How can I talk to some SHGers to see if homeschooling is for me?
Read the FAQ's page for some virtual advice, and if you wish to contact our Newcomer Welcomer to see if there are any Q&A's planned or to attend a public park day, please e-mail:
How do I join SHG & the online list?
Please see the about SHG & how to join-in page.
I’m new to SHG. How can I get to know people and feel more involved?
answered by a fellow SHG parent
When families come to Seattle Homeschool Group, they’re usually looking for the company and support of other homeschooling families. If you’re new to SHG, you may be wondering, “How can we find that?”
First, know that as a new family you are not alone. Each year dozens of families come to their first SHG event and subscribe to the online forum/EM. That means SHG is brimming with new families looking for community and ready to get to know you!
Second, understand that SHG is a 100% volunteer organization. People pitch in according to their abilities and take personal initiative to form relationships. While it has no official office staff, SHG boasts the efforts of many families to nurture an active, thriving community. These efforts give you several options for connecting with other homeschoolers.
Where can newcomers start?
SHG’s activity schedule works like a potluck: Families serve up their specialties and favorites in whatever amounts they can prepare. These range from one-time events to monthly clubs and annual parties. There may be an afternoon of card games in the living room with a guest list of six, or a come-one-come-all road trip to Canada. Because so many families share activities with the group, there’s always a chance for your family to meet others. SHG has weekly park days, too!
To take advantage of all this community-building potential, former SHG newcomers suggest the following:
Go to everything. Check out the monthly schedule and popular events via the online forum/EM, and plan to attend as many events as possible. Also, watch the list for spontaneous activities throughout the month. Even if you don’t have long conversations with other field trip or park day attendees at first, simply showing your face over and over creates familiarity. You’ll also figure out which activities you like most and spot other families with the same interests.
Get your name out there. Build name recognition with regular posts to the online forum/EM list. You could share a favorite homeschooling resource, or thank another family for scheduling an activity you enjoyed. The more often people run across your name, the more easily they’ll remember it when they see you. Plus they’ll already know a little about you from your messages.
Make the first move. If you show up at a group function and no one asks your name, it may be because everyone else is new and waiting for introductions. A regular park day attendee says, “I appreciate it when newcomers take the initiative and say ‘Hi, I’m new.’ Sometimes I’m not sure whether an unfamiliar parent at park day is a homeschooler or not.” A tactic that worked for one new mom was to carry around a notebook and write down the names of parents and children she met, the neighborhoods they lived in, and their common interests. She kept that notebook handy for making conversation at every group event.
Include quality time. One mother says, “Mom’s Night Out really broke the ice because I could get to know people much faster without having to answer my son’s questions every other sentence!” Also, certain family activities—camping trips, train rides, game nights—can offer everyone more time to hang out and talk than guided tours or park days do.
For some new kids, it’s tricky to show up at park day where unfamiliar children are scattered in all directions. Many young SHGers use playground time to celebrate friendships they’ve made through hobby clubs or classes.
You might help your child build relationships by attending smaller or more structured functions at first. If you notice that your child has made a new friend or two, call them up before heading to the park so everyone has a familiar face to greet!
Try initiating activities. One SHGer notes, “When I first joined the group, I was too shy and insecure to even think about scheduling a group activity. I thought that because I was ‘new’ no one would want to come to anything I scheduled. It took me nine long months to get up the courage to coordinate something. The response was overwhelmingly positive and I felt extremely rewarded for my efforts. The group has a whole new feel for me now— I feel vested in the community.”
Think about what you and your children want most: Friends to play with at home? People who share a love of candle making? Other families who support the performing arts? Schedule an open house for dress-up, offer a wax workshop, or reserve a block of tickets to a musical. Advertise your event in the SHG Newsletter and give it extra publicity on the online forum/EM list. If your first idea doesn’t get enough takers, try not to get discouraged. Listen around to learn what needs are filled in people’s lives and what holes remain as friendship-building opportunities.
Join forces. Reach out to other newcomers and make yourselves at home together! Host an open house targeting new families with kids the ages of your own. Set up a Mom’s or Dad’s Night Out especially for parents of new families. You’re in good company!
Give community-building six months to a year. It takes time to get to know each other between travel schedules, rained-out park days, and conversations interrupted by trips to the potty. Stick it out and show up often, and one day you’ll realize you feel right at home.
As one SHG parent says, “Don’t be afraid. I’m naturally shy and I hate the feeling of forcing myself on others, but I made a huge effort to get to know the group. I felt I had to for the sake of my children, but really I have benefited just as much as they have from having made the effort. It’s well worth it, in other words. I love SHG and am so thankful that we found it!
Also, some folks recommend this article in Home Education magazine:
How to Join a New Homeschool Group - by Kathleen McKernan