How to make friends if homeschooled ? Well, let’s talk about that. My kids have been homeschooled their whole lives and are now teenagers, so we have much to tell. Every one of their friends was made outside school. Making friends and social interaction are not really the same thing as that grand word “socialisation” (Insert socialization if you’re American). But a lot of people don’t know that.
The process of socialisation is that of acquiring the beliefs and behaviours of your community, it is becoming socially acceptable. Rubbing the rough corners off and conforming. This post is about making friends for homeschooled kids or kids outside the school system, we’ll get there in a moment.
Homeschooled kids are usually not lonely at all. They simply have a different social structure to the school model and are none the worse for it.
Socialisation is not just hanging out with your mates.
But still, people like to ask “What about socialisation?”
It’s never happened to me or my kids, but I hear they do, constantly.
What people are really wondering is how to make friends if you are homeschooled.
Homeschooled kids do have friends. Homeschoolers make friends and meet people in exactly the same way as any adult, by being in the real world, joining in, and interacting.
Classroom forced association is not, at all, the same thing as natural, real-world, socialisation.
Real-world friends can be any age, be from any background, real friends do not come in age-segregated classes. School teaches us that friends have to be the same age. It’s not necessarily true.
We asked Kris to give us some ideas on socialisation or making friends for homeschooled kids. She has young children, mine are older.
We give ideas in this post for small children, tweens and teens.
These are some of the ideas and options she came up with for younger children along with the issues and rewards she is facing on her homeschool path.
Kris’s children are younger than mine, so I added a paragraph or two at the end that relate more to teens and tweens and our real-life experiences of the social expectations and experiences of homeschooled kids.
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How to Make Friends if Homeschooled
A list of ways homeschooled kids make friends and meet people outside school.
- Online groups, classes, games, and forums.
- Sports teams and group sporting activities.
- Meeting other kids in playgrounds, at the pool, at the beach.
- Playing with neighbors, family friends, and local kids
- Joining interest groups such as drama or photography.
- Travel or join tour groups
- Group lessons
- Choirs and Orchestras
- Local guided tours or special events.
- Classes and co-ops for homeschoolers, or for the general public.
- By leaving the house and mingling
- Homeschool events, camps, and get-togethers.
- Church, if you are religious.
- Volunteering, these are usually group events such as beach cleaning, or will allow you to enter an organisation, such as caring for stay pets.
- Stay in touch with old school friends.
This was Kris’s response to my question, how do homeschooled kids find friends? Kris is very new to homeschooling and her children are young. She has some good ideas below.
“But what about their education?” This is the response I get when I tell people about our decision to home school our kids.
Homeschooling is an incredibly viable and richly resourceful way to educate your children that people who still do conventional schooling find very hard to grasp. Home school options give us the capacity and ability to choose the best way to educate our children
We are fairly new to homeschooling in our family. I have 4 young children, the older 3 I teach at home after removing them from school 6 months ago.
It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but after much research and soul-searching, I believe that the education I can provide for them is superior to what they would receive at their school.
Homeschooling siblings makes us somewhat lucky because the kids get to interact with each other and learn from each other too. The younger ones have the advantage of learning higher than their level, and the older children get to teach the younger, which actually proves to be a valuable tool for learning and retention.
What I have found they are lacking though, is the opportunity to interact with their own peers. Although I don’t believe this is putting them at a disadvantage overall, a balance needs to be achieved here. After all, happy and contented kids are much easier to teach!
We all have that innate human need to have friends. I recently caught up with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in months, and it was so nice! I realised I hadn’t really spoken to anyone that I’m not related to in ages. Surely the kids must be feeling that too?
As wonderful as your brother and sister and mum and dad are to talk to, no-one quite gets a 9-year-old boy like another 9-year-old boy. You know?
As homeschool parents it is our responsibility to create a supportive and authentic network of people of all ages for our children to interact with and engage with. This teaches them how to problem solve, how to persuade, how to work through arguments, test theories, or simply being able to listen to and respond to other people’s ideas appropriately.
We have been exploring all the ways we can gain meaningful interactions for the kids whilst still maintaining our homeschooling environment.We even asked the kids for their input and together we came up with these possible home school options for socialisation.
Play Dates for Homeschooled Kids
We may have left school, but we still live in the neighbourhood so after school catch-ups with friends are still a possibility for our boys. We try to do this as often as possible, which with busy schedules ends up being around once per month.
Transactions in the World Outside School
An important thing I do with my kids is to make them do a lot of transactions with people in shops.
If they have a question to ask about whether a specific flavour is available or if they have a certain book they have to ask themselves. I send them into the corner store to buy milk and when doing so observe their skills growing.
This provides them the opportunity to communicate with others and learn how to get a result. They are polite and friendly and I love watching them interact with patient adults.
How to Make Friends Online-Long Distance Social Interraction
My 9-year-old enjoys playing Xbox Live, so we have hooked up a few of his friends and together they have their own Minecraft realm that they play.
Not face-to-face, but they still get to communicate and bond over their favourite things.
Extra-Curricular Sports Activities for Homeschoolers
Little Miss 5 does a weekly dance class and the boys enjoy playing soccer and karate for now, so they each get a once a week break from having to talk to me, and get to play and dance with their peers.
On random Saturdays, we often make it to the cable ski park as well so Master 9 can work on his wakeboard skills and meet some new humans.
Hang Out at The Library
The local library is a big part of our homeschool life.
We go at the same time every week, just before ‘normal’ school finishes for the day.This means we get an hour to ourselves before the library fills to capacity with heaps of excited school kids.My children always find a new friend or two on library day.
There Are Always People to Meet at The Playground
On the same theory as the library visits, we head to a local playground on a regular basis too.
Now our kids are little still, and there is going to be a time in the not too distant future when a playground just ain’t going to cut it, but for now, it does.
Sometimes there’s other kids there, often there’s none, but we still have fun either way.
The kids almost always get involved in games with other kids if the playground is busy. Mostly these will be fleeting friendships, but if the children live nearby, these friendships grow over time.
Find Friendly Families Camping
We love to go camping on weekends and jump at every chance we get.
Often we will invite friends who have kids similar ages to ours, or if it’s just us, the kids are always open to meeting new people while cruising around on their bikes.
Camping and playing in nature is a great way to meet new people and develop young imaginations.
Join or Start a Homeschool Community
Chances are, even if you sometimes feel like you are isolated and are the only one ‘doing it’, well, you are not.
There is probably a home school community in your local area and Facebook makes this easy to search.
If there is not one already, start a local page with a few simple clicks and invite others to join.
You can then get together to play when the school kids aren’t around, or organise classes, tours, and special events. Even just a day at the beach or a walk up a mountain!
Meet People as You Travel
Later this year we are taking our kids travelling overseas and there are a plethora of homeschool and world schooling families doing the same thing.
Join your Facebook groups, and then meet up with fellow like-minded travellers IRL (in real life!). This type of socialising is healthy not only for the kids, but for the parents too.
Find a Pen-Pal or E-Pal
Having a pen-pal or an e-pal (email) is a great way for the kids to talk to their friends without seeing them, and can even easily be incorporated into lesson planning too.
Homeschooled Kids Often Have Better Social Opportunities
Kids who are homeschooled actually often have much better socialisation skills at a younger age than their conventionally schooled peers.
This is thanks to the fact that they are interacting with a large range of different people – more adults and all ages and finding their own place within the world.
These interactions are incredibly valuable in weaving the fabric that will grow greater self-esteem and confidence which are such hugely important and valuable resources for them to have.
Home school provides options to develop these skills in a relaxed and friendly home environment. Our structure is flexible, and we love the adaptability, especially when incorporating our thematic curriculum.
It has been said that traditional school can actually result in detrimental and unsocial behaviour in some cases.
It is my hope that our homeschool experience will assist our children to develop the resilience and confidence needed to be valuable and contributing members of society as adults. “
How to Make Friends if Homeschooled – The Tweens and Teens
Thanks Kris, that was a great round-up on making friends while homeschooled or outside school. Now I have some things to add, because that’s how I roll. Kris forgot to mention homeschool groups. These were our lifeline with young children but in a lockdown world, my guess is that many are closed. Do try though, find out if your local homeschool groups are operating, get in touch, see what’s available.
My kids are older, teens and tweens now and yes, we employed all of these tactics when they were small.
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Don’t Force Socialising
I would stress not to force any of the above. I was a very shy, anxious child (you wouldn’t believe it now!), and being forced into clubs, social groups, or even shop transactions were painful for me.
If your child isn’t comfortable with that, please don’t push it. They’re just fine as they are.
My younger son was that way, he came along nicely, naturally, pushing him would have been unkind.
I wrote in our post ” New Homeschooler Mistakes I Made” how I signed them up for every extra curricular activity I could find, and how they didn’t enjoy them. Let them choose their own. It sounds like Kris’s kids really enjoy what they do and that’s perfect.
Making Friends Online
Don’t underestimate the value of online interaction, my teen and tween are forever chatting online, the world has changed and there are incredible opportunities for them in the online and gaming world.
One child is a moderator on a server, the other had to modify his language and behaviour dramatically to play on a Minecraft Christian server.
If that isn’t learning about teamwork, fitting in and persuasive skills, I don’t know what is.
Screen time is vital in the modern world and limiting and monitoring with apps isn’t the best plan. If your kids aren’t learning how to handle technology, they’re missing out on important skills.
Their teachers are also, now, part of their online social interractions.
Don’t Be Lonely – Get Out There!
The first step if you want to make friends is to put yourself where people are. Get outside, run, play, take the dog for a walk, go to the pool, volunteer, or put yourself in the thick of things online.
You will meet people. Nobody ever made friends sitting in the house reading a book.
We started volunteering with a local conservation group when my kids were small. My teen still goes on these trips today, knows the regulars, and meets new people every time.
For older kids – get a job! Work is a great place to meet new friends and acquaintances. Locally, kids can work from 14 years old if they’d like to.
Homeschool groups for older kids are thin on the ground where we are right now.
In London there were plenty, but here, no, all the kids in the groups are knee-high to a grasshopper. If older kids in a new area need to make social bonds, pick your area.
Go for somewhere with a bigger population and better opportunities. There should be football clubs, dance classes, fitness squads, all manner of social opportunities.
I read a sad post on Quora yesterday ” I’m a lonely 14-year-old homeschooled boy, how do I make friends?” By doing something about it!
Get up, stop the pity party, and get out there. But I’ll tell you this, there are plenty of kids in school who are also lonely, I was one. Don’t blame your situation, and if you don’t like something, fix it.
We all find the people we click with eventually, just as the majority find a spouse. I really want kids to not worry about this so much.
School can be brutal and socially isolating, the real world is far kinder.
I did actually check with my 14-year-old.
” Are you lonely?”
There was a bit more to the conversation than that but this is a kid who has, so it would seem, no friends and never leaves the house. He’s fine thanks. Very happy with how his life is set up, wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s delighted to be able to stay home and not be around people constantly – for a while.
Learn to be self-contained and self-reliant, there’s nothing wrong in that. In fact, it’s a wonderful life skill, to be free of FOMO and able to amuse yourself.
It’s quite likely that as your homeschooled kids age, they may start making moves towards formal online schooling or sitting exams.
This entered my kids’ lives during lockdown. We were confined and needed something more, so we joined an online school.
No, not a regular school trying to do classes online, that will never work, an actual online school set up for international and expat kids to work towards international subject exams.
There are many ways for older homeschooled kids to sit exams, receive tutoring, or formally study without being enrolled in a bricks and mortar school.
My kids suddenly had teachers and classmates to interact with every day. They were learning more about the diversity of humanity and how to be. It’s been fun for them.
They actually interact more with the teachers than they do with the other kids. They’re used to feeling comfortable talking to adults.
Take Classes or Tours, Join Groups
How about joining a cycling group, taking surfing lessons, learning pottery, or becoming a conservation volunteer?
Maybe join a group tour and learn something about your home town. There are many, many ways to put more people in your daily lives.
Never, for one moment, think that school is the only way to make friends. It’s simply not true.
Homeschooled kids don’t have to make friends with other homeschooled kids. There is a whole world of people out there. The more diverse your social group, the better.
Travel and Meeting People
I think the biggest contributor to my kids being well-rounded social creatures has been, as Kris said, travel.
Meeting people from all over the world, some transient meetings, some real long-lasting friends, with individuals of every background, culture, and age. It has been invaluable to all of us.
You can see our travel adventures on our travel Instagram account, it tracks our travels over almost 10 years, from 6 years old to adult kids. Do my kids look weird or lonely to you? They’re not.
Not every social connection has been positive, of course, they also learn how not to act. In the real world you’re not forced to share a school room with those people for years on end.
Travel also brought us together as a family. Had we not had so much time as a family unit I doubt we 4 would be as solid as we are today.
If you’re an older teen reading this, pack your backpack and hit the road. Thousands of solo travellers do this. Guess what? It’s how I met my husband.
A traveler’s lifestyle is highly social. You will also meet people and make friends when you join the workforce or it can even happen sitting in a café. Your friends do not, ever, have to come from school, nor even from childhood.
Online Dating for Teenagers
The world has changed so much in my lifetime. I know that my son will want a girlfriend soon. Would I be horrified if he looked for one on the internet ? No.
A good friend of mine is married to a guy she met online. It’s a possibility that his generation will see finding a partner online as the absolute best way to do it. But let’s wait and see on that!
Homeschoolers, Make Friends!
You can find Kris and family on the Gadsventure website above as well as on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I’m looking forward to seeing their travels and website take off. Best of luck and we hope, Kris and I, that you homeschoolers and homeschool parents find some of our ideas and experiences of how to make friends if homeschooled useful. My kids and I have lived it, I have an older teen and a young teen now. No, they don’t hang out in a gang with their mates, because they’re perfectly happy not to. But do they have friends? Yes, scattered all over the world as do I. Do they have social interactions in their lives? Of course. Do they take part in social activities with diverse human beings? Yes. Constantly. They’ve got life good.