Support groups are not all the same, however, so its helpful to know a little about the different types when choosing a homeschool support group for your family.
National, State and Local Support
You will find national, state-wide and local support groups for homeschooling parents.
National groups provide general information on homeschooling and try to connect homeschoolers from each state together.
State support groups work on a state level to inform parents about homeschooling laws, requirements and information for your particular state. Homeschooling parents like you, and I usually run these organizations and their experience and help is invaluable as they continue to keep us up-to-date, and work to ensure homeschooling remains legal.
Many also organize and host statewide homeschool conferences, so you can learn from different homeschooling speakers, receive encouragement and discover new homeschool curriculum and materials.
Both national and state groups provide support primarily for parents only, although some do offer events during the year for students too.
Local support groups organize local meetings, events, field trips, classes and other support opportunities. If you want support or classes for your children, you will definitely want to join a local group that offers more than just support meetings for parents.
Religious Support Groups
With the growth of homeschooling you will find a variety of religious homeschool support groups. When choosing a homeschool support group, you will want to find out their religious affiliations or beliefs, if this is a concern to you.
Inclusive groups provide support to parents regardless of religious views. Anyone can join an inclusive group, however... one note about inclusive groups, from my experience... most do not allow posts or sharing of information via online forums regarding God, Christianity or politics.
A homeschool co-op, or co-operative, is a group of families that meet together regularly, so their kids can take educational/enrichment classes. Usually the parents teach the classes and everyone helps out in some way... setting-up, cleaning-up and/or working at whatever needs to be done.
Co-ops can be large, with hundreds of people or small... with only a few families meeting together in a home.
Homeschool Enrichment Programs
Another way to receive support for your family is through a homeschool enrichment program.
Homeschool enrichment programs differ from homeschool co-ops in that the classes are taught by paid instructors, rather than other parents in the group. Classes usually cost more than co-op classes to cover the instructor fees, etc.
Membership Fees and Requirements
When choosing a homeschool support group, you will want to find out if you need to pay any membership fees or if there are other membership requirements. Membership fees range from free and up, depending on the services and support provided.
Structured vs Unstructured Groups
Homeschool groups come in all shapes and sizes. If you want regular scheduled support events and opportunities, consider a more structured group when choosing a homeschool support group for your family.
If the group you choose only meets sporadically during the year, you may not receive the support you were expecting or would like, especially if you are new to homeschooling.
Many families who have homeschooled for a number of years may not need or want to join a structured group... they may only want to meet once in a while for field trips, etc.
So before choosing a homeschool support, make sure you ask, to avoid any disappointment.
Online Support Groups and Forums
If you are busy, have young children, or just can't get out to meet with other home educators regularly, you will find a variety of support sources via the internet.
Yahoo groups and online forums provide a convenient way for you to talk to others and post your questions. If you visit regularly, you will begin to get to know other posting members and perhaps develop some deeper relationships over time.
Although nothing beats meeting with others face-to-face, online groups offer convenient support 24/7!
Other Ways to Receive Support...
If you are looking for home school support, homeschool magazines offer a convenient solution to busy homeschooling parents, anytime and anywhere!
When looking for homeschool support and encouragement, homeschool blogs provide a simple way to give and receive homeschool help.