had each family plan a lesson/activity/event. It made each feel more invested. Dd and I taught hoop dancing for our month :)

06-28-2013, 01:44 AM
I am in the process of trying to start a secular homeschool girl's club. This is the second time we've tried this, the difference this time is that we are exiting this county. I'm posting signs in about 23 different small towns in all four directions from our house. There are no other secular homeschoolers in our county and homeschoolers, in general, are almost non-existent. Our club's main focus is socializing and fun. Some of our activities will include Movie Monday, slumber parties, seasonal parties, hayrides, some volunteerism, bake sales, field trips, personalized t-shirts, etc. I'm hoping it goes well. If I get calls from anyone that is religious, they have to check it at the door.

06-28-2013, 02:21 AM
I started my own group a few months ago and participated in another one for about a year before that. The first one sort of fell apart for a variety of reasons, mostly boiling down to the fact that we all had very different ideas about what we wanted to get out of the group.

So, I started up the new one and I made sure that the parents had a meeting up front and we all discussed in detail what our goals for the group were, what we wanted to get out of it, and what we needed to have happen during meet ups in order for it to feel productive and "worth it". I highly recommend doing this before you start. I feel like it really got us all off to a great start and there is an openness and dialogue happening with the moms in this group that was really lacking in the first one. Also, we are all on the same page as far as what we are trying to accomplish.

second, I suggest divvying up the responsibilities so that no one feels overwhelmed or taken advantage of. This was another issue that we had in the failed group number 1. It was very lopsided. The current group is much more even in terms of people organizing and planning.

The group I started and participate in now is mostly a coop class type thing. I am also a part of a local Facebook page where homeschool moms in my are can organize activities or field trips. Anyone can organize and post an event. It has been great because different people have different connections, so there are a wide variety of field trips posted. Also, we usually have enough people participating that we get treated as a school group, so we get discounted, or often free admission to things. people will also often just post if they are going to the park, the beach, etc for free play. I did not organize this Facebook page, but it has worked out fabulously for organizing more casual get togethers as well as field trips, so I would reccomend looking into something like that for those kinds of events.

Hope that helps, and good luck :-)

06-28-2013, 02:27 AM
I participate in an exclusive homeschool group - its huge - covering most of the east bay (east of San Francisco) area. We have park days almost every day of the week but in different cities and I think that's a great way to get to meet new families without a long term commitment or having them in the your own. We'v had a few very destructive kids come over and basically dump every toy they could find on the floor then leave! Or pull apart all the lego models...etc. So I would recommend not having meetings at your house til you get to know someone a bit. Fieldtrips are good too, but like someone else said, if it costs $ have people pay up front, to reduce no shows.

Our group is kept together as a yahoo group, so its private, you have to be a member to see the messages and you have to be approved by a real human being to join. People organize fieldtrips, classes, park days, etc and post the information on the yahoo group site. We also have a Not Back to School Picnic in September where we take over a park and have a potluck picnic.

I'v been wondering about starting a secular homeschool group just because ours is so heavily Christian and the one time I blatantly stated that I was an atheist another mom sent me an email and was shocked that I would 'out' myself on a homeschool board. She too was an atheist but had never posted and was in hiding! Makes me wonder how many others are hiding out there. I'v managed to collect like minded homeschoolers in my science class and we do A LOT of stuff together, spending almost an entire day together doing science, Druidawn (creative writing game) and swim class, this year we're hoping to had sculpting.
I would send out emails to all the homeschool groups and charters in your area, maybe even ask around about local 4H clubs, sometimes there are homeschool 4H groups.
Good luck

06-28-2013, 07:56 AM
My advise would be to be excited about it, and really build a momentum. I've seen some half-hearted attempts to get groups going where the organizers weren't consistant, and their lack of effort tends to kill the group before they ever really get off the ground. It sounds like there is a need in your community, so I would put it out there what you are hoping to achieve, find yourself a few committed core families to start with and build up from there.

When my co-op started, our first classes were held in the home of the original organizer, and there were about 7 families then. We weren't overly organized about it, but over that summer we worked hard to spread word-of-mouth, and made preparations to expand in the fall by holding our classes in a park rec center. It has taken some time, but now we have a strong leadership team and things have gotten much more organized, but there has been a lot of trial and error in the process.

06-28-2013, 11:32 AM
I was the Facilitator for our homeschool group/co-op for 6 years. It was established when I took the position though. I will be happy to give any insight though.

Stella M
06-28-2013, 07:39 PM
I've been running a small co-op for the last three years.

It's inclusive, but I made it very clear that anyone who was religious needed to be respectful of those who weren't. So far that has worked.

Small is good. Regular meetings are good. Having time to play after the activity is good. Free is good.

I thought it would be very democratic but the group only really started to be successful when it had a leader. I'm getting tired of leading it now. However, ds likes it so I guess I will just keep going.

06-28-2013, 08:49 PM
I am a member of a local mixed group. It is basically a social group and we meet for field trips, park days and other fun stuff. We have a leader, but everyone is expected to organize an event once a year. It works well because it is not all on the shoulders of one leader, yes she schedules more than most people, but people who want to be active post, and people who don't, don't. I like it because I just post stuff I want to do and at times that are good for me. If people want to join great - usually there are always a few families who join.

06-28-2013, 09:22 PM
It is great you are going to give it a try. So often people are just waiting for someone else to step up and get it started. One place to start before an organized co-op with classes, may be with just building some community through activities like park days, field trips, and potlucks. I like the model where anyone who wants to organize an event can use the network and open it up to invite others to participate. This helps prevent having a single leader who burns out. It can also avoid conflict because not everyone has to agree on every activity being a priority for every family.

06-29-2013, 09:38 AM
I started a group when we were in England, because the Christian group on base was exclusive and maddeningly cliquish. We had a few playground and bowling alley meet-ups - nothing exciting, since some of our members lived kind of far away from the bases.

But then a few folks who were very close by joined and started organizing events, and the group suddenly became very active. I wasn't much for organizing things, because I didn't really bother with the community, on base or off base. (I'm a weird, anti-social, extroverted hermit.) Once things started happening, we had a homeschooler meet-up where everyone brought curricululm, so we could all flip through it and see it for ourselves. We got to learn how the pizza place on base runs. There was a farm or nature event - I don't remember, since I didn't go. But lots of neat stuff.

If you already have places and events in mind that you can organize once there are some members, that helps. It is also nice if you have other members with contacts. Maybe you're very familiar with the library, local museum, etc., and they know someone who will give the kids a tour of the fire station, who can teach them about life on a farm, and so on. So I say go for it, and try to have a list of ideas for things all of you can do as a group once there are some members.

That way, you don't start up and then, a few months down the road, say, "Ummm, what do we do now?" ;)

06-30-2013, 12:50 AM
I have nothing to add, except to say I can’t believe how LAME all this ‘faith’ stuff is. I mean, really? Can’t people just get over themselves and put the interests of children first? Would it KILL them to talk about the weather, the sales going on at the market, how cleaning a house and hsing is a PITA, etc!!! Don’t they already have a church where they can go ‘faithing’ away til the cows come home?? Arrgh. :explode: I don’t think Jesus or whatever other deity would want us to behave like such morons.

Sorry. As you were. :)

06-30-2013, 05:56 PM
Our local library has a book called Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them, and Not Burn Out by Carole Topp. I remember reading it several years ago and thought it had a lot of good ideas. It brought up aspects that I wouldn't have considered. I believe it was written by a lady who runs a Christian group, but that really shouldn't make a difference in the organizational aspects. You can probably get it through your local library.