A strong community is important for homeschooled kids, especially if they’re gifted or twice exceptional. This is why it matters so much and how you can find the right community for your family.
Thirteen years ago, when we first started homeschooling, we didn’t know any other families who homeschooled. There were a lot of homeschool blogs. There were websites and books that talked about homeschooling. But we personally didn’t know anybody who homeschooled.
We came into homeschooling because school wasn’t working out for our kids. It was not a situation that was going to be sustainable long-term. We knew we needed something different. We jumped into homeschooling almost blindly. It was quite the transition and I found early on that finding other homeschoolers helped me realize I wasn’t alone at the time, when every one of my family and friends sent their kids to school.
Community When You Are Just Getting Started Homeschooling
There’s something so valuable about talking to somebody in person or on the phone when you’re feeling lost and alone. I joined every online group I could find for Ohio homeschoolers. I joined playgroups and homeschool groups – as many as I could find.
At first it was intimidating, but as I kept coming back month after month after month, I began talking to people. My kids started making friends, which gave me an opportunity to talk to other parents. It was really helpful because we started making connections and that led to learning about other groups, field trips, enrichment co-ops and other meetup times.
Seeing the other families who had been doing it for a while, families with kids of all ages, some much older than mine, was encouraging. It gave me hope.
Homeschooling Community For Kids (and parents too!)
I think that it’s important to remember when we’re talking about finding community that it’s not just for our kids. It’s not just for us. It’s a holistic thing for the entire family.
Homeschooling is parenting and parenting is hard, right?
It’s relentless. You care more than anybody else could ever care about your own children. You work so hard to get it right. It’s really difficult and sometimes it’s discouraging. Sometimes you feel like you’re failing at everything. Homeschooling is like parenting on steroids because now, not only are you responsible for all the social and emotional needs of your children, and all of their physical needs, but you’re also responsible for the educational needs of your children too.
By having support, and, at the very least, knowing you’re not alone, it helps you get through the next step and the next, and then the next.
Homeschool Co-Ops and Gifted Children
We’ve tried different kinds of co-ops. We’ve tried ones that were very structured and had all of the academic curriculum lined out for us. We went for the classes once a week and we did assigned school work in between co-op days.
We have also participated in co-ops that were more for enrichment, rather than academics. We did classes like the science of slime, a wilderness survival class, life cycles, art, and music.
Homeschooling offers a lot of freedom. You have a lot of opportunity. Over the years, we made close friends through those opportunities. But not all co-ops worked well for our specific needs. For example, the academic co-ops were not a great fit. The asynchronous needs of my children made this type of co-op difficult on many levels. The enrichment classes however worked very well.
Homeschool communities and groups have played an important role in our journey so far by providing us with a chance to form a community. We have some lifelong friends that we’ve met through these groups.
The Gift Of Like-Minded Families
In the past, we have also chosen not to attend a specific co-op and instead planned more casual field trips and playdates with one or two likeminded families. Some of our best homeschooling memories have come from this type of community.
It’s important for us to find families that we click with. It’s important for us to find safe families who “get” our kids and appreciate who they are.
It’s also important for us to realize and recognize when a group isn’t working and be brave enough to leave that group and either find another one. Our kids are different. Our kids are differently wired, which means they’re going to look different to others, especially families who have only neuro-typical children.
There’s value in finding families who understand and accept our children.
A Community Specifically for Neurodiverse Kids and Their Families
Because it can be so difficult to find these like-minded families, I created The Learners Lab.
The Learners Lab community was created specifically because my kids needed connections with other neurodiverse kids. I wanted them to have opportunities to meet up with children with similar interests and needs.
The Learners Lab is particularly great for families who have quirky, outside the box, gifted and twice exceptional kids. They need the connection to other kids who are quirky too. It gives them a chance to see that perseverating on a particular topic isn’t abnormal because there are other kids in there doing the same thing. It’s also great for kids who do a lot of imaginative thinking.
The Learners Lab Connects Your Family To Community
In The Learners Lab, we do creative thinking classes. We have meet ups that are divided by different age groups. We are even launching a Learners Lab Minecraft server. We have an online forum safe for kids, to allow them to discuss and share all of their various passions and interests. We also offer opportunities for parents to learn and to connect with each other.
Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast #156: Why Community Is So Important For Gifted And Twice Exceptional Kids
In this episode, Colleen shares the unique role that community plays in the life of a gifted and twice exceptional child. She discusses why it matters and how to go about finding the right community for your family.
Links And Resources From Today’s Show:
- SPONSOR: The Learners Lab
- Supporting The Social and Emotional Needs Of Gifted And Twice-Exceptional Kids
- The Best Advice I Can Give You: Become A Student Of Your Child
- RLL #89: Helping Our Gifted Kids With Social and Emotional Struggles
- Finding Homeschool Community (for our children and ourselves)
- Homeschool Curriculum for Your Asynchronous Gifted Learner
- The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Gifted Children
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