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  1. #1

    Default Getting support groups moving

    Short version: I've been trying unsuccessfully to get a secular group started since November

    Long version: I started a secular support group in November, primarily through a Yahoo Group. We had a number of members sign up right away and then it tapered off. The Yahoo Group has never been active.

    In April, instead of joining the state-wide homeschooling advocacy group, I put the money towards a six month Subscription to start a Meet-Up group in tandem to the Yahoo Group. I was hoping for a platform more conducive to an IRL group as well as the possibility for greater visibility. I posted a flyer locally and had some success attracting a few members.

    Both groups are pretty much silent. I have planned field trips and playdates and had my family be the only ones to attend. I have tried scheduling a planning meeting/get to know you event and attended that by myself.

    About a month ago, I posted to our Yahoo Group asking the members there if there was still an interest in the group. I figured it was possible that it could be one of those "nice in theory" sorts of things, but maybe there wasn't really a need for a group like ours after all. There was a short-lived furry of activity as members insisted that they wanted to continue on...and then back to the silence.

    I have tried starting discussions to help members get to know one another with very little response. I have solicited member feedback on activities or dates of activities with little response. Basically? I'm talking to myself even though there are 13 other families that consider themselves members.

    The owner of the Yoga studio I go to just graciously offered to list our group in her newsletter and post flyers on her bulletin board. Another teacher at the studio offered to spread the word as well. This leaves the possibility for more exposure, but I wonder if we'll end up with more people...and still little participation.

    I realize that starting the group will require I take initiative for basically everything, but I'm beginning to wonder if this is worth it. How do I translate interest into participation? How long would you hang on before throwing in the towel and admitting it was a nice idea, but not really needed in the area?

    Please, tell me your group went something like this...and how you got past it.
    Last edited by mamaraby; 07-22-2011 at 09:41 PM. Reason: Spelling

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  3. #2

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    I have tried unsuccesfully to start groups for playdates and what not, never homeschooling stuff as their is a nice group in my area. Why don't you ask the 13 or so other people what tiem works best for them. Are you having too many meetings? Are you in a large area??

    Where I am their are a large number of homeschoolers, most are not secular. The one very active group here is inclusive and not religiously based although they talk about some of it at their meetings it is more like "what curriculum are you using to teach about history and is it christian based". No preaching. They have one monthly meeting and then they have several (sometimes more than one a week) activites. It is such a large group that not everyone attends everything.

    However if you live in a rural area that only has 13 homeschool families you are in for an uphill climb.
    Lee~Mom to 3 boys 7(ASD),5 and 1.

    http://layingcornerstones.blogspot.com/

  4. #3
    Senior Member Enlightened h5rus's Avatar
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    I just started a secular homeschool group and like you I am noticing a supposed interest (due to members joining) but not much in participation. I've been posting and posting and emailing people individually and nadda. You can drag a horse to water, but you can't make it drink it! It's frustrating but I am continuing to go on because I have out of 11 families that joined (with 18 kids between all), three families (5 kids) that are interested in participating (thusfar!). We may be small, but my hope is we grow in time!

    Good luck to you!
    ===========
    Heather
    Mom to three girls (12 year old and 6 year old twins)

    I blog: www.secularschooling.com

  5. #4

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    Too many meetings? I don't think so...I had tried to plan something once a month at the beginning - over the 9 month life of the group I had a total of five or so events planned and attended on my own. I have one Playdate planned (with the date picked by the three members who voted in the poll) in August. I have suggested we try to get together to plan things as a group plus a (Not) Back to School picnic in Aug/Sep. I've been asking for input, but as I mentioned, I'm either getting no response or very little.

    h5rus - We're not that far behind you at two (our family plus a friend of mine). I guess the most frustrating part is that I didn't start the group until I had more conversations than I could count with people who had been members of the local "inclusive" group, but felt out of place.

    The local homeschooling environment trends almost exclusively Christian. In the "inclusive" group it seems to me that most connections are made at one of the two co-op groups in town. One is overtly Christian in name, but the both have conservative Christian doctrinal statements that would exclude the kinds of classes our family would be interested in.

    I've had discussions with the leader of the "inclusive" group (an acquaintance of mine) who confirmed that I wasn't crazy in my experience of the group. She's honest in that the other group really is a Christian group and that there are likely others out there like our family, but they're not "out" as it were.

    Hence my wondering if there really isn't a need at all. Maybe our family really is alone in the kind of group we're searching for, but how do you for sure come to that conclusion.
    Last edited by mamaraby; 07-23-2011 at 12:16 AM. Reason: spelling - iPad and I have an ongoing quarrel as to what exactly I'm trying to say

  6. #5
    Senior Member Enlightened lilypoo's Avatar
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    I have to recommend Meetup.com. It's not free but you can find great coupons and specials if you search online. I started my group there in August of 2009 and we do indeed get a lot of members but only about 10% participate regularly, and it's the same 10%. I have no idea why--I do have a hypothesis that homeschooling parents often want to belong to a group as a "cover" for those who might criticize their choice to homeschool. I moved my group off Meetup.com to Yahoogroups and it all but dissolved. I took it back to Meetup.com six months later and it's finally getting going again. I schedule a LOT of activities, even if I am not interested or know I won't go. I also make it VERY clear that I cannot attend EVERY activity (not attending everything is something I am criticized for, often, by some of the members). I make sure we have a variety or meeting times as well--some members are morning people and others aren't. Personally I don't like to take the kids out to activities until after they've done some schoolwork so I'm not a fan of meeting regularly at 9am.
    Michele, home educating since 2003

  7. #6

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    I have also been involved in attempts to get groups going. One thing I have noticed is that when the schedule is left open for events to be scheduled at random times, it is very hard to get much participation at any event. I think homeschoolers get into their regular routines and get very busy with their own stuff and their closest friends and it is hard for them to make themselves available for a random one-time activity. It also seems to be difficult to get people to participate in a group that isn't already active. In contrast to this, I have seen a regular repeating activity that is firmly scheduled for a set day and time start small but grow in participation as the word spread and people saw it as something they could count on and planned it into their calendars. It might help to pick a regular time, ie every other Friday afternoon, and announce that the group will have some sort of simple event that allows for interaction that is regularly scheduled. I would try to get the word out that this regular event will be taking place, even outside of the membership of the Yahoo or Meetup group.

    Another thing to consider is whether the group is by definition secular or inclusive. I have only been in one group that defined itself as secular and it did not stay together. In that group, I met a couple of ladies who privately told me they weren't sure what to make of the "secular" name; both of them regularly attended church but not evangelical churches; they did not feel they fit in at all with the religious homeschool groups; but were afraid that they might be out of place in the secular group due to their church participation. They both wondered if the group was perhaps only intended for atheists. The groups that define themselves as "inclusive" and not have having a religious orientation so that everyone is equally welcome are I think more comfortable for moderately or very slightly religious people.
    DS1 14 in 9th, DS2 12 in 6th
    "The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine. "

  8. #7
    Senior Member Enlightened lilypoo's Avatar
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    Laundry makes a great point--having a schedule that doesn't vary a lot seems to be crucial. For instance, our morning plark days are every other Tuesday. Our afternoon park days are every other Thursday on the alternating weeks. Always same time, same place (except for our bad-weather back-up, which here in Phx includes the entire summer ). Teen night is every other Wed. evening; parents' night out is usually the third Saturday evening, etc. I fill that basic framework in with special things we don't do regularly, like movie days and field trips. This way if a particular family is never free Tues. and Thurs. when we have our meetups, we can still see them at a field trip or extra activity.
    Michele, home educating since 2003

  9. #8

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    Are you prepared to do an 'inclusive group, welcoming to families of any or no religion' rather than 'secular' ? I've never had any luck with secular, but the inclusive co-op had more interest than I could handle; we've ended up with a mix of Buddhist, atheist, pagan, Catholic - not exactly secular but definitely better than 99% Evangelical Protestant and no-one has an issue with keeping their religious status personal, rather than a group issue. Inclusive gives you more families to draw on; and hopefully some who will actually participate.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by h5rus View Post
    I just started a secular homeschool group and like you I am noticing a supposed interest (due to members joining) but not much in participation. I've been posting and posting and emailing people individually and nadda.
    Exact same thing here! I started a secular/inclusive group and have heard from one person in it. I know one of the members personally, and that she's further away from the area for which I created the group, but the rest of the folks are closer to or in this area. It's baffling, but I just keep posting here and there, asking them questions in hopes of starting dialogue, etc. Since this is a group for the military community, hopefully the constant change will bring members with an interest in getting together!
    Wendy
    Mumsy to Gavin (13-year-old artsy boy) and Rowan (3-year-old disco queen)

  11. #10

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    I actually just tried to start an "all inclusive" hs support group. I really wanted it to be secular but I was afraid it would exclude certain people (and I'm desperate at this point....have to admit it), so I opted for A.I. AND still got no calls....at all. I'm at a total loss as to what my next step is going to be to try to find some support (and some children that are even halfway kind) here in this town.---------sigh-----------shakes head...................

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Getting support groups moving