Socialization is widely considered to be a concern for families as they start home schooling. Alachua County and the surrounding areas are blessed to have an incredible level of support for home schooling, one that many other districts in Florida do not share. Without a doubt, the best source of socialization and support comes from homeschool groups or co-ops.
Co-ops take on a wide variety of formats, but they all share a common purpose. They exist to support parents and provide social and educational opportunities to home-schooled students. There is no specific definition of a homeschool co-op. They can be formal groups with by-laws, a website, and a detailed registration process or be as simple as joining a Facebook group. They can serve families in one small area or serve the entire state, and they can be faith-based, secular or open to anyone and everyone.
Community Christian Homeschoolers
Founded in 1985, Community Christian Homeschoolers (CCH) is a faith-based homeschool co-op serving families in and around the Gainesville area. Their mission includes providing fellowship, encouragement, and academic enrichment to member families. CCH is a relatively large co-op serving more than 70. Members participate in as many or as few activities as time allows.
Some of the more popular activities include Book Bowl, the Homeschooling Hoot newsletter, spelling bee, field trips, science fair, park days and mom’s nights out. Families wanting to learn with each other regularly have the opportunity to join structured educational sub-groups through weekly or biweekly meetings where families learn science, social studies and other topics of interest in a collaborative, multi-age setting.
“I like being part of a co-op because it connects my family with other homeschooling families in the community,” said CCH member Rachel Barragan. “I also appreciate that it provides my daughter with an opportunity to participate in activities with other kids.” For more information about CCH, visit cchweb.org.
Gainesville Area Secular Homeschoolers
Gainesville Area Secular Homeschoolers, a Facebook-based homeschool group, started in 2012 and currently has more than 800 members. They describe themselves as “a non-discriminating homeschool support group/co-op in Gainesville.” This is an excellent resource for people wanting to learn more about home schooling in and around Alachua County. Members routinely post articles about home schooling, educational ideas, activities and events in our area, and opportunities specific to home schooling families. Members also share information about park meet-ups and field trip opportunities. Gainesville Area Secular Homeschoolers is one of the best places to learn about home- school classes, including those offered through Santa Fe College and the Alachua County libraries, as well as countless others provided by local businesses and other home-schoolers.
Florida Parent Educator’s Association
The Florida Parent Educator’s Association (FPEA) is the largest home-school group in Florida, serving tens of thousands of families across the state. FPEA offers support, guidance and information to home-schoolers to help them develop “academic and personal excellence by sharing resources, creating connections, enhancing relationships, and breaking down barriers.”
Each Memorial Day weekend, FPEA hosts the largest annual home-schooling conference in the nation. Open to anyone wanting to learn more about home schooling, it includes workshops, training, educational materials, activities for children and countless opportunities for home-schoolers to learn from one another. Membership to FPEA includes a bimonthly magazine, discounts to the annual conference, access to extended field trips throughout the state, and discounts to educational publishers and stores throughout the nation. For more information about FPEA, visit fpea.com.
While only three groups were profiled here, there are many others in the Gainesville area and throughout Florida from which to choose. Take the time to learn about each one and find the one that’s right for you. Other home-schooling families are your greatest source of support!