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How to Get the Word Out?

Start Your Own Local Homeschool Support Group

by Shay Seaborne

No comfortable homeschooling support group in your area? Take heart! You can start one very easily, on a shoestring. Here is how three moms and I began our Local Homeschool Support Group, when we couldn't find a support group in our area that served our needs.

Create a Vision

Our earliest task was to define what we wanted — which turned out to be very important in staying with our vision, when it was questioned by newcomers. We chose a name and began to spread the word. I made a one-page flier, announcing our group, giving an idea of its "flavor," and providing contact information. The name and contact information are repeated in tear-off tabs along the bottom of the paper.

These have proven popular with for busy homeschool parents. Each month, I take copies of the flier to the library. For greater coverage at slightly more cost, post the fliers at area bulletin boards at community centers, groceries, gymnastics and dance studios, karate dojos, bagel bakeries—any place that be frequented by children. I keep a small stack of fliers—and some tape—in my car, for impromptu postings.

The first- and easiest place to promote has also been our best exposure: the public library system. Our friendly library system happily distributes fliers to each of the 10 branches in the system. We also listed the group in our library system's computer database of area organizations.

Another way to obtain low-cost publicity is through the Calendar of Events listings in local newspapers. The latest promotional help I have found is the CapWiz "Media" feature at Congress.org. Enter your ZIP code, select the media you wish to reach, insert your press release, hit "send" and you reach multiple media at once!

Create a Website FREE

The web has been a big part of our success. 12 Point Design offers free, easy-to-use websites for homeschoolers. Blogs are especially popular right now. See A to Z Home's Cool for tips on creating your own site.

The website saves answering those same questions over and over; I simply point folks to the site and tell them they're welcome to call me back if they still have questions. If you'd like an easy and free way to manage your support group mailing list, sign up at Yahoo! Groups.

LocalHS is a great place to announce your group to the world. Support group listings are free! The LocalHS submission form is easy to use. Most statewide organizations offer free support group listings as well.

Set the Meeting Agenda

Our monthly meetings were usually roundtable discussions. Topics were chosen by members in attendance at the prior month's meeting. For instance, one month 3 people wrote ideas on the "Meeting Topics?" column in the sign-in sheet. One wrote "Preschoolers," another "Ideas for Teens," and a third, "Teaching Mixed Ages." So our next topic was "Homeschooling Various Ages: preschoolers, teens and mixed groups." Such a meeting format takes little preparation on the part of the coordinator.

Our first year we had a weekly playground date, which got things rolling. Now there are several Play & Learn groups, and folks get together as they meet each other and find common interest.

Our field trips are as-planned. Some folks in the group plan many, some a few, and others have never planned any group activity. It works out fine most of the time; we usually have something in the works. For the first year, though, I found I had to pour myself into the group and plan a large portion of the activities. People had to see what can be done, and needed encouragement. I don't worry about a lack of activities now; the members are responsible for the group's activities.

Starting your own group can be very rewarding. Give it a try!

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© 2003-2009, Shay Seaborne, All rights reserved.