Friday, August 28, 2009

Resources in my 'hood, pt. 1

I've been getting several emails asking me about some home schooling resources that are local to central Massachusetts. There are many, but you have to do a little hunting. Massachusetts seems to be a bit different from other places, in that we have a very loose system of home schoolers. In other states, it seems like everyone belongs to some co-op or other (or several!). Here, there are various activities that home schoolers are involved with, some with other home schoolers, and some with the "general public." I think this is a good thing, since one of the reasons many people home school is to make sure their kids can relate to everyone they come into contact with, not just a classroom of their peers. It's easy to be tempted into filling your schedule so full of home schooling activities that there is no room for interacting with your community as a whole, and I think this is a mistake.

The first part of this list is going to be home schooling-only resources. Many of them are online, which in turn lead to face-to-face opportunities. In the Worcester area, where I live, there is not a face-to-face meeting group. But there are a couple of online groups, and if you are willing to drive a bit, there are some co-ops as well. Here we go:

1. Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc. or AHEM: This is a Massachusetts-wide website that is where every home schooling parent in MA should start. It has everything you need to get started, and can answer many, many questions a new home schooling parent might have specific to MA. They have a newsletter you can get by email, they have a list of homeschooling organizations, they list the laws in MA as well as articles about writing letters of intent and progress reports, etc.

2. Worcester Home Educators Network or WorcesterHEN: This is a Yahoo Group for home schoolers in Worcester. You can go on here and ask questions, or look for families with whom to get together, invite people to park days. There are announcements about activities, and a file where you can find Worcester's policies on home schooling.

3. LEAF Home Learners Network: This is another Yahoo Group, for southern central MA and northern CT and RI. This is a larger group than WorcesterHEN, and has many activities posted on it.

4. ALOHA: This is a group that is a little far for me to travel to, and I can't seem to find their website, but I think they are still active. I also think that this is something you might have to pay a fee for, maybe they have a co-op sort of thing going on. If you inquire at the LEAF group you might find some more info. They were located in Princeton, MA the last I heard.

5. Voyagers, Inc.: This is a group that is also a bit far from me. It's a co-op (involves fees, there is a scholarship program to help those who can't afford them), and has teen activities which seem to be popular. They are located in Acton, MA.

6. Think Tank Worcester: This is an organization that teaches classes about various topics, like astronomy, medieval history, botany, math. It seems to be for older kids, and some find their fees to be "limiting." It seems to be an excellent program, however, if you can afford it.

There are more, many more, but I think this list can get people started. I think even just going to the AHEM website can help open doors to other sources that can be helpful.

In my next post, I will discuss resources that are NOT home schooling specific, like area museums and farms, etc, that we have enjoyed through the years.