Category Archives: Homeschool Community

Why do I blog?

Why do i blog

 Isn’t it incredible how we can find answers to almost any question our minds can dream up, just by typing a few words into google? I’m even more in awe that the answers mostly come from ordinary, unpaid people, who devote their spare time to creating beautiful, informative webpages.


I know some people blog as a business, but even if they make a few dollars from affiliate advertising, I suspect that most homeschool bloggers aren’t in it for the money.


Why then, I’ve often wondered, do they blog?

Peeking into the blogosphere

When we made the leap of faith to homeschooling in 2010, I barely knew what a blog was. Ravenous for information about how children learn at home, I devoured every book I could find on the subject. I savoured every page of the Homeschooling-Ideas website. I even had Home Education Magazine, back when it existed in paper form, shipped from the USA.


But I didn’t know about the abundant source of  inspiration, support and practical wisdom provided continuously by real life parents sharing their homeschooling experiences on their blogs.


In retrospect, it was like I was content looking at the posters pinned to the outside of a door, without having any inkling that the door was the entrance to the best library/science lab/art studio/playroom I’d ever known. Until, one day, I happened to lean on the door – and glimpsed the treasures within.


One of the first blogs I discovered was Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Each Friday I would eagerly visit Kris’s Weekly-Wrap Up and add dozens of blogs to my online treasure trove (aka Google Reader).


I will always be grateful to those wise, kind bloggers who, without even knowing of my existence, lovingly held my hand through that first wobbly year after I took my children out of school. (I know they didn’t know I existed because back then I wouldn’t have dared leave a comment, even if I’d known how.)


Joining the great conversation

It wasn’t until I discovered that a real-life homeschooling friend blogged that it occurred to me that real people (even British people!) had blogs too. With the help of my lovely tecky husband I created Navigating By Joy.


For two years I wrote solely for the pleasure of writing, with no thought that anyone might be reading my words. Here’s my very first (very short) post.

After a while, Google found my blog and for the first time I experienced the thrill of making a contribution to strangers. (Google thinks everyone who wants to build a model Celtic Roundhouse should visit this ‘expert’, LOL.)


Then in January 2013 I decided it was time to connect two of my favourite hobbies: reading homeschool blogs and writing my own.


I scanned Problogger for some tips about creating better posts. I figured out how to join link-ups (here’s the first post I linked up). And finally I worked up the courage to show my appreciation for my favourite bloggers by leaving comments.

Recently a couple of other creative pursuits have been competing with blogging for my time. I’m also finding that being an unschooling mentor to my kids uses more creative energy than teaching them a curriculum.


So I’ve been posting less often, but I’m not going away.


I love being part of this homeschool blogging community. There are few things I enjoy more than linking up to one of my favourite blog hops, and then spending a happy evening visiting all my online friends and seeing what they’ve been up to.


Towards an educational tipping point

Free to learn 2

On a loftier note, I like making my own small contribution to what developmental psychologist Peter Gray calls the educational tipping point.

The goal of the Educational Tipping Point project is to encourage a critical mass of people to opt out of coercive schooling. The ultimate aim is to bring about a peaceful educational revolution following which everyone is free to choose a path of educational self-determination.


Gray’s Free to Learn is the best book I’ve ever read about how children learn, and I wouldn’t have come across it had it not been for a comment I left at Learning with Boys. (Did I mention how much I love the blogging network?)


Before homeschooling, I worked as a cognitive hypnotherapist. One day I’d like to use my coaching and therapy skills to empower more people to home educate, and to help people deal with challenges that arise along the journey.


In the meantime, I’ll carry on posting here about what we do, because when I experience wonderful things, sharing just feels like the natural thing to do.


Why I’m Glad I Joined Our Local Homeschool Group (Even Though We No Longer Go)

should i join a local homeschool group

I first heard about homeschooling from parenting coach (and unschooler) Scott Noelle, who at the time lived Seattle.  I loved how technology enabled me, in England, to get coaching from someone on the other side of the US – but when I thought about taking my children out of school, five thousand miles seemed a long way from the nearest homeschoolers I knew!

Our local homeschool group – Community on our doorstep

In search of kindred spirits closer to home, I turned to technology again.  I was excited when Google told me there was a homeschool group just fifteen minutes from our house, and within weeks I was enjoying tea and cake with some of the kindest, most welcoming ladies I had ever met, while my five-year-old happily played with their children.

Here were real life families thriving without school (their children looked just like normal children – shock!) – I’d had no idea these people were right on our doorstep!

In those first few months after we took the leap,  homeschool group was the highlight of my week. I would look forward to it for days, and by the time I got there I was in a state of such high excitement the other ladies must’ve thought I was completely bonkers. I wanted to hear everything about these women’s experiences of homeschooling, and I also had an urgent need to talk, to these wonderful people who understood what was going on with us. I had a million questions, which my dear new friends answered patiently, and they lovingly supported me through some difficult times while my husband and extended family questioned my desire to homeschool.

When my extroverted six-year-old daughter met our new homeschooling friends in the summer school holidays, she decided she wanted to leave school too. “I used to think it was just J(5) sitting at home all day. Now I can see you have fun!” she said.

That was three years ago, and although because of my children’s particular needs we no longer attend that first homeschool group, we count several of the people we met there as very good friends.  We would have missed out on so much if we had never been a part of it.

Something for everyone

If your local homeschool group isn’t a good match – or even if it is – I recommend trying several different groups.  In the three years we’ve been homeschooling, we’ve been to four different homeschooling groups.

We attended our most local group for the first year we homeschooled. During that time we also went to another group for two terms. It was more structured than our main group, and my daughter enjoyed the variety of activities offered – they did fencing and drama, for example. A third group we enjoyed very much – it began with a wonderful art class and the rest of the time the children played with sticks in a tall hedge (my two were in heaven!) – but we decided it was too far away. With the fourth group we hit the jackpot.  It’s also further afield, but it’s a perfect match for my intense, freedom-loving children – we’ve been there almost every term-time Tuesday for the last two years.

The value of network

We made real friends at our first (most local) homeschooling group. Friends we’ve been on holiday with, friends we go for long walks in the woods with, friends who’ve joined me in a  (parents only) Homeschool Inspiration Group. And that first group also gave us access to a rich local network who generously invite us to everything they organise.

Thanks to our participation in that group we’ve enjoyed field trips to galleries, botanical gardens and a space centre, we’ve taken part in homeschool sports and swimming sessions, and we often meet up for ice skating. We’ve also done French lessons and trampolining classes together – and that’s all since we stopped going to the regular group meetings!

Looking to the future

I think I will continue to appreciate our local homeschool network as my children get older. Although at the moment all our academic work is done within the family, in future I anticipate setting up learning workshops to meet my children’s maturing educational needs.

Friends will also become increasingly important as C(9) and J(8) grow older. Having a wide local network to draw on will, I hope, allow my children to find the friends with shared interests and values who will be an important part of their development into adults.

why I'm glad we joined our local homeschool group

More on homeschool groups

For more info and other opinions about homeschool groups, head over to the other Homeschool Help blogs:

Homeschool Support at Every Bed of Roses – Where do you get your homeschool support?

Home Ed and Otherwise at The Tiger Chronicle – Our successes with different groups.

Unable to Commit at Barefoot Hippie Girl – A sad story of how the inability to commit sunk a home school group.

Local Homeschool Group at Highhill Homeschool – I will always be a member of a homeschool group.

It Takes a Community at Seven Little Australians – Erin has been involved in home education support groups for three decades.  She shares an overview of that journey and the importance the groups have played for her family.

Homeschool Groups– This mom’s Lifeline!  at One Magnificent Obsession – Why our homeschool group is pivotal to our homeschool experience!

Local Homeschool Support Group – A Breath of Fresh Air at Hammock Tracks – No blog, forum or online group recharges or equips me to be a better home educating mother, like my local support group.

Collage Friday


Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

The Pros And Cons Of Joining A Homeschool Co-op


pros and cons of joining a homeschool co-op
Photo credit: USFWS

As the popularity of homeschooling increases, so do the opportunities for getting together with other homeschoolers. One way to do this is to join a homeschool co-op.

There are advantages and disadvantages to joining a co-op.  But even if you decide that a co-op isn’t right for your family, you needn’t miss out on the benefits. A co-op doesn’t work for us right now – I’ll share below about some of the things we do instead.

What is a homeschool co-op?

Here in the UK,  a co-op is a group of homeschooling parents who get together regularly to teach their children. Each parent offers a different class and children choose which classes they want to take.

Co-ops might meet weekly, fortnightly or even monthly.  They can be quite informal, but most  groups that consider themselves co-ops rather than social groups have a bit more structure.

Benefits of joining a homeschool co-op

1. You can pool resources and leverage your talents. Your children can benefit from another mum’s artistic flair while you get to run a science course, or vice versa.

2. Variety. Your children have a larger choice of subjects than you might think to offer. Even if you do project-based or interest-led homeschooling, there are topics your children might not come across in your home environment. You never know where that might lead.

3. Exposure to different teaching styles. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we get to know our children’s learning styles and can tailor our teaching to help them learn best. But another adult’s teaching style might be a natural match with your child’s learning style, which could be good for their confidence and help them understand tricky topics.

4. Social benefits for the children. By seeing the same people regularly, your children will have the chance to make friends with similar interests. They’ll have valuable opportunities to learn to work collaboratively. Extroverted children in particular will benefit from co-ops in this way.

5. Of course, the adults also get to make friends and mutually support each other in their homeschooling goals. When I first took my kids out of school, I was like a sponge around the experienced homeschoolers I met in real life – I was so eager to absorb every bit of the wisdom they had to offer. Joining a co-op in the early days of homeschooling provides a ready-made support network.

6. It’s inexpensive. You get the benefit of (relatively) expert teaching without paying for private tutoring. Curriculum costs can be shared, and you can save money by bulk-buying craft or science materials.

Disadvantages of joining a co-op

1. Being part of a co-op means having, to some degree, a common educational philosophy. Most homeschoolers find their homeschooling style changes over time (or with the season). We also tend to be independent and love our autonomy. Establishing shared values with all members of a co-op can be tricky, and staying in synch over time can be even more challenging!

2. Time commitment. If you have a child that already wants to do a heap of activities, you may not have a day or half day a week free to participate in a co-op.

3. Availability.  Once co-ops successfully get going, they may not accept new members.  (Then again, with more and more homeschoolers out there, you could start your own.)

4. Your children may not be a match. Even if you do find a co-op which shares your educational values and which accepts new members, your children may still not be a match to the co-op environment, particularly if they have special needs. My eight year old son, for example, has Sensory Processing Disorder and still relies on me to help with his emotional regulation.  A co-op class probably wouldn’t work for him yet.

What’s the alternative?

What if you can’t or don’t want to join a co-op but would still like to experience some of the benefits of being in one? Here are some alternatives:

1. Joining your local homeschool group will offer many of the advantages of a co-op but usually on a more casual basis. I’ll be sharing next week about our experiences with our local homeschool groups.

2. Set up or join a homeschooling parents’ support group where parents meet without children to talk about homeschooling. I’m in the process of setting up a “Homeschool Inspiration Group” with four lovely local ladies. We all have slightly different homeschooling styles, which I’m sure will benefit the group. My plan is for us to share ideas and resources, to inspire each other by talking about what’s working for us, and to support each other with any homeschool-related issues. I’m very excited about this and will share more about it with you soon. This is a good option if, like me, you have a child with special needs.

3.Tutoring, either paid or on a skill-swap basis with another parent. Tutoring in small groups may not be as expensive as doing it individually, and can provide social and teamwork opportunities. Our family extrovert, C(9), loves her group guitar lesson, and both my children used to do group French lessons with a native speaker in a group of eight.

4. Workshops and clubs. For the social and collaborative benefits of being in a co-op, you could invite other homeschoolers to join your children in a workshop (or series of workshops). Patricia Zaballos’ Workshops Work: A Parent’s Guide to Facilitating Writer’s Workshops for Kids has me excited about starting a writers’ workshop for my kids and some of their friends at some point. Denise Gaskins, author of my favourite maths book Let’s Play Math, talks about how to start a homeschool maths club here.

homeschool help series

There’s a season for everything.  Just because we’re not in a homeschool co-op right now doesn’t mean I’m ruling it out for the future. But it’s good to know that even without being in a co-op, my children and I don’t have to miss out.

For more ideas about homeschool co-ops, head over to the other Homeschool Help ladies’ blogs.

Savannah @ HammockTracks talks about The Ins and Outs of Co-Ops and asks “Why are you participating?”

Hwee @ The Tiger Chronicle shares her afterthoughts about joining a co-op in  Our Co-op Experience

Julie @ Highhill Homeschool shares three different ways to run a co-op in How does homeschool co-op work?

Nicole @ One Magnificent Obsession talks about how to evaluate if a homeschool co-op is right for your family in The Co-op Question: Yeah or Nay?

In Creating Synergy Erin @ Seven Little Australians shares how she fosters synergy in a country where co-ops are not common

Bernadette @ Barefoot Hippie Girl talks about why she looks forward to organizing or joining a co-op in the next few years in Beneficial Co-op(eration)

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses writes about moving forward in strength when she shares the load – Together Everyone Achieves More

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