Homeschool Forums: An Alternative to Social Media
Do you want to spend less time on social media or even leave it entirely, but still have an online community to connect with? Forums are an excellent alternative to social media, especially for homeschool parents. People often believe that forums are an outdated communication method or that Facebook groups have entirely replaced forums. While forums have fallen in popularity, many are still alive and well. As frustration with social media grows, I wouldn’t be surprised if forums make a strong comeback.
What I Like About Forums
Facebook and Instagram can be great for keeping in touch with friends and family and sharing pictures. I like Pinterest for finding craft ideas and recipes. If you’re into following what’s currently trending, there’s Twitter. There are also countless other platforms I haven’t even tried yet. However, when it comes to discussing homeschooling and connecting with other parents, forums have so much more to offer than any of the social media platforms.
Organization – Forums are organized by topic, making it easier for you to find the information you need or conversations that interest you. In a homeschool forum, you’ll typically see various subforums for different topics such as academic subjects, age ranges, homeschooling methods, parenting, general chitchat, etc.
Archives & Search – Threads in a forum are archived and are easy to find through search. So, if you want to look back at a discussion about a particular math curriculum from years ago, you can. Finding a specific conversation on Facebook from even a few weeks ago can be challenging.
Longer, Deeper Discussions – Because of how forums are organized, it is much easier to keep up with multiple discussions over an extended timeframe. I have seen threads in forums continue to get comments years after they were posted. When someone asks for advice, it’s not uncommon for them to give an update or have others ask what the outcome was weeks or months later. However, on social media, posts are quickly buried, and everyone is on to the next thing.
Anonymity – Forums are one of the few places online where it is socially acceptable not to use your real name. This makes it easier to protect your family’s privacy. You may also feel more comfortable discussing certain topics as SoccerMom00 in a forum than as Jane Smith on Facebook or Twitter, where everyone from your great-aunt to your neighbor will be reading along and chiming in.
Moderation – A well-moderated forum will have clearly stated rules that are enforced fairly. This often, but not always, causes there to be less abuse and bullying than on social media. It also reduces the chance that you will unintentionally do something to get banned or be banned for no reason.
No Algorithm – On a forum, you, not the social media platform’s algorithm, decide what you see. On many social media platforms, the algorithm prioritizes some posts while limiting who sees other posts. On a forum, you won’t waste your time writing something only for it to be hidden.
Censorship – No platform owned by someone else will ever be 100% free of censorship. However, forum owners have much less pressure or incentive to censor content to suit the needs of government or corporate entities.
No Mindless Scrolling – Forums don’t really lend themselves to the same endless scrolling that can be easy to get sucked into on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People typically come to forums for discussion, not to get likes or share viral posts, memes, and click-bait.
Uniqueness – Each forum is one-of-a-kind. The owner of a forum has complete control over the format, rules, etc. While every group on a specific social media platform will have a similar layout, forum owners are able to customize things specifically for the community they serve.
Now that we’ve talked about what forums have to offer, you probably want to know where to find forums for homeschool parents. The forums below are all free to join:
The Well-Trained Mind Community – This is one of the largest and most active homeschool forums. While The Well-Trained Mind sells classical homeschool curriculum, this forum is also widely used by many people who use other curriculum and methods of homeschooling.
Simply Charlotte Mason Forums – While this forum’s main focus is on the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, you’ll also find plenty of general homeschooling discussion. This forum is also fairly large and active.
Homeschool Speak – Homeschool Speak is a newer and growing homeschool forum. It’s very well organized and has subforums for all of the main styles of homeschooling & academic subjects, parenting, marriage, special needs, and much more.
Homeschool World Forum – This is a smaller forum compared to the others but is still a good option. It is organized into several subforums, making it easy to find discussions on almost any homeschool-related topic.
Ambleside Online Forum – Ambleside Online (AO) is a free Charlotte Mason curriculum. Their forum’s primary purpose is to discuss using AO’s curriculum and the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. This forum is very active and often includes the discussion of other more general homeschooling topics.
Moving Beyond the Page Forum – This forum is specifically for parents who use or are considering using Moving Beyond the Page’s curriculum. If that’s you, this forum is a great place to share information with other homeschooling parents.
Time4Learning Parent Community & Forum – The purpose of this forum is to support users and prospective users of Time4Learning’s curriculum. However, you will also find some discussions related to general homeschooling.
Your Morning Basket Community – This is a Christian community of homeschool moms who seek to connect with and support each other throughout their homeschool journeys. The community uses Mighty Networks rather than a more traditional forum format.
The Scholé Sistership Network – The Sistership Network is a place for Christian homeschool moms to gather and pursue their own education through conversation with like-minded women. This community is also on Mighty Networks. While they offer paid membership plans, you can join the community with the free plan.
Sibling Relationship Lab Partners Community – This community is a place for Christian parents to discuss parenting and sibling relationships. While it’s not specifically for homeschoolers, homeschooling is also discussed.
Let’s Help Homeschool Forums Grow!
Share this post on social media to spread the word about alternatives ways for homeschoolers to connect online. And if there are any homeschool forums I missed, please comment below.