If you are a secular homeschooler you know exactly how hard it can be to find local homeschool families, especially if you live in a more conservative area. The good news, though, is that no matter where you live, there are many options to find a secular homeschool group near me.
How Can I Find a Secular Homeschool Group Near Me?
There are many ways to find secular homeschool support and social opportunities. These can run the gamut of very formal organizations to just a group of moms getting together with their kids.
The first place to start when looking for a secular homeschool group in your location is a simple Google search. Try searching “secular homeschool group near me” or “secular homeschool group (insert your location)” and just see what comes up. If most of the groups near you are more loosely organized, you might not find many helpful results.
Next, I would check social media. Again, simply search the phrase “secular homeschool (location)” and see if anything comes up. You can also try using the phrases Home Educators or Home Education instead of homeschool.
SEA Homeschoolers & Social Media Groups
If you don’t find anything specific to your location make sure you head over to the SEA Homeschoolers Facebook group. In the resources section you will find other Facebook groups for each state.
If you already know the curriculum you will be using then you can search for groups specific to it as well. For example, Build Your Library secular curriculum has a whole system of groups for each level. If there are others in your area using the same materials then you can create a local group.
If all else fails – use the classifieds. I’ve moved several times since beginning our homeschool journey and each time I have simply posted in the local Facebook Classifieds and asked if there were other secular home school families in the community. (Obviously, practice safe online behaviors here.) Each time I’ve been able to meet other secular homeschoolers – even in very rural and conservative areas.
Are there Clubs for Homeschool Students Near Me?
Depending on how large your homeschooling community is, there may be many homeschool clubs or activities for homeschoolers near you. These clubs could include sports such as homeschool basketball teams, soccer teams, tennis, fencing, etc. There might also be local homeschool art classes, chess clubs, running clubs, and so on.
You can also inquire about options with your local public schools. It might be possible for your homeschooled student to participate in after-school clubs at the school district but this varies greatly across the country.
You can also participate in local private clubs such as soccer, chess clubs, Lego clubs, etc. Private clubs do often require some type of registration fee or tuition.
What Does Hybrid Homeschool Mean?
Hybrid homeschool can be a great support for your family. Again, the exact options and structure will depend on your local school district. I have lived in 3 different states and 5 different school districts and every single one has been different.
A hybrid homeschool usually keeps the majority of classes at home, being taught by a parent. Then for some classes (usually electives) your student can go through a charter school or take part-time classes at the local public school.
We currently use a charter school that works specifically with homeschoolers. My kids can attend a few classes at that school but the rest of the week we are home together.
If the hybrid homeschool is run through the school district then the classes will be secular in order to meet public funding requirements.
What is the difference between Home Education Groups and Homeschooling?
Honestly, in my opinion, this is a matter of semantics. When we say homeschooling some people automatically think of little desks and a blackboard in the living room – or a literal school at home. People who favor the term home education tend to think of the home learning happening all throughout the day in a variety of environments. Personally, I call us homeschoolers but we do school mostly at the kitchen table, on the couch or laying on the floor. There is always a cat or three nearby as well.
Are there Social Groups for Secular Homeschoolers?
Similar to clubs, social group availability will depend largely on your local community. Some groups of homeschoolers will do the social events they feel their kids are missing from public school such as holiday parties, dances or games. When I first started homeschooling I quickly learned I was not really a co-op kind of mom (too much structure!). I just wanted something somewhat educational, fun for the kids and not stressful for the moms. So I started a field trip group with 2 friends and their kids. We met every Friday and did a low-key field trip together. Those days were honestly some of the best of my homeschooling career. If you need some field trip ideas I wrote about that here.
Social opportunities can become harder as your kids get older so if you aren’t finding an outlet that suits your student and your family, then you might need to start your own. If there aren’t many secular homeschoolers in your area this can be daunting. I promise, you won’t be the only one feeling this gap.
How Can I Build a Secular Homeschool Community?
To be clear – I believe STRONGLY in setting a wider table and exposing my kids to people of all religions, cultures, and belief systems. Currently, in many homeschooling communities, the norm is faith-based and it can be challenging to join the local homeschool basketball team when half-time consists of a Bible study. It’s not exactly my jam to go on a dinosaur field trip only to be told the fossil record and carbon dating is fake news. Due to this, it is nice to have a secular homeschool community locally where you can feel free to be your true self.
Use Your Voice
I promise you are not the only secular homeschooler in your area, even if it feels like it some days. However, because the norm is faith-based, it is common for the other secular homeschoolers to be silent or not participate in social media discussions. That means SOMEONE has to start the conversation and it may as well be you!
If there is a general homeschool Facebook group in your area, begin joining the discussions. Let others know you are there and make it clear not everyone in the group shares a similar opinion. For example, in my local group it clearly states politics are not to be discussed. But then the admin started making posts about recall petitions for our governor. So I commented that this wasn’t the place and I thought there was no politics in this group? The behavior didn’t change but at least they knew I was there. Once I made a comment then a few others slowly started joining in.
My top tip in creating a secular community is to be clear about your social and educational boundaries. If you look at the SEA Homeschoolers page, there is no waffling about what type of educational resources they provide. When creating your own group you can follow this model.
I created a secular group locally after someone made a post about Outschool pushing the “LGBTQ agenda”. I was furious and quickly commented on that post but then also just started an unapologetic secular group. The group description clearly states we are secular, affirming and inclusive. Overnight I had 30 families join the group. I had been living in this community for a year and had met only one other secular homeschooling family prior to this. (And hey if you’re looking for a secular homeschool group in Western Colorado – come join us!)
Families of faith are welcome to join our secular homeschool group but discussions are focused on the secular homeschool experience.
Be clear about what secular will mean for your group. I follow the SEA Homeschoolers guidance about “neutral” curriculum discussions. Be clear about the group expectations and what your vision for the group is. Will it remain online support only? Will you get together for field trips or do activities together? How will you communicate – in a social media group? Meetup? Text?
Where Else Can I find Secular Homeschool Support?
Although there are other national homeschool organizations, the majority are religious-based. Your local school district can offer support to secular homeschoolers by providing educational materials, allowing students to participate in extracurricular activities or take part-time classes.
If you have a local college or university, contact the Education Department. They may be willing to provide homeschool PE classes or other subjects. These are great because it gives the college students real practice and it gives your family another connection with the community.
I know the task of finding a homeschooling community can be overwhelming, but you are definitely not alone. Use your community resources to build what you need. Soon you will have a thriving secular homeschool group near you!