Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Virtual Homeschooling Communities

I've been homeschooling now for about 10 months, and have met a handful of homeschoolers so far.  Being an introvert and working 30 hours a week, it's just hard to get out there and meet other homeschoolers. There are no other homeschoolers in my church.  There are no homeschoolers in our neighborhood. I do know of 4 homeschoolers in my town of 38,000+ people.  I wonder if there are more, but it's rare around here.  I have one friend who lives over an hour away who homeschools and I have one friend who lives 10 minutes away, who is the only homeschooler with whom I have regular contact.  None of my other close friends homeschool.

I live in an area where homeschooling just doesn't seem very popular. Yes, there are co-ops (none of which I can attend due to my work hours). There are Yahoo and Facebook groups for homeschoolers in my state, but seems that all the events and get-togethers are far enough away to make it quite a drive (and not doable with the number of hours I'm working).

Being an introvert, and having an introverted child, I often feel that we're ok on our own.  Meeting new people and making new friends is exhausting for both of us. We have a small group of closer friends already, which helps us not to be socially isolated.

But 99% of those people we have contact with in 'real life' are not homeschoolers.  We have lots in common, but not homeschooling. We don't really talk about curriculum or teaching philosophies or graduation requirements or scheduling ideas.  Sometimes I want to vent about a particularly trying day of homeschooling, but often, I feel like if I vent, the unspoken solution that they might be thinking is 'Well, you could just send them to school.' I'm not saying they're unsupportive. In fact, most are, but it's just something that we don't often discuss.  It's just hard to find someone to talk to about homeschooling.

So what do I do to feel connected? How do I keep from getting discouraged? (Because I DO get discouraged.)  Do we NEED to have a physical homeschool community??

So far, I'm finding virtual community through blogs on the internet, Facebook pages, and Yahoo groups. It's not too personal, yet I find inspiration, encouragement, and ideas.  It's nice to hear others' ideas, to comment and to get some replies. Sometimes I end up emailing a blog author briefly or just communicating through the comments of blogs. It helps me to feel a little less isolated.

Here are some of my favorites:
  • Eclectic Homeschooling - A family that homeschools with an eclectic philosophy.  They are learning Mandarin Chinese, as well as Greek and Arabic. I like their emphasis on global education. 
  • Simple Homeschooling - A blog with a variety of authors that offers a lot of encouragement and tips. This blog is FULL of ideas and inspiration, and a great read when feeling discouraged about homeschooling. 
  • The Unplugged Family  - A homeschool family whose philosophy seems much matched to mine. She also posts unit studies that I get ideas from. 
  • Home, School  - 2 working moms who decided to homeschool and explore alternatives to traditional homeschooling.
  • Gifted Homeschoolers - Especially for homeschooling gifted kids. I don't know if Monkey is quite 'gifted', but he's a sharp cookie with interests beyond that typical kid his age, so I find there are a lot of great resources here. The Yahoo group is quite active with ideas, and are a great resource also for twice exceptional (2e) kids - kids who are both gifted and have identified learning differences or other emotional or mental health disorders, such as ADD/ADHD, Autism-Spectrum Disorders, auditory processing disorders, etc. 
  • Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers - Another eclectic homeschooler. Love her posts - there are ideas, reviews, humor, inspiration, and profound thoughts.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of homeschool blogs and websites.  As time goes on, I discover more and more. I can't keep up with them all, so I pick a few that I follow via Facebook or through email feeds. I get ideas for making my day go smoother, opinions about various teaching resources, links for tons more information, and encouragement and reminders of why I'm homeschooling when I get discouraged.

I hope to someday find more 'real life' connections, but until then, the internet keep me from feeling isolated in this journey.