No need for Lone Rangers here...
So you think you want to homeschool. Do you have to go this alone?
Not by a long shot.
What did you do when you were expecting your first child? Did you ask questions? Did you look for those who had survived childbirth and parenthood before you?
Sure you did.
You can do the same for homeschooling.
1. Help awaits you in a Homeschool Support Group
Think back to those Lamaze classes. Guess what? Homeschool versions of those very classes are available.
They're called "Local Homeschool Support Groups." Most state homeschool organizations (yes, those exist too!) have multiple local groups that meet on a regular basis.
Just google [name of your state] homeschool support group and you're sure to find a comprehensive list of groups in your area.
So look one up in your area, gather your courage, and go.
Look for the gray hair
Expect to meet lots of welcoming, experienced homeschool moms. I suggest you keep your eye out for someone who's beginning to show a bit of gray in her hair.
Step forward and introduce yourself. Ask her how long she's homeschooled. If that gray hair is any indication, you'll find she has lots to offer. Pick her brain, ask for ideas, and if what she says sounds good, plan on copying what's worked for her.
Flatter her by asking if she would mentor you in your homeschool journey. Chances are, she asked someone those very same questions when she began homeschooling. She'll probably be happy to share what she's learned along the way.
Remember, homeschooling moms like the ones you'll meet at the support group are teachers and mentors at heart.
2. Homeschool Conventions (they're like huge homeschool fiestas)
Another phenomenal resource for getting started is a State Homeschool Convention.
Every year in the spring and summer, most states hold statewide homeschool events. You'll find hundreds of curriculum vendors, top-notch workshop speakers, and hundreds—maybe even thousands—of current and prospective homeschoolers just like you.
What a great way to research and gain support in one exciting weekend! You'll be able to check out curriculum and find special support in those subjects in which you feel a little bit less than capable.
You can sit in as speakers explain the hows and whys of home education.
But best of all, you can meet and greet many homeschoolers who have "been there, done that" many years before you. When this many people get together, all of them excited about their children's education, you're sure to meet some great people, be encouraged, and have a good time.
Don't get overwhelmed; get help
Admittedly, your first convention can be a bit intimidating. What do I bring? How can I save money while I'm there? With 100 vendor booths in the exhibit hall ... where do I start?
Here's a hint: Don't feel pressure to purchase anything at a convention. Browse around. Ask a lot of questions. Skip the impulse buys and the 10% off only if you buy now appeals. –It's much cheaper to make a leisurely choice in the calm of your own home than to try to fight high-pressure sales tactics on the convention floor!
Once you've collected your information, then go home and consider the options at your own speed.
For more practical tips about attending conventions, check out the Homeschool Convention Survivor's Guide. [pdf]
As you continue to explore the homeschool world, check out "A Tour of Top Homeschool Resources."