Q&A: Will my homeschooled child have friends?
“I’m not a homeschooler just yet and I have a couple of questions. What about the socialization part of school…won’t my child miss out on developing meaningful friendships?”
The more I looked for the answer to this question the more obvious it became to me: Homeschooler’s have as full a social life as they choose to. Homeschoolers spend the “school day” in the non-stressful and learning-friendly environment of their homes with the best teachers they could have: loving parents. When the “school day” ends, friends show up and the phone begins ringing, just like in any other household.
Besides, the public school environment isn’t a place where children are allowed to openly socialize anyway. They are told when, where, and how to interact. I’ve found that the friendships homeschooling children develop are just as rewarding as public schooled children's. There isn’t any note passing during class, just playing with friends when “school” is over. I was thrilled to learn that my son wasn’t going to be a social outcast. Who would’ve guessed…kids will be kids even if you homeschool them!
To encourage socialization, one “school day” a week I take my son out with his playgroup on an adventure. We formed our playgroup from a homeschooler’s support group I found in the area. I met parents in the group whose children were the same age as my son. I was surprised to find that other parents were just as eager as I was to spend time with other homeschoolers. It didn’t take long to organize trips to the library, beach, park, or even the local coffee farms. The parents talk about the latest week’s adventures while our children play. It’s important to realize that these outings are as much for the parents as they are for the kids. Everyone needs friends! Read our article Lonely? How About Your Kids? for more ideas on how to incorporate socialization into homeschool for both your kids and yourself.
Here’s a list of great places to take your children:
Fire station, library, park, beach, zoo, airport, museum, governor’s office, police station, farm, factory, sporting events, local industry (bottling factory, wood mill, steel mill) parent’s work place, seniors’ homes, and any kind of outdoor activity (hiking, skiing, etc.). The best thing to do is find out what you have in your area and use the resources at hand. You’ll be surprised at what's out there!
Pick activities that match your child's age and maturity level.
The younger your children are, the more relaxed these activities need to be. Toddlers really can’t handle the library, but the park and beach are perfect. Older children can have a great time at the library, local farm, museum, or even the fire station. With younger children, you can add education to the fun by just keeping things simple. For example, while you walk to the park, ask the kids different questions on the way. This is easy, educational, and fun. Some easy questions to ask would be:
- What color is that house over there?
- Who sees the red truck?
- How many birds are sitting on that wire?
It’s very important to keep things simple. This is the greatest thing I’ve discovered overall. So I'll say it one more time - It’s very important to keep things simple! Thinking this way keeps learning fun! If you let things get too complicated or if you become too rigid and insistent your children will get bored and everyone will become frustrated. Frustration is something we all live with daily and it can take over your homeschool experience. Don’t let it…just relax and have fun!
The best places I’ve found to locate homeschooling support groups are at the following links:
You may be pleasantly surprised to find how many other parents in your area are homeschooling. I know I was. I live in a remote area and easily found endless support, helpful material, and lifelong friendships for my family and myself. Good luck with your search and for ideas of what to email your new groups please check out our Sample Email to help you find your perfect support group.
Good Luck & Happy Homeschooling!