Saturday, December 31, 2005
Starting a new homeschool group can be fun when you have the right recipe. Samantha Stopple, homeschooling mom to Jade (10) and Corbin (7) and co-coordinator and founder of Lawrence Area Homeschoolers Network (LAHN) shares her recipe for starting LAHN.
Name the group.
As much as I wanted to find a clever name for the group, I think simple has served the group well. Lawrence Area Homeschoolers Network clearly describes what we are and its shortened form, LAHN, is easy to remember. It has inspired three more groups in Kansas, as well. (TAHN, MAHN, and GAHN) If you can think up a clever name, go for it. Otherwise, keeping it simple can be best.
Create a mission statement that describes the group.
Daydream a little. When you imagine the group meetings, what are you hoping for?When I daydreamed about LAHN, I imagined moms talking and helping each other’s kids, laughter, games, and fun. LAHN’s mission statement emphasizes social gatherings as the focus of the group. Our group is only a year old and several families have made lasting connections. I also wanted a group where experienced homeschoolers and new homeschoolers could get support and inspiration when they needed it.
Make meeting times and places consistent.
New families are more likely to attend if they can count on the location and time. Pick consistent meeting days (i.e. 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month) and set a time. In the summer, LAHN meets at a local park that we picked to avoid daycare groups and make it central for the families who attend. GAHN meets at a public library where we do crafts and play games. In the summer time, we head to the park for more playtime and in the winter the group will stay at the library a bit longer. LAHN meets at an old school in the winter where we have a classroom to use as well as the gym. In the classroom, we do open-ended crafts and play games. TAHN will meet at community centers in the winter.
When you meet at a park, make rain date plans. When the group is small and new you might be open to having things at your house. When the group grows too large for indoor meetings at a home, a children's museum or McDonald's playland can be good alternatives. If for some reason you can't find a consistent place to meet, consider creating a schedule a few months in advance.
Encourage additional activities that support your mission statement. Because I wanted LAHN to be about making friends and having fun, I encouraged several holiday parties including a Halloween Party and a Valentine's Day Party. If you don't have the time or the skill to organize parties, ask another member to do it. When other parents suggest activities that support the group - do it! One mom set up a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, which was a great success. Our group plans to do it again. Another mom in the group suggested we start a Mom's Night Out (MNO). Several moms look forward to this every month.
Start an email list on yahoo or smartgroups.
These free email list services are great because you can store homeschooling information, set up a calendar that lists activities for the group, and send reminders, plan future events, share resources, and keep in touch between meetings. For group safety, you can set up the list so new members can join by approval only.
Advertise, advertise, advertise!
Get your group listed on as many places as you can on the web or in print: National Home Education Network, A to Z Home's –Cool, local city information pages, post information on homeschooling forums, on statewide homeschooling lists, local parenting magazines, the local newspaper etc. The more places your group is listed, the easier it will be for homeschoolers in your area to find you.
Create a website. A website isn't an essential ingredient, but it offers an additional way for homeschoolers to find your group. You can also use it to share more about the group.
Distribute flyers. Include your group name, the mission statement and contact numbers. Post them anywhere you think might be helpful such as local coffee shops, community buildings, and the library. Hand extra flyers to new families so they can give flyers to their friends.
Tell your children’s librarian about your group. Often families considering homeschooling ask their librarians for information, so introduce yourself to your librarians and let them know about your group.
Make some business cards. I have found business cards useful because they are easy to carry and hand to homeschoolers I meet around town. I use them to pin up on bulletin boards too. I also gave cards to members of the group to hand out to their friends.
I expect some groups will take longer to get going than others. I was fortunate with LAHN's early success because not only did the kids make friends immediately, the moms did, too. I think our success comes from the camaraderie between the parents who look forward to coming to the group as much as the kids.
Kansas Homeschool Network would like to hear about your recipe for success starting an inclusive homeschooling group in Kansas. Email goobmom23 AT yahoo DOT com.
Additional help for starting a homeschool group:
NHEN-NewSG: The list for people seeking to start homeschool support groups in their area. The list hopes to provide encouragement, advice, and support to those working hard to foster connections between homeschoolers via support networks.
A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling: Starting a Support Group
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Would you like to contribute to Kansas Area Homeschool Network? We welcome your submissions, ideas, input, and feedback. Our purpose is to develop a bigger sense of community for Kansans who are homeschooling, especially those who feel they don't necessarily fit within the larger, traditional homeschool community.
It is not our intention to limit this website to any particular type of homeschooler. If you have a different perspective or advice to offer, we'd love to hear from you. We hope to build this as an inclusive site, with many points of view, where all sorts of people can browse and look for answers. We can't do that, however, without your help. Feel free to contact goobmom23 AT yahoo DOT com to submit your articles and ideas.
Kansas Area Homeschool Network is a better place if YOU are involved.
If you are a homeschool group coordinator, make sure your information gets submitted to our directory.
About the Editor:
Tracy Million Simmons brings you the Kansas Homeschool Network, with some encouragement from her homeschooling friends, after years of contemplating the organization of such a group. Also an unschooler, Tracy is mother to three. Tracy likes to write, document her family's history through pictures and stories, take long walks and bike rides, and contemplate what she's going to learn next.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
North Central Kansas
South Central Kansas
Note from KAHN: I have received word that this group is currently not active. Please notify me if it becomes active again or if I can add contacts here for people who are interested in connecting with people in the Wichita area.
Note from KAHN: I have recieved word that this group is not currently active. Please let me know if there is updated information I can add regarding this group or other Wichita area organizations I can list for people looking for homeschooling support.
WIHSsite AT gmail DOT com
This group generally meets on Wednesdays, though special events are scheduled throughout the week.
WIHS is a secular, inclusive homeschool support group in Wichita, KS. WIHS was created to forge an atmosphere of camaraderie among local homeschoolers. WIHS requires respect for other people's chosen paths and does not endorse any particular religious, political or educational philosophy. WIHS seeks intelligent, open-minded, forward-thinking homeschoolers who choose to explore educational opportunities for themselves and their children. WIHS seeks to provide a place where members can feel free to share homeschooling ideas and resources, ask questions and find encouragement. WIHS requests member participation, but does not collect dues or ask its members to sign anything. This group offers weekly meetings, fieldtrips, parents’ nights out, online chats, and online discussion via a Yahoogroup.
tahn AT prodigy DOT net
2nd & 4th Wednesdays of Each Month
We are a secular, inclusive homeschooling group whose main focus is facilitating social activities in the Topeka, Kansas area.
We value tolerance, acceptance, and respect for individuals regardless of age, race, or religion. We recognize and celebrate diversity.
Members use a variety of methods to homeschool their children. We recognize learning happens at all ages in a variety of ways and that there is not one right way to homeschool.
Occasional group field trips and often information about Topeka area activities that homeschoolers might be interested in.
This is an on-line group of homeschool families that structure activities around Five in a Row.
rfryendall AT msn DOT com
Will meet one time per month in Salina.
We are an unschooling coop group which means we will be child directed... Examples of this would include; we as parents would decide on a topic such as Johnny Appleseed. We then would have several Centers available for the kids to go too so they can learn as they will by doing activities, crafts, worksheets, or anything else that may interest them in the category that is being discussed.
We will also base fieldtrips on the topic. For example, on this topic we might go to Courtland Apple Orchard. We are looking at a Friday date for the coop at this point. We are also looking at offering a choir and a string band for Christmas and Easter Cantatas to put on for the elderly somewhere here in town.
coramdeo_intheeyesofGod AT yahoo DOT com
Meets every other Tuesday. For more information, call or e-mail. We're going with what works best for the members involved.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/awalkintheparkgroup/ online discussion forum
A Walk in the Park Unschooling Group is an unschooling/relaxed homeschooling parent group and co-op. We are social and academic in nature. We are founded on Christian principles. Everyone is welcome,regardless of belief. One thing that is important is we do not do any type of experiments or projects at the co-op or group itself in which someone or something would be intentionally harmed. That does not mean that someone who does dissecting or insect collections, etc. at their own homeschool would not be welcome to join; just that we do not do these types of things as a group. If a parent would be interested inleading a class such as this, they can definitely contact the members and conduct that outside of the co-op itself. A Walk in the Park Unschooling group would be billed as a compassionate unschooling group.
scatterville AT twinvalley DOT net
Weekly on Mondays @ 2pm
Manhattan Area Homeschoolers Network (MAHN) is a secular, inclusive homeschooling group that supports families and encourages homeschooling in Manhattan, Kansas and surrounding areas.
MAHN values diversity and requests participants be considerate to all people and faiths. Our common bond is homeschooling. Most of our meetings are social in nature, although members are encouraged to share their skills through special interest groups, activities, and organized field trips.
Diane Van Eaton
dnnvntn AT yahoo DOT com
We require members to sign a statement of faith. The group is both a social and educational group. All members chose their own curriculum and are totally independent.
sammimag AT sunflower DOT com
1st & 3rd Wednesdays of Each Month
Lawrence Area Homeschoolers Network (LAHN) is a secular, inclusive homeschooling group that supports families and encourages homeschooling in Lawrence, Kansas and surrounding areas.LAHN values diversity and requests participants be considerate to all people and faiths. Our common bond is homeschooling. Most of our meetings are social in nature, although members are encouraged to share their skills through classes, activities, and organized field trips.Membership is open to all and we appreciate diversity. We encourage everyone to join us for play days where our children can get together with other homeschooled children to have fun and to socialize. Learning takes place at all times, but we generally prefer to leave the lessons for our homes and leave the group time to explore our world together.
Angie Beck (co-leader)
the5becks AT sbcglobal DOT net
Quarterly Family Events
by invitation - contact Angie for details
Welcome to Real Life! Unschooling families learn from life, play and community in a child-led fashion. Whether you're a seasoned unschooler, are using an eclectic approach with some elements of unschooling, or are just beginning to explore the variety of homeschooling approaches, you'll find plenty of friendly, respectful discussion and support here.
This group is populated by unschooling parents representing a variety of ages, learning styles and perspectives, and the range of ideas and experience is enriching for all of us. We offer an email list, monthly meetings which offer a discussion topic, and time for open discussion and/or questions, and occasional family centered activities. To maintain a safe atmosphere where parents are comfortable discussing issues involving their children and family situations, we respectfully request that this be an adults-only email list and that group members bring only lap babies to the meetings.
KC-MCHS is a group for Kansas City area families who home school children of color and who believe their families will benefit from connecting with others who reflect their cultural and racial heritage.
For more information, please visit the website!
educateinfo AT yahoo.com
See website. Meetings include chess club, learning co-ops, history co-op, and park days.
E.D.U.C.A.T.E. is a circle of families who are currently home learning primarily for educational reasons. We provide one another with a network that can provide support, educational, and social opportunities. We share the belief that learning occurs at all ages and in a variety of ways. We value diversity and accept families with many points of view.
Monthly activities include: co-op, chess club, American Girls club, history co-ops, park days, field trips, educational activity days, parent's night out, and our monthly group meeting. EDUCATE also hosts an annual Recognition Ceremony and other family socials such as the fall kick-off picnic.
Most activities occur in the southern Johnson County area of Kansas.
badaboom AT kc DOT rr DOT com
2nd & 4th Fridays of Each Month
Join the Email List for Details
Gardner Area Homeschoolers Network (GAHN) is a secular, inclusive homeschooling group to support families and encourage homeschooling in Gardner, Kansas and surrounding areas.GAHN values diversity and requests participants to be considerate to all people and faiths. Our common bond is homeschooling. Most of our meetings will be social in nature, although members are encouraged to share their skills through classes, activities, or organizing field trips.
huffinfamily AT netscape DOT net
La Cygnes, Kansas
Will want to have teen dances on Fridays or Saturdays, family camp outs, check out the stars through telescopes, etc.
This is a new group of homeschoolers looking to put together activities geared toward teens, 13 and up. We will plan activities for younger children to take place at the same time when possible. Some of the things we want to see happen are: Dances, game night/day, movies, a family camp, maybe just time to hang out with friends, and whatever things they want to do. We want suggestions from teens and parents. For the younger kids we are thinking crafts, play time, games, scavenger hunt, and whatever else we come up with. We ask that everyone respect various beliefs and approaches to homeschooling. Tolerance of others is a must.
WIHS *not currently active
GAHN (KC area)
Kansas City Multi-Cultural Homeschoolers
The Unschooling Group
Arrow Homeschool Group
A Walk in the Park Unschooling Group
Kansas Prairie Association
YEA *not currently active
Coordinator: Cindy Conrad
Email List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hanck/
HANCK is a very informal network of Wichita area homeschooling families interested in creating and sharing group activities. Any homeschooling family can join HANCK. The only requirement is that you either already know someone in the network, or that you get up off your couch and actually meet someone in the network within one month of joining. This requirement exists because there are a few scary people lurking around on the internet. We want to make sure that those reading posts about where our children will be are real homeschooling families we've really met in real life. Really. Any HANCK member can organize activities for the group or a subset of the group. The rules, fees, and other details of any activity are determined by the member or members providing it. You may also use HANCK to advertise your own homeschooling organization.