You aren't alone. Some people thrive on new experiences and interacting in groups. They're the kind of people who start homeschool cooperatives. But if you're anything like me, you'd rather stay home. It's not that we dislike people, we're just more comfortable with our current set of acquaintances. The idea of going someplace new and interacting with people we don't know can be stressful.
So how do you muster up the courage to try out a homeschool co-op? It takes significant effort to get out the door. We need to know it's worth the journey or we'll just make another excuse and miss it.
First, meeting with people can be encouraging. The Bible admonishes us to keep meeting together. Gathering with a group of like-minded people can have a profound impact on our desire to keep at it. We can share ideas and struggles, achievements and disappointments, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And through it all, we can be reminded that what we are doing is important, meaningful, and--ultimately--joyous.
Second, you could find a kindred spirit. Getting together with other homeschoolers gives us opportunities to meet people who could instantly become a fast friend. My mom often comments, after being around a group of Sonlighters, how so many feel like close friends right away. We're a unique breed, if you will, and so similarities abound. It's fun to chat with people who have similar interests and you may find a close friend or mentor.
Third, you may be challenged. We wouldn't grow much--or very quickly--if left on our own. As we come together--like the metaphorical body--our various strengths and abilities not only make us more effective as a group, but we can also learn from those who are different from us. I'm not very good at art, residing somewhere closer to the technical than the expressive, so I learn all kinds of fascinating things when I spend time with those who practice artistic expression. I also learn things from my friends who are more politically-minded, or have selected a different educational approach or focus. This is good.
Forth, you can get much-needed peer interaction. The other night, my wife and I drove down to hang out with my sister who was having a rough day. She twice commented how nice it was to have some adults with whom to talk. I've heard this often, actually. Since I spend my days at the office and not around one-year-olds, I can't relate. But watching my sister smile and chat, I could see that just being around other adults for a few hours here and there was nice for her.
We often talk about socialization in the homeschool world. If we, as parents, can't shake off the fears and baggage we've accumulated from our years of interacting with people whom society deems "well socialized," what are we saying? I get it. There have been times when I haven't felt super welcome in a group, or had a bad experience, or struggled through my tendency to be a homebody... but more often than not, even with the ups and downs of life, if I feel like I should check out a new group, I've been happy that I did.
Have you been to a homeschool co-op or support group? What did/do you like most about it? How would you encourage someone to check one out?
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
P.S. If you're still not convinced, check out the online version of something similar on our Forums.