New homeschoolers sometimes describe the learning curve as steep. There can be legal jargon to figure out and curriculum decisions to be made, juggling multiple children and attending activities outside of the house, keeping a home and maybe even holding down a full- or part-time job to boot. And though newbies have very little time to devote to support, it can actually be what they need the most at the very beginning.
Once families get rolling, support needs can begin to change. Curriculum choices may be questioned or suggestions for scheduling the school day could be needed. Record-keeping systems, that may not have existed prior, may need to be developed. Families may decide that they need additional experiences to fill in the blanks left at home. Maybe students begin looking for other homeschoolers to study with or just to hang out. Students who struggle in certain areas may require help, or their parents some guidance. There are dozens of other areas where outside support can be helpful during these early years.
Some years into it, when homeschooling reaches a fairly comfortable level, support needs may begin to change again. Homeschooling older children with younger siblings around could become a challenge. Teaching multiple children the same age, or schooling several children together might be an issue. Sometimes, approaching middle- or high school concerns or perplexes parents. Others just want to learn more about grading, calculating course credits, or finding college classes of volunteer work for their teens. Or perhaps the questions are about allowing students to focus on their skills and passions while still covering the basic core.
The good news is that there are many levels of homeschooling support — one to match every stage of homeschool growth and almost every imaginable need. While larger state or national groups can be helpful initially for obtaining legal information and basic homeschool requirements, smaller local support groups may play a larger role later on. Focused groups, such as ones comprised only of families with teens or just for families who use a certain method, can be helpful down the road. So can resource groups for those of students with specific challenges or parents who must work full- or part-time. Lifelines, whether they be via telephone, email, online discussion groups or physical meetings, extend all across the nation for homeschooling families of every kind. The choices are there, just ready for families to draw from whatever resource pools exist or to partake in whichever activities are available.
And though there are many families who operate very successfully with no support at all, the truth is that most homeschoolers appreciate at least having some level of support available, in case they ever need it. Just knowing that these individuals and groups are there — should the need ever arise – can be comforting all by itself. Having the ability to ask questions, hear from experienced families who have done similar things before, and stay connected to people, places and resources, is even better.