Help for Homeschoolers

In the past few weeks I’ve had a few reader questions about homeschool resource groups/homeschooling in general/homeschool curriculum.  I’m not an expert, but I’m sharing what I know.  If you are someone that finds homeschooling offensive or dumb, you’re welcome to stop reading 3 sentences ago 🙂 For those of you that would like this information, please continue on.  

This year I became one of “those crazy homeschool people”.  Yup, that’s me.  “Kristina That Crazy Homeschool Person”.  It’s on my business cards.

In the process, I learned that a great deal of whether or not you succeed has to do with both your personal commitment to excellence, whatever your definition of excellence may be, and your successful implementation of a support system.  
Without boring you with too many details we are primarily a classical-model homeschool family, although we do use a more worksheet-based math program (Singapore).  If you’d like to hear more about how we homeschool (and please note that I’m not expert, it’s only been 1 year!), or why we homeschool, I’m happy to share those details with you via email.
That being said, no matter your approach, there is a group of people out there that want to help you succeed and your child thrive.
I.  Prince William County Public Schools
I actually cannot comment on whether they care if you succeed or not, but I can tell you that they need to be your first stop.  PWC requires you to fill out an “Intent to Homeschool” form.  This is NOT A MASTER’S THESIS or a senior dissertation.  They just want to know how you’re filing (parental ability, correspondence program, religious exemption, medical necessity, whatever) and what curriculum you’ll be using.  You don’t need to submit a lesson plan, a manifesto on why you’re homeschooling, or copies of your textbooks.  You will need to provide proof of progress, and re-file each year.  Additionally, you should know that middle and high-school students are permitted to partially enroll in up to two classes, and that partially-enrolled students who meet all other requirements may participate in after school activities and sports, excluding VHSL sports, but including Varsity Club.  
II.  Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers and Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
Both of these groups offer support, information, and advocacy.  HSLDA is a great resource if you run into resistance, or are interested in increasing homeschool access to tax-provided resources. I did not need to use my HSLDA membership this year, but had a friend who was very happy to have it in dealing with a particular issue. 
III. Homeschool Groups, Christian
You don’t need to be religious to homeschool, but I know that many people are.  I’m breaking it down, therefore, by groups that you may want to include or disclude yourself from depending on your family situation.
**Classical Conversations is both a curriculum and a highly-developed and dependable co-op with paid directors and trained tutors.  It’s international, so if you move frequently, this may be a good option as the entire CC world is doing the same thing at the same time, so moving families can just plop in right where they left off.  Fees vary by campus.  There are several campuses in our area and the range from 4’s-High School.
**FISHE offers soccer, testing, monthly meetings and more.  It is inter-denominational. 
**LDS Homeschoolers serves greater NOVA homeschoolers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
**REACH is Christian-led but open to anyone, and focuses on field trips and conferences. 
**WHEAT offers classes, testing, field trips, coops and parent support.  
IV.  Homeschool Groups, Religious, Non-Christian
**Heathen Homeschoolers, primarily for those that identify as Pagan, Agnostic, UU, but atheists and agnostics, and label-defyers are welcome, too. 
**Jewish Homeschoolers of DC, MD, VA
**Online support groups are available for everything from Adventist-Zoroastrian (okay, maybe not Zoroastrian, but I needed a Z!) on the VA Homeschool Website
V. Homeschool Groups, Secular, Humanist and/or Atheist
**VA Eclectic Homeschoolers‘ only rule is there is nothing political or religious allowed, but anyone may join and there is no particular method or ideology required of members. 
**VA Homeschool Resources is open to people of any background, and provides information about the entire state of Virginia and resources for various groups. 
**VA Homeschool Atheists is open to any atheist, agnostic, or secular humanist homeschoolers. 
**VA Gifted Homeschoolers is secular and inclusive for parents homeschooling gifted children in the DC Metro area
**NOVA TAG is a secular group for parents homeschooling “Talendted and Gifted” children.
**Quantico to Fredericksburg Homeschoolers is a secular group for families with at least one child over age 6.  Younger siblings are welcome, but this is NOT a preschool playgroup. 
VI.  Homeschool Sports Leagues
**Virginia Homeschool Runners
**VA Lions Football and Cheerleading
This is by no means an exhaustive list!! Hopefully, though, there are enough groups on here to get you started!  If you’re a new homeschooler, my best advice is to read and figure out who your family is and what approach you’re taking before you get involved in any groups so that you are staying true to your mission, and not being swayed by more experienced homeschoolers who can make any method sound perfect, which it may be for their family, but may not be for yours!  Also, don’t over-book yourself! In our area it can be easy to take a field trip every day, but try to start with one group and see if it’s meeting your needs before you move on. Or don’t, I could be wrong.
Have additional group or ideas? Leave a comment below.