One of the first questions everyone asks me about homeschooling is almost always about socialization. How will my kids make friends? How will they learn to socialize? Many people have an understanding that socialization only happens at school. So, if your kids aren’t going to school, there is always this question of how to find ways to make friends when homeschooled?
Let’s first explore what is socialization. The Oxford dictionary defines socialization as “an activity of mixing socially with others”. It sounds pretty simple. You don’t need any special classes or situations to socialize. You need yourself and 1 or more people. Through socializing, you have the opportunity to connect with others and make friends.
A big fear many people have about homeschooling is that kids don’t have the opportunity to meet with other kids like they do in school. If you look at schools, there are a number of kids together in a classroom and those kids get the opportunity to speak to each other. During recess, kids can mix with kids from other classes, and this broadens the chance of making friends.
But simply mixing with other kids, does not guarantee that you will make friends. Many kids go through their whole school life without ever having any meaningful friendships. Spending time together does not equate to making friends.
That is why I feel making friends when homeschooling has many advantages. You are not stuck with the same people every time you socialize. If you find something is not working, you can try something else and meet new people. You can do this with various groups until you find your tribe and your kids find their friends.
There are always exception to rules but most homeschoolers socialize regularly. In fact, there was a time I had to cut back on our socializing schedule. We were meeting friends almost every day and it was exhausting.
Most parents understand when they choose to homeschool, it becomes their responsibility to ensure their kids have enough opportunities to socialize and make friends.
The question is, where do you find these people to socialize with? It is easier than you think. Homeschooling is growing exponentially and this is resulting in more and more opportunities to connect with others.
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7 Ways to Make Friends when Homeschooled
Here are my 7 favorite ways of how to make friends when homeschooled
Sport teams and sport activities or interest groups.
If you have a child that loves sport, this is a great option. Search in your area for clubs or sport activities that your kids can join. If you are not into sport, look for something like a drama or chess club. There are almost no limits in activities for kids.
Meeting kids in playgrounds
Go to the playground and allow your kid to mingle with other kids. You are there to keep an eye but resist the urge to interfere unnecessarily. My youngest have made many friends like this. And I have found new friendships with the moms too.
Playing with kids in the neighborhood
Meet up with your neighbors. If you don’t have a street where kids are already out playing, create a safe friendly space for the kids to meet. Once the word gets out, many more will join.
Co-ops for homeschoolers
Join a homeschool co-op for a subject your child is interested in. You can take a break from teaching and your child will meet new friends.
Homeschool events, camps, get-togethers
Homeschool groups are usually active in organizing events or camps or get-togethers. Find a local group or arrange your own. We do monthly picnics for all the homeschoolers in our area and then everyone arranges their own playdates in between.
We regularly have volunteer groups for beach clean-ups. Another option is to clean up a park or maybe go help at an animal shelter. In her teen years, my middle child volunteered to help young struggling readers with their reading. My eldest volunteered to help with the preschool’s yearly concert. Through these activities, they made connections and new friendships.
Online groups, classes or games
Many online classes have forums or places where kids can connect. Online gaming also allows for connection with other kids. Or ask in a homeschool group if there is another child that would like to connect through an online game.
It might feel daunting in the beginning to venture out and find people to connect with. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. It is also a great learning opportunity for your child. They learn how to get out of their comfort zone too and how to actively be involved in making friends.
I hope these ideas help you on your homeschool journey and while you build a stronger life.