Have you found a local homeschool park day in your community? If you are a new homeschooler, please consider putting it at the top of your list of things to do.
Park day groups come in all forms, and most are free. Some have formal activities and rules, and others are based on an informal agreement that anyone who wants to will show up at a particular park at an agreed upon time so that parents can talk and kids can play.
Some offer field trips and holiday party days or potlucks if there are members willing to organize them. Some may even organize group campouts, although camping with one of the State groups, CHN or HSC, is probably more common.
Not all groups advertise. The statement of faith groups often get new members through their church or by private invitation. But, there are hundreds of other groups that happily welcome new homeschoolers and parents with preschoolers who are interested in learning more about homeschooling. They’ll often state that they are inclusive so that you’ll know that everyone is welcome.
Websites That Maintain Lists of Groups
- Homeschool Association of California (HSC)
- A2Z Homeschool (Ann Zeise)
- Homefires (Diane Flynn Keith)
- California Homeschool Network (CHN)
- Meetup (type “homeschool” and your city for a list of groups)
Groups come and go, change contact people (our kids grow up!), and even change how they communicate. Years ago, Yahoo was the most popular, and some groups also had websites. With the popularity of Facebook, some have moved there. That means you might find a broken link, an old email, or what appears to be an inactive group. Search online to see if you can find the group’s name and newest information.
Tips for Success!
Go next week if you can. The first time is the hardest, but do it anyway! If you are sitting next to someone who isn’t talking to you, introduce yourself. It might be her first day too!
Bring typical going-to-the-park things:
- A folding chair or blanket
- Snacks or lunch
- Jacket or sweatshirt, hat
- A toy to share – a game or a ball, perhaps, if you think it will help your child meet others.
- If you knit or crochet, feel free to bring a project to work on while you talk to your new friends.
If you have teens, you might have to go several times. Teens tend to go when they know other teens will, so you may need to talk to some of the moms and try to arrange for all of the teens to show up on the same day!
If you have a great first day, that’s wonderful! If it wasn’t so great, please try a few more times. I’ve seen enough shy or introverted homeschoolers at park days over the years to know that the old timers might be just as nervous as the new visitor. Keep trying, and you’ll soon be friends!