It was almost 30 years ago, back when homeschooling wasn't "legally recognized" in Iowa.
We used to host an annual hotdog roast and hayrack ride at our farm for homeschooling families in the area.
Keep in mind that this was back before we had Facebook -- even before we had email!
Many families homeschooled quietly, without drawing attention to themselves.
Even so, we usually had to line up three hayracks to hold all of the parents and children who showed up. In fact, we often had families come who we didn't even know! They had heard about the event by word of mouth.
Connections with Other Homeschoolers
NICHE (Homeschool Iowa) receives hundreds of requests every year for referrals to local homeschool support groups or co-ops.
Inquirers email or Facebook message us and ask how they can find other homeschooling families -- or activities where their homeschooled kids can meet and interact with other homeschooled kids.
NICHE (Homeschool Iowa) has a support group referral service available on our website.
Sometimes NICHE (Homeschool Iowa) is unable to offer a referral because we have no known group in a particular area.
And we do hear from folks who report that they can't find any other homeschoolers in their area.
Homeschool Socialization - Old Style
What do you do if you find yourself in one of those areas?
Well, back in my day, "when we had to walk five miles through snow and sleet" to homeschool... (Just kidding!)
Back in those early days of homeschooling -- before the law was passed, before there was email and Facebook, and before there were organized programs for homeschoolers -- homeschooling parents put together their own activities and let word of mouth spread the news.
I'm sharing that with you, not to imply that things were better then, but, rather, to encourage you.
NICHE (Homeschool Iowa) still hears from homeschoolers around the state who take the lead and put together their own opportunities for homeschool connection.
If you, however, find yourself in an areas where that's not happening, I hope you'll realize that you -- just like the homeschooling parents before you -- can put together opportunities for homeschool socialization.
Just a Few Examples
Here are just a few of the projects put together by homeschooling parents from the pre-email, pre-Facebook, pre-homeschool-law era.
You've already read about our annual hotdog roast. Eventually, some of the homeschooling dads even decided to butcher a hog and roast it themselves one year!
County Conservation Field Trips
One mom called the county conservation service and asked them to set up seasonal hikes for homeschoolers. In the fall, winter, and spring, the conservation officer would take our local homeschooled students on a hike through the same portion of a local conservation preserve, helping the children discover seasonal changes.
Student Book Clubs
Another homeschooling parent set up an informal book club for homeschooled students. Our teenagers all read the same book at the same time, and then met periodically to discuss it.
A homeschooling mom called the local quilting club and invited one if its members to come to her home and offer a quilting class for area homeschooled students.
Homeschool 4-H Club
We organized our own 4-H club -- with all of the club members being local homeschooled students. Club members had opportunities to offer presentations at club meetings, to work on projects to take to county and state fairs, and to produce detailed record books chronicling what they'd learned.
You Can Do It!
Homeschooling Mom or Dad, you can do this! You don't need to search for a program or seek out an activity that's already been organized.
One of the strengths of homeschooling in those early years was the "can-do" spirit of those pioneering parents.
We need that same self-service, cooperative effort today to keep homeschooling healthy and strong.
COUNTY CONSERVATION CONTACTS
Connect with your local county conservation department to set up an activity or field trip for homeschoolers in your area. Click on your county when you open the link below.
STUDENT BOOK CLUBS
Find ideas for starting a homeschool student book club.
Learn about the opportunities available through the 4-H program.