Everyone needs friends. It can be difficult for homeschooled kids to make new friendships and it isn’t because they are kept in the basement never allowed out. (If you even have one of those)
It can be hard because homeschooled kids are 1. Not exposed to other children on a regular basis, 2. Mom or Dad are working when these activities take place, and 3. Mom and Dad don’t realize how important it is to have friends that are kids.
Let’s address these points, shall we? In backward order, ‘cause I’m crazy like that!
Children need other children
This is a sticky subject because often time “friends” equal the socialization subject and we all know how homeschoolers loooove talking about that. More like duck and run!
But let’s get real for a moment, shall we?
Friendship is essential. Do we need someone who we can talk with, laugh with, vent to and connect with? Why don’t our children need same?
After all, who are they going to play in the mud with? Built forts with? Learn to pee outside with? Share secrets and play practical jokes with?
When things go great they need someone to share that news with excitedly. When the family dog dies, who is going to sit and let them cry? Yes, you are there but our children need someone besides you.
Think of your childhood friend, the one you still call every once in a blue moon. Our kids need that too.
But…Mom or Dad are always working.
One major obstacle of working and homeschooling is finding places our kids can meet other kids.
“Yeah but all I hear is how flexible homeschooling is!”
True it is flexible, and it is this flexibility that allows us to homeschool and work in the first place. Unfortunately, it is not our homeschool that is the problem. In most cases, it is our jobs.
Most solutions to the socialization problem are things such as co-ops, classes, clubs etc. When do these happen? Anywhere between “mom just left for work and mom just got home from work” o’clock.
I kid you not. Even if you do work from home chances are you are either without a vehicle to get there or it whatever interest, event, club your child wants falls right into the online call you have lined up with a client every week.
Therefore the question reminds, “How do those that work provide opportunities for their kids to make friends?”Our job is not to force our kid to make friends, but provide them with the opportunity to meet children Click To Tweet
Recognize it is our job as the parent.
First of all, we need to remember we chose this life. Yes, our kids may have had a say, but ultimately whatever reason we decided to homeschool the end choice was ours.
Do you know what this means?
It is your job (and time and gas money) to make sure they are getting out of the house and seeing other living breathing humans they aren’t related to.”
That’s right, it means it is our job to make sure our kids are in situations where they can meet other children. Which in turn can mean more work for us. Especially if our kids don’t drive, especially when we work all day and are exhausted, especially if we are a single work at home mom and even more so when there doesn’t seem to be any solutions.
If you are transitioning from public school to homeschool be sure to try hard to maintain the friendships your child already has.
You can do this through phone calls, texting, skype and other methods. If you have younger children make sure you have the parent’s contact information so that you can reach out when it is a good time for you to arrange playdates, meetups or park days.
Exposing our kids to other children:
A solution to this problem is to get creative. If all the co-ops, clubs and classes are from 1-3 pm and you aren’t available at that time, it is time to get original.
Start looking for opportunities for association outside of the normal places. Think of local museums that will hold guided tours, parks that have nature walks, even playgrounds but go after school hours when there are children present.
Oh, I know it is not always fun to be in a crowd of screaming children but sometimes it is exactly what our children need. A chance to run, play, build and create with other children.
Another solution is to find out what events are being held in your area. Our local library has Minecrafting clubs, book clubs, STEAM Groups etc. I will go in and pick up the list of activities they are doing and discuss with the librarian how the chances are my kids won’t be there for 99% of them but should I be able to bring them, can they still attend? Usually, they are very happy to have the support.
Sometimes we may need to take a financial hit too. Which is a real pain but hey, it works. I signed up my kids for an art program for summer, for 20 lessons. I paid for all of them and they attended maybe 3-4.
Think of things like spring break camps, summer camps or sporting events. Most of these will be at different times since parents of public schooled children work and need to take their kids.
You may need to be brave and step out of your comfort zone. This might mean reaching out to a recreational center and asking if you can drop off your child on your way to work so they can partake of activities in a group setting. This is great if you have clients that you can handle for an hour or so and then pick the child up again.
Another idea might be to arrange to put your child in recreational sports and volunteer to help out by organizing practice times on your schedule or get together’s after games.
Other ideas are:
- Youth Groups Church/Religious Events
- Art lessons
- Music Lessons
- Camps-Seasonal, sports, etc
- Local museums
- Library (Get ideas of what a library might offer here)
- Recreational centers for skating, swimming, rock climbing etc.
- Lego club
- Book club
- Local Homeschool groups
Getting your child there:
And this would be the other half of the battle. How do you get them there if you are at work or exhausted?
1. Asking for help
As a slight control freak asking for help is hard for me. I had to step up and call my friends and family. I asked them, “If the kids needed a ride to XZY will you be willing to take them and drop them off and pick them up?”
Most times after a few phone calls I was able to find someone to do that on days I couldn’t.
I asked other parents who were going as well to swap days with me.
When others said, “Hey let me know if I can help you!” I said, yes and asked for specifics. “On Tuesday night at 6:30 can you pick up the kids and drop them off at….”
2. Drag yourself out after work
And sometimes this means I work all day come home and pick up my kids drive all the way back in town to an event.
It means wildlife parks and playgrounds on days I’d rather be home. It means me using free WiFi at a coffee shop to work while they do other things.
3. Remember the friends can be anywhere
Also, do not forget how your children found friends before they were even school age.
Friends can be found in family, neighbors and even our own friend’s children.
We must be consistent in our efforts as friendship takes time to develop. This isn’t a one and done deal. Try to be as regular as possible. We aim for at least weekly. Again keep your own schedule in mind and what works for you.
Yes, you can help your kids find friends even if you work!
Remember our job is not to force our kid to make friends, it is to provide them with the opportunity to meet children. What happens from there is really up to them.
Providing these opportunities is not always easy. It means a sacrifice of both time, energy, and effort. It might mean stepping up to the plate more than we want to. But we are parents-It is what we do!