How to Start a Homeschool Fellowship Group + Free Planning Templates & Guidelines

Published:
June 15, 2019

Carrie Fernandez

Contributor:
Carrie

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

So, you are looking for homeschool fellowship? As homeschooling moms, it’s just as important for US to find mom friends as it is to provide opportunities for socialization for our children. I want to share with you the practical steps that you can take to start a homeschool fellowship group, keep it low-stress, minimal work on your part, and build long-lasting relationships with other families. 

homeschool fellowship group

First, the difference between a homeschool fellowship group and a homeschool co-op:

There are homeschool co-ops galore and they are primarily focused on small group classes with a teaching focus. They can range from rigorous teaching, such as Classical Conversations to a Charlotte Mason style co-op with nature study, artist study, Shakespeare, etc. Many homeschool co-ops require parent involvement with teaching, some are teacher paid co-ops.

A homeschool fellowship group is none of the above. The sole purpose of a homeschool fellowship group is to build relationships and fellowship with other like-minded families. 

Here are the basic aspects of a homeschool fellowship group:

  • Committed families with at least one school-aged homeschooled child
  • Weekly park days (we call them Friday Fellowship Days)
  • Once-a-month field trips
  • Activity days (science fairs, oral book reports, world culture “fairs,” board game days, etc.)
  • Holiday parties
  • Mom’s nights out (MNO), possibly not what you are thinking

You can learn more about each below to get a better feel for how it flows. Instead of moms having to participate in teaching, such as in a teacher-led co-op, each mom is required to plan or assist in planning at least one field trip, activity day, or holiday party. This takes the stress off the leaders and gets everyone involved in the planing.

Sarah and I had a homeschool fellowship group for five years before we dissolved in 2012 in favor of a more broad, community-type of group involving hundreds of local moms via a private Facebook Group. That was back when Facebook Groups were relatively new.

It became like all other social media things – non-personal, non-committal, and completely unattached. Homeschool moms can be flaky (just keepin’ it real) and Facebook made it even easier to avoid any type of commitment. 

We were both desperately missing the friendships we built with our homeschool fellowship group in our early days of homeschooling, so we opened it back up and instantly had waiting list. 

If you cannot find a homeschooling group that focuses on fellowship, you can start one – with low-stress and minimal work on your part.

If you are looking for friends for yourself and your children and you want to be part of a homeschool fellowship group, it’s super easy to start one. Once we decided to start our homeschool group back up, we posted about it in the Facebook Group mentioned above. Within a few hours, 100 moms responded “interested.” Apparently we are not the only ones seeking true fellowship with other homeschooling families.

This Homeschool Group Starter Kit looks like a great resource if our free printables found below are not what you are looking for. 

homeschool group starter kit

Here’s how our homeschool fellowship group works and the steps we took to start it back up.

We require commitment.

You cannot be lax in this, if you do not make it known up-front that you have commitment requirements, then your group will be full of families who are no-shows. In order to have “fellowship,” you need to see one another on a regular basis.

Doing life together means so much more than being in a Facebook Group with other moms. When you see other families on a weekly basis you get to know them pretty well. Your children become friends. You start taking other moms meals when they are sick, your friends will come over and help you clean your house. You will join hands at the park and pray for one another – because you really know each other. Real fellowship is truly needed and such an encouraging part of a homeschool journey. 

We cap membership.

Remember when I said we had 100 moms mark “interested?” You may also recall that I mentioned homeschool moms can be flaky (come on, you know it’s true!). We scheduled an info night at my house and out of the 100 people who commented, 35 marked “coming.” Out of those, 25 moms attended. 

It just so happened that Sarah and I had previously decided 25 families was the max we could allow to join our homeschool fellowship group. Sarah was stressed because she didn’t want to have to turn anyone away. God worked it out perfectly.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding on how many families to keep your group capped at:

  • The size of your local parks and how many vehicles they can accommodate for parking
  • How many children are in each family
  • Consider overall-field trip opportunities in your local area and what the average maximum head-count might be

Statement of Faith

We require prospective members to agree to our statement of faith. This is a non-negotiable requirement for being a part of our group. We want families that are a part of our group to be like-minded with their beliefs. 

Moms Assist with Planning

Each mom is required to plan or assist with planning at least one event. All members are required to plan or to assist with planning one field trip, activity day, or holiday party. From experience, we know that the success of a homeschool fellowship group depends on the support and involvement of its members. 

Regular Meeting Days

We meet weekly for Friday Fellowship Days. Our homeschool group will meet for Friday Fellowship Days from September until May each year at a local park. We will rotate parks, one park each month. Park days are a relaxed day for our group. We will meet from 12-2 or 1-3 (we haven’t decided yet). Members can either bring a lunch or eat at home first. Moms will get to talk and fellowship with one another while the kids play. We will plan a separate “area” or activity for teens, such as kick-ball, board games, etc. Moms of teens will join together to make sure they are not bored or left out. 

Homeschool Field Trips

Once-a-month field trips will be planned. We try and keep our field trip days to Fridays when at all possible. A mom will plan a field trip and other families can sign up to participate. Field trip participation is optional. We seek to plan field trips that are free or low-cost to make it easier for everyone to participate. A field trip that is scheduled on a Friday will replace the park day, or we may offer both, depending on the amount of field trip sign-ups. 

Holiday Parties

We plan holiday parties. We have large group parties with food, crafts, games and sometimes book or gift exchanges. The holidays we plan parties for are:

  • Thanksgiving 
  • Christmas
  • Valentine’s Day (kids love exchanging Valentine’s Cards
  • Easter

Homeschool Activity Days

We throw in activity days in lieu of a field trip or park day every now and then. Fun activity days are easy to plan when everyone works together. You can do science fairs, spelling bees, oral book reports, world culture fairs (displays and food that represents a country), talent shows, etc. Again, we try and plan these on Fridays to replace a park day.

Mom’s Nights Out

We plan quarterly Mom’s Nights Out (MNO). Our MNO’s are not typical. We are not dressing up and going to fancy restaurants. We have done clothing swaps (we all bring clothing and sort by size and gender and then “shop” for free). It’s so much fun! We have also done curriculum nights where we bring our fave curriculum and lay it out for others to look through and ask questions about. Around Christmas time we get together for coffee/tea/cocoa and do an ornament exchange. We get to know each other and make real friends. It’s so nice!

Homeschool Group Rules

Come up with your rules. If you want to remain low-stress, the less rules the better. If you are strict with things such as dress-code and specific areas of conviction, for example, no Halloween talk, no mention of Harry Potter, etc. be prepared for tense moments and at times acting as a referee.

The first time around Sarah and I were more strict and it involved a lot of drama because there are many personality types and different convictions, even in a Christian group. This time around we are older and wiser and letting the Holy Spirit do His job in each individual heart. As long as the member agrees with our non-denominational statement of faith and they can meet the membership guidelines, they will be allowed in if there is a place for them. 

If you decide to start a homeschool fellowship group, these are the steps you can take:

  1. Find a partner/co-leader. This is important as you really need someone to be the co-leader with you.
  2. Decide on your meeting day and frequency.
  3. Make a decision regarding commitment. We did not put a number on it, we simply said we wanted members to plan on attending our Friday Fellowship Days each week, unless something important comes up. 
  4. Come up with a membership cap.
  5. Write out your statement of faith if you will be using one. Decide up-front if you will be flexible on this and stick to it. You will get people interested in joining your group who do not agree and you need to be prepared for that. 
  6. Post about your new group on any local homeschooling resource websites or in local homeschool Facebook Groups.
  7. Schedule an info night for interested moms and discuss what your vision is for the group. 
  8. Create a Google form for membership applications. 
  9. Create a Private Facebook Group for members to be added to.

Group Communication

We plan to be super low-key with communication and using a Facebook Group is much easier than setting up a website like we did the first time around. You can make it secret and add members individually so nobody can even find your group. Facebook Groups make it easy to post your events and store your files, etc.

Once you have your members, schedule a planning night.

Depending on the size of your group, you might want to find a local church or other facility to host your planning night. Finding a place that can host your entire group is also a huge benefit later on for activity days. 

Our planning night is for moms only, however we always allow nursing babies. 

Planning nights are fun, but can last a long time, so expect this. We will plan to meet from 6-10PM and eat together first. This year we will be doing a salad bar since so many of us have food allergies. We will get down to business at 7PM and try and wrap it up by 10PM. 

A list of things to have handy for your planning night:

  • Print a school-year calendar for each mom (small, at a glance calendars, not nine individual month pages).
  • Have the holiday dates listed out.
  • Create a list of local parks that will accommodate your group.
  • Create a master sign up sheet that includes columns for the month, meeting dates, field trip coordinator for the monthly field trip, planned activity day and/or holiday party along those who signed up to plan it, MNO, etc.

Assign a Notetaker

Be prepared to write down a lot of suggested field trip and activity day ideas. There may be moms who have multiple ideas but will not be planning them all, and others who have no idea what to plan and will appreciate the idea list. Perhaps you have a mom in your group who is passionate about something such as a talent show. This is when you will hash it all out for the entire school year!

Your field trip dates and activity days may change according to availability of such events, but your park days will be scheduled based on the day of the week you decide to meet. Your MNO’s can also be put on the calendar (we schedule ours for quarterly) as well as your holiday parties. 

Keep it Low-Stress

Starting a homeschool fellowship group is only low-stress if you decide up-front to make it so. If you tend to micromanage, just don’t. Allow your homeschool fellowship group to run itself with minimal guidance and participation from all members.

Homeschool Group Planning Printables

I created some basic planning printables for our homeschool fellowship group planning night. We start meeting the first Friday after Labor Day. I added our logo to our main calendar page that I will print off for everyone. This is what it looks like. This is our original logo from 2007!

hearts at home kids homeschooling group

Free Homeschool Fellowship Group Printables:

Planning Night Printables:

If you want to use our planning night template, you can download the Word Doc (for editing) or use the PDF. We used the orange color from our logo in the template, but also created a black and white version too. If you open it in Word, you can adjust the colors and fonts. 

Homeschool Group Guidelines:

You can use our guidelines as you see fit (just as they are or modified to fit your specific criteria) using this editable Word Doc file – be sure to look for {OUR HOMESCHOOL GROUP} and replace with the name of your group. You will also find one place to fill in {LEADER ONE} and {LEADER TWO} names.

Membership Application Form:

Membership Application Form (Using Google Forms) – Feel free to copy this form and use it for your group. Be sure to look for the same placeholders above to input your information. Don’t forget to link it to a spreadsheet (option with Google Forms responses) so your member info is organized for you automatically. 

Other ideas options to consider for your new homeschool group:

  • Create a homeschool group logo. You can find pretty logo font templates at Creative Market
  • Make t-shirts for your group for field trips (we did this one year by making tie-dye shirts in our logo colors).
  • Search for a “home base,” such as a church where you can host your indoor events (holiday parties, activity days, etc.)
  • Consider an end-of-the-year celebration, such as a display and awards night, or even a leveling up ceremony. 
  • Create a homeschool yearbook with the children in your group.
  • Assign a group “photographer” and have them take pictures at your events and meetings. You can use this at the end of the year to create a slideshow.

You can talk about all of those ideas at your planning night! Are you ready to get started? We think you will love your new homeschool fellowship group as much as we do!

how to start a homeschool fellowship group

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