We learned from our mistakes. We established a five-member board, the same governmental form we use today. Also, to avoid further confusion, we developed a set of documents that defined our beliefs.

The following guidelines can help you get a support group started on the right foot:

1. Establish some form of leadership, such as a board or offices, to provide for division of labor. Write out your vision in a mission statement. Create a Statement of Faith to define your beliefs, and decide if members must abide by it or simply acknowledge it.

2. Devise a plan so that your meeting times will be effective. Our board members take a survey each year to determine the topics the group would like to cover. The board members then take turns planning and running our meetings, based on those topics. We keep minutes during each meeting to send to members who are unable to attend.

3. Choose a structure that works for the majority of families. Our group meets one evening a month. We leave the kids at home so that we are free to share openly. Both parents are welcome to attend, though for babysitting purposes, often only one parent comes. We cover essential topics such as understanding the law or testing and curriculum choices, and we revisit those periodically for the benefit of new members. More importantly, we spend time on the heart issues: building character, balancing homeschooling with a move or a new baby or an illness, and overcoming self-doubt. We share homemaking tips, articles, photos, laughter, and sometimes tears.

4. Bring God into every meeting and event through prayer and worship. As you honor Him and encourage your fellow homeschoolers, His mighty hand will guide and prosper your plans.

Since becoming part of a support group, I have been encouraged in countless ways. If I experienced discouragement or burnout, help was a phone call or an email away. Our monthly meetings recharge me for the task ahead.

My prayer is that my experience will encourage you to seek the support I believe is vital to make the most of your years at home with your children. Find a group or create one. I am ever grateful to my life support group for the encouragement to press on through the challenges and to pass on the blessing of support to others coming behind me.

Pamela Greer lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and teenage daughter. She has been part of the TEACH Homeschool Group for ten years, acting as president for two years. She edits the Washington Homeschool Organization’s bi-monthly newsletter. She spends her free time hiking, reading, writing, and encouraging new homeschoolers.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: March 22, 2013