From outdoor adventures, to co-ops to online support groups, being proactive as a home educator creates not only solutions, but also delight! In fact, through living by the motto, “If you cannot find it, create it!”, many home educators (myself included) find themselves initiating a wide variety of activities, events and niche groups that enrich their overall homeschooling experience. The catalyst for such initiatives is often a “hole” that we perceive in our family’s home educating endeavors or in that of the community around us. To fill that hole, we sometimes come up with our own problem-solving ideas. Just as often, though, we borrow tried-and-true concepts from others, tweaking these ideas to fit the solutions we seek!
Through doing so, we avoid reinventing the wheel and more quickly find ourselves rolling along again with enriched homeschooling journeys. Through the years, I have pieced together inspiration from many places to create both in-person and online community for my children, myself and other home educators. Perhaps one of the initiatives I have begun might inspire a solution that you’ve been looking for.
Take Art Outdoors
Last fall, I wanted more exercise and opportunities for fellowship with like-minded folks, while my children wanted more art experiences. So, I started a show-n-go Art-n-Nature hiking series that we fit in around other commitments. In a nut shell, for each hike, I picked a local nature trail, chose an element of art to focus on and planned an outdoor art activity or two that other families and mine could enjoy along the trail in order to help our children understand how to apply specific design elements to art. Then, I published news about the hike on large local homeschool Facebook groups, took RSVPs, and, finally, enjoyed some fantastic art and nature experiences with old friends and new.
Create an Online Group for a Niche Need
Whenever I find myself contributing a large amount of posts about a niche topic to an online support group for general home educators, a figurative flag goes up in my head. “Time to start a niche group,” it signals. One example of this is a local Montessori-Inspired homeschoolers group that I began. When the group first started, I hosted several in-person monthly gatherings about specific Montessori topics. These were well-appreciated by other moms, but just got too hard to schedule on my end. So, we pulled back to being an online support community which seems to serve everyone well.
Similarly, I have become involved in several specialized online communities for families of faith and families with special needs children. These groups have been a true blessing, for although I appreciate larger home educating communities I belong to online, I find these niche groups provide a greater portion of the support and community that other parents and I that are in them seek.
Learn About Habitats with Friends
Last spring, my children sought to build relationships with a small group of home educating friends, while I itched to sprinkle “academics” into outdoor fun. Thus, I approached an existing indoor mini co-op that I’d begun about the possibility of continuing our meetings with an outdoor Habitats class. Everyone was for it and so began four meet ups of fun, learning and adventure during which I introduced the children to what a habitat is and, then, explored woodland, freshwater and field habitats using hands-on activities. Our experience was so successful that another mom took my lead and led a similar summer series on Marine Biology.
Savor Sports Without Cut-Throat Competition and Weekend-Killing Commitments
In late summer, my children expressed a desire to play football. Around us, though, most local clubs hold practices or games on Sundays (which we reserve for faith and family time) or are known for prioritizing “wins” over development and fun. My solution then was to ask my husband if on he would be willing to coach a weekday Flag Football series for home educating families. My husband agreed. I got word out. Another mom offered to teach a secondary hour of lessons on trees, and, thus began a fun and fruitful series of meet ups filled with sporty skill building and scrimmages followed by hands-on nature and science learning.
Organize an Exchange
My children need a lot of sensory input, but I sometimes tire of making new sensory bins and activities. Thus, last fall I tweaked the tried-and-true idea of hosting an activity bag swap to getting a group of moms together for a sensory bin supplies swap. Each mom prepared enough of the same sensory bin materials for all the other families in the group. Then, we met with our children to exchange bags and chat while our children enjoyed some normal and super-sized sensory fun.
Create a Local Young (Middle School, High School) Home Learner Group Online
Of course, some home educators do not have time for swaps, meet-ups and co-ops, yet still seek a sense of community and support. That’s where e-efforts come in. For example our local homeschooling community has a strong online support presence for “school age” children, but until several years ago, lacked resources and ideas for families with wee ones. A local mom remedied that with a Meet Up group for young home learners, which, later, with my help, morphed that into a 170 member and growing Facebook group for local families with young home learners where folks offer daily support and friendship both online and in person.
The Possibilities Are Endless
With thanks to the other home educators and me heeding the idea that if you cannot find it, create it, this fall alone, my family has been enjoying awesome field trips, a monthly Eco-Science club, a hands-on Geography Club, a weekly DIY group and a mini co-op. We are also getting excited for an upcoming Mysteries of History Fair. How about you.
Martianne Stanger is a proactive local homeschooler of three who shares many of her “If you cannot find it, create it” ideas at Training Happy Hearts, her family’s online space for writing about their journey to train themselves to live fully, love deeply and learn passionately, with faith that promises (and delivers!) truly happy hearts.