Build a Homeschool Tribe You Will Love {Part 3}

Build a Homeschool Tribe You Will Love {Part 3} | Everyday Snapshots

This is part three of a three-part series on building a homeschool tribe. Be sure to also read part one and part two.

After about seven months of planning homeschool activities in my area, I noticed that a core group of people were usually the ones attending my events. We always had a few extra people, but many of the same ones kept coming back for more. Our kids were similar in ages and liked playing together. We had developed a camaraderie and enjoyed each other’s company.

I could have stopped my tribe-building right there and been very happy with the results. Some of the other moms were also starting to plan some trips and events, so I was not having to do all of them. I wanted more though.

Narrowing the Focus

I wanted, no needed, support in my chosen method of homeschooling. Homeschoolers are great people, but I wanted brains to pick, people to share resources with, someone to bounce ideas off of.

Through conversations over sack lunches and the park bench, I was beginning to realize there were people in my area who were classically homeschooling or who were interested in it. This is when I decided to take things one step farther. I started a book club for classically homeschooling moms.

This is where I note that while my passion and method of choice is classical education the same approach can work for any homeschooling method — just change the name of your book club.

If your choice is Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or unit studies there are more than enough books to keep your club busy about any of those topics. Or instead call yourself a support group and get together to eat chocolate and dish about your problems.

I think the books do give us focus, though. In fact, the book club gives us quite a bit of focus. We started by reading The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, a specifically classical homeschooling manual. I was going for the die-hards here. I set up a separate, private Facebook group for our correspondence and issued an invitation on the our regular homeschooling board.

Seven moms attended the first meeting — and every one of them had read the book! We had a fascinating conversation, and I went home knowing that I had found my tribe. Many books (and audio lectures), many meetings, many restaurants later we are still going strong. We bounce ideas off of each other, come to each other for support, share resources, and discuss philosophies.

Running a successful group

A few times each year we advertise on the regular homeschooling group to see if anyone is interested in joining us. We want to be sure to catch any newbies to the area or see if someone else has finally gotten curious enough to check us out. We usually have a few takers at that time, who I add to our private group.

I do keep the private group pretty tight. Members who join who are not known to me are removed from the group if they do not attend a meeting. I always preface a purge with a reminder that the group is for real-life and not just online interaction.

We also cut each other slack. Many times members have attended who have not finished or even read very much of the book (I have done this myself.)

I would much rather have someone there who wants to attend than exclude someone because life got in the way of their reading. We find that we are typically able to add to the conversation no matter what.

Sometimes we ease the reading burden by choosing a work of fiction or listening to and discussing an audio lecture instead. There are many fabulous homeschool lectures online that make for great discussion. Sarah has a wonderful list of audio organized neatly on her blog.

Sometimes we just take a break altogether. For Christmas we had no book — we simply went out to dinner and played Dirty Santa with white elephant gifts from our homeschool rooms. It was the perfect way to come together without the pressure of finishing a book during the busy holiday times.

Build your tribe

It really is just that easy. With a little time and a little effort before long you will have a group of homeschoolers who you feel like you just can’t homeschool without. And with this tough job we do, people who can share the highs and lows of our day are a necessity to our success and sanity.

If you decide to give it a try, I would love to hear how it is going for you. Feel free to comment or drop me an email at pkbarnhill (at) gmail (dot) com.

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  • This is such a great idea! Thank you for the inspiration!
    My recent post Capturing Contentment: Being interested in the details of daily life

    • edsnapshots says:

      We love our club, Mystie. You won't be sorry if you give it a try. 🙂

  • Cassie says:

    I surprisingly enjoyed this series! I say that because the introvert I am has no motivation to ever go out and build my own tribe, lol! But, now I could! Maybe I will . . . . . 🙂
    My recent post 12 Days of Christmas Gifts!

    • edsnapshots says:

      I am about as far as you can be to the “I” end of the scale without falling off. 😉 What I love about my tribe is that we no longer have to waste time on the idle chit-chat. We know each other well-enough that we are having the good conversations. We laugh, we have fun, but it's also a place to talk about things like the Lewis, and the best George McDonald book, and Latin, and the importance of fairy tales and everyone gets it with no explanation. Makes all the putting myself out there from the early days totally worth it.

  • Amber says:

    I know I'm late commenting here, but I wanted to thank you for this very encouraging series! I find it interesting that you've had so much success finding people online – I've tried to look for people that way and not had any luck up here. Maybe because I'm in a more rural area, people aren't quite as connected online? There's a lot of people around here who view the internet with quite a bit of suspicion, and barely even check their email accounts! (Hard to believe, isn't it!) I've tried to do different things to find my tribe over the six years we've been in this area and I've found some families, but no one who really gets me or what we do in our homeschool. I get one of two responses – either, “gee, that sounds like a lot of work” or “you don't really need to do all that – just the basics with workbooks is enough”. I'm planning on trying again next school year or maybe this summer – I want to give myself some more time to get on top of things after the birth of our newest family member.

    • edsnapshots says:

      Just keep looking. A few years ago I would have told you there was no one here either. Maybe try the library and even ask the librarian if she knows of any homeschoolers who check out the same volume and types of books as you? 😀

      Also, I have found it helpful to have a one or two minute elevator speech that really explains how and why we homeschool like we do. Most people simply don't understand that my goal is not just to get my kids out of the public school building, but to give them something entirely different than the progressive definition of education.

      Good luck with the new baby and in your search!
      My recent post 14 Not-Just-For-Preschool Valentine's Day Activities

  • Amber says:

    Oh, I did have a question that I just remembered… when you started looking around for online groups, did you constrain yourself to Catholic or Christian groups, or did that just sort of happen as you went through the narrowing down process? I think I remembered seeing on your coop posts that you have a Christian coop…
    My recent post Charlotte Mason and Physical Training: A Warning for Me to Heed

    • edsnapshots says:

      No, Amber. When I first started looking for people, I just went general homeschooling groups. And honestly that did happen naturally as we went along without us purposefully excluding anyone. Our group is Christian, but it is about half-Catholic, half-not which is great for our area since Catholics are a vast minority here. (There is one parish church and at least 100 Baptist ones alone.)
      My recent post 14 Not-Just-For-Preschool Valentine's Day Activities

  • […] May has been pretty low-key for us. With Matt gone most of the month for his annual training, we have stuck close to home and worked on finishing out the school year. One of my highlights of any month is my classical mom’s book club. […]

  • […] Sarah’s Teaching From a State of Rest. I’ve read it, folks, and it is so good that my classical mom’s book club is going to spend two sessions on it — something we have never done […]

  • […] a book club of other homeschool moms to read classics or study homeschooling books like Charlotte Mason’s […]

  • Krista says:

    Hi Pam! I love your blog! This one, I was especially interested in as I am in the same boat… Except I am attempting to start a small group science club. I was wondering if you have blogged about planning a group or if you have a planner available? Please and Thank You!

  • Alicia says:

    This was a fabulous read, and perfect timing. I have been in the broad net phase for going on three months. I am just now seeing others post events and planning meet ups.

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