"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." ~ Proverbs 27:17
Surround Yourself with Encouragement
Have you noticed how much easier it is to stick with something ~ a diet, your beliefs, a hobby ~if you are in it with someone else? A partner or group provide accountability and encouragement. Surrounding yourself with a community of homeschoolers will help you stay the course for the long haul.
There are numerous connection points for homeschoolers now, but at times you may see a need to start a group of your own. Go for it! The homeschool world appreciates your leadership. Look for existing groups locally, regionally, and online.
Meet-ups and Home Gatherings: You may know some homeschoolers who live near you. See if they meet regularly for fellowship or to discuss specific topics. Even sporadic home gatherings are encouraging and informative. Every family comes at an issue from a different perspective which can open your eyes to the possibilities out there and also help you determine your focus ("I'm glad that works for them, but it wouldn't work for us because...."). You can swap stories and resources and peruse curriculum and fill up your encouragement tank for the school months ahead.
Co-ops and Classes: Some families love the structure and social aspects found in a co-op or homeschool class. Many times the parents share the responsibilities for teaching and childcare and leadership, and the whole group benefits. Field trips are often arranged via this avenue. It can supplement your home teaching, and then you don't have to think about such things as art or music or Latin, especially if they aren't in your area of expertise. They do take time and commitment, but you may find it more than worth it.
Conventions: These large gatherings are a great reminder that you are not alone. Speakers provide knowledge and experience at workshops. Vendors provide every book or supply you never knew you needed. Going with a group of friends provides a great time of fun and fellowship. While all the booths and vendors can be overwhelming, going with a list will help you stay focused. Many times they have special pricing for conventions; plus you won't have to pay shipping. And the fact that you can browse through the books can be invaluable for determining if they are right for you.
Videos: You can now find workshops, conferences, and training on video through Youtube or ordering from homeschool websites. The cost is often cheaper than attending a convention and is wonderful for viewing with a group in your home.
Groups: Yahoo Groups or discussion forums supply a wider range of "we're in this together," especially if you need fellowship within your specific method. Moms who have older kids are valuable for sharing insight because they've been where you are.
Blogs: The blogging community adds regular content which can inform, encourage and humor. Many times they provide free lessons or worksheets as well as paid services which could be of great use to you.
Social Media: Is there anyone not on at least one of these: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest?! These groups can be great for getting questions answered quickly and finding out what's going on in the homeschool world. ("1/2 price tickets to the Medieval Fair on homeschool day!" "Kindle is offering a free e-Book today only!" "Who wants to get together at the park for a picnic tomorrow?")
Find the fellowship that works for you without overwhelming your life. A homeschooler could be gone every day of the week with the available options now. But homeschooling is not a lone man's game. Surround yourself with encouragement.
Go to Guidance