(Elissa Wahl) – By now you probably know someone that homeschools, or know of someone who knows someone….but are you still falling for that old myth of “What About Socialization?”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of homeschooled children has grown over the past decade from 850,000 to over 1.5 million. And this number is actually rather conservative, as there are whole states where homeschoolers do not have to register.
As the numbers grow, so does the amount of active, involved parents, leading to more homeschool support groups and activities. Here in Clark County we have over 40 homeschool support groups…some averaging 150 families. Support group activities differ – some have monthly parent’s meetings, park days, teen groups, educational classes – but most have field trips & activities.
There is a homeschool support group, or two or three, out there for everyone. Some are based on geographic sides of town, some on religion, some are based on curriculum choices, and some are open to everyone. Most groups encourage families to join more than one, to find where their family’s needs are best met.
My family is active in three of those 40 support groups.
Two of the three offer monthly parent’s meetings, which I enjoy. One offers elementary academic classes one day a week. Another has a teen group with an academic component where the teens meet once a week for various classes – and also a social component with planned activities varying from service projects to formals. The third group is one I co-founded and it is inclusive, but does not have a “home base”…meaning it’s not out of a church, etc. It’s solely member-run and organized through the use of a Yahoo Group.
Even if a family chose not to join a support group, there are many city-wide activities to partake in for homeschoolers. This is a growing market and many businesses recognize it and offer great deals during the day!
We have City-Wide Homeschool Roller Skating every 3rd Friday at Crystal Palace (Rancho location) and City-Wide homeschool SkyMania day every First Friday. We’ve also had ongoing city-wide ice skating days, PE days, rock climbing days and more.
Sometimes there are activities that are one time events, but open to all homeschoolers. Last summer the US Space and Rocket Center sent their nationally known Space Camp program out to Las Vegas, for a week catered to homeschoolers. The kids got to attend a full week of the Build-A-Shuttle Program, culminating in a full re-creation of the Space Shuttle, International Space Station and an orbiter. It was amazing!
The only downside to all of this growth is there is not currently a homeschool resource facility in Las Vegas. We are seeing a growing need for such a facility as homeschooling grows.
The support group I founded would love such a building. Because we have no “home” we tend to use parks and people’s homes. If weather situations arise, or too many people RSVP to any one event, things can become chaotic.
It is very hard to find enough space for some events, and even harder to find affordable space. I see this happening even in the support groups that have a “home”, because our needs as homeschoolers are becoming so great.
Recently, I teamed up with a few other women who see the same need – a Homeschool Resource Center in Las Vegas. We have formed RISE Resource Center, whose mission is to provide a facility and resources to support educational choice. We are actively pursing a facility rental in the hopes of being able to accommodate homeschool support groups, co-op classes, one time rental needs, assemblies and more.
When the facility is a reality, it will also house a Library and Resource Center. New or interested families can come in and see the various curriculum choices before spending money; books and educational equipment can be borrowed; and manipulatives can be played with and used in classes, etc.
With the advent of such a facility, we will see support for homeschoolers grow and, therefore, homeschooling itself will continue to grow and flourish! Myth be gone!
(Elissa Wahl is a homeschooler and co-founder of the Nevada Homeschool Network. For more information, please visit www.nevadahomeschoolnetwork.com or contact Elissa at email@example.com)