Building Your Support Network: Community Resources
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We live, learn and serve in our community. For me, it makes sense to include community resources into my support network. These community resources will look different from city to city and from family to family. I have learned that even within my family, my children’s different needs and personalities means I tap into different community resources for them.

When I think about a local community, I think about specific places that can enhance our curriculum and education. These places include, but are not limited to: our library, museums, Christian schools, 4 year and community colleges, and local businesses.

• Most communities have a local library. Libraries expand our curriculum and ability to teach our children. I have found that the benefits of incorporating a library into your support network are well beyond checking out books. Many libraries offer reading programs and story time for children. This encourages a love of reading and can get you out of the house. And, let’s face it, some days we all need that. Libraries also may offer classes, programs and speakers that would enhance your child’s learning. Additionally, libraries can provide opportunities for children to volunteer.
• Just as libraries can provide resources to homeschool families, a museum can be an asset too. Some museums host specific homeschool days, offer discounts to homeschool families, or host classes geared to homeschoolers. Even if the exhibits aren’t specific to what you are studying, visiting a museum is a great way to engage your children and explore new areas of interest.
• Christian schools can be a welcoming place for homeschooled students too. Our oldest participated in track at a local Christian school. My friend’s son took a couple classes at the school. How each Christian school approaches involvement of homeschoolers will vary. In our experience, it never hurts to reach out to them.
• Colleges, whether 4 year or community colleges, can be a great resource for fine arts and sports experiences. Colleges host speakers, plays, concerts, movies, sporting events, etc. Having access to a variety of cultural experiences grow our children and can ignite in them a new passion.
• And, of course, colleges can offer academic classes for homeschoolers. Many families tap into community colleges for their high school students to earn dual credit (both high school and college.) For some families, advanced math and science classes are best outsourced. Our family is exploring a speech class at the community college next fall as a way to enhance our oldest son’s formal public speaking skills.
• Local businesses can be a great resource in terms of job shadowing, mentoring and even volunteering. With a junior in high school, we are tapping into different community resources than before.

In our family, community resources also include homeschool specific groups. Whether you call them a group, a school, or a co-op, I know the benefit of being connected to other families through a structured system.

• As homeschooling continues to grow in popularity, local homeschool groups/co-ops grow as well. These groups can offer social connections for children, moms and families. They can also provide concrete services such as classes, field trips, choirs, debate teams, and sporting teams. Some groups are highly structured and formal, others are not. In larger communities, you may have an option of more than one homeschool group. Memberships requirements and dues also vary by group/co-op.
• If you are looking at joining a group, it’s important to ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve/receive through participation. By asking questions and visiting with other families involved in the group, you will gain a sense if it is the right fit for your family. Questions to consider might include: Do I agree with the group’s statement of faith? What activities, both social and educational are offered? Is there a volunteer commitment? How will the group be able to meet my family’s needs as my children age? Is there a financial commitment I am able and willing to make?
• In Kansas, we were members of two different co-ops. The first provided an opportunity for my children to take enrichment classes in their elementary aged years. These classes included cooking, art, Spanish, and PE. The second co-op group we were members of allowed our son to play on their high school soccer team. This was an amazing opportunity for him and for our family.
• In Iowa, our daughter participated in an art class one year with the local co-op. She liked having a specific time set aside to do “real art” as she called it. I liked it too because I was able to visit with the other moms while she was in art class.

I believe that to build a successful support network of community resources you must know your children’s needs and interests as well as your strengths and weaknesses. I can’t do it all and thankfully I don’t have to. I just need to be able to research what’s in my community and connect my children to those things. And, when I can’t find what I need, I have learned to ask and keep asking in order to broaden my network. Whether you are finishing out this school year or looking to next year, I encourage you to explore your community and figure out how to tap into its resources.

Meet the Author

Debra Schroeder - blogger at Jesus is My Hashtag


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