How to Make Friends, Meet People and Socialise if Homeschooled
“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 of whom 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.
Online Social Interraction
Master 9 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. “
Thanks Kris, that was great, now I have some things to add, because that’s how I roll.
My kids are older, teens and tweens now and yes, we employed all of these tactics when they were small.
I would stress though 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.
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.
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 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 team work, 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.
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, or put yourself in the thick of things online. You will meet people. Nobody ever made friends sitting in the house reading a book.
Homeschool groups for older kids are thin on the ground where we are right now. In London there are 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.
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 off your butt, stop the pity party and get out there. But I’ll tell you this right now, there are plenty of kids in school who are also lonely, I was one. Don’t blame your situation, blame yourself and if you don’t like something, fix it. 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.
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.
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.