Forming Homeschool Friendships that Count
If you’re a veteran homeschooler, you know that socialization isn’t an issue. In fact, weird unsocialized homeschoolers are what TV shows are made of, not real life. However, if you’re a new homeschool parent, you may worry about how your new homeschooled child will find friends and stay active. Don’t worry! There are a lot of resources out there, you just have to know where to look.
Most kids don’t have any issues forming friendships when given the opportunity. With homeschooling, it may just take a bit more work from us homeschooling parents since they aren’t in a typical school setting, but you’ll be amazed how busy your kids actually are once you get into your homeschool routine that works for your family!
Join a homeschool group
The easiest and quickest way to get involved with other homeschoolers in your area is to join a homeschool or support group. Most of these groups offer a variety of opportunities to get together on different days and at different times. Field trips, co-ops, holiday crafts, and play dates at parks are just a few activities that are offered. Many large homeschool support groups are listed by state on the HSLDA page.
Take advantage of online groups
Besides homeschool organizations, there are a ton of small, local homeschool groups in your area to be found on Facebook. Whether they be for moms to connect their kids through activities, or teenage-based groups for homeschoolers, they are a great way to connect. Talking back and forth online alleviates some of the awkwardness that comes with meeting for the first time in person.
Visit kid-friendly places during “school hours”
While kids who go to a brick-and-mortar school are in session, head to your local library, neighborhood park, children’s museum, or other places where kids flock. The kids you will find there during regular school hours are most likely other homeschoolers. Don’t be afraid to ask – you might just make some new friends!
Join co-ops or classes
While these are focused on extended learning, there’s typically little time to socialize before and after. Some school districts may offer homeschool programs one day a week that even offer lunchtime or recess time for the kids. If you notice your younger child clicking with a couple of other kids, in particular, reach out for a playdate. If your kids are older, you may not need to help the friendship along. They may have already friended them on social media, exchanged cell numbers, or decided to play together on an online gaming platform of interest that they share.
Host a get-together
Once you know where to find local homeschool families, offer to host a get-together. It can be a book club, an art show, a nature club, hiking, or just a playdate. If you don’t want to host it at your house, local libraries have rooms for functions, or you can meet at a neighborhood park or a local place for an easy hike with trails. The options are endless.
If you’re a new homeschooler, chances are your child already has some solid friendships with some of their former classmates. Preserving those friendships may be hard, but making an effort to stay in touch, either through playdates, FaceTime, or Zoom, it’ll help foster the relationship they’ve already made.
Attend homeschool events
Some local and regional clubs, organizations, and associations host social events for homeschoolers throughout the year. A homeschool dance, mixer, or outing is a great way for your kids to meet others with similar interests.
Inquire at church
If your son or daughter does Awanas or a teen youth group at church, they may not realize that some of the others in the group homeschool as well. This is a great way to expand spending time with them, especially if they already get along and spend time together at church. Similar interests, beliefs, and values are a great way for friendships to grow into adulthood.
Engage in sports & hobbies
If you have older kids, they probably already have an idea of the things that interest them. If you have younger kids, they may just be starting to experiment to find out what they like to do. When your kids open themselves up to the things they enjoy, they will meet others with common interests such as:
- Acting and theater
- Sports, whether they be recreational or competitive
- Classes such as photography, music, cooking, or art
Take a chance
If your kids are a bit shy or introverted and have a harder time opening up and talking to peers, you may need to gently step in and help. My daughter is a competitive gymnast and part of her training is during the day. There’s another homeschool girl who trains at the same time that is close to her age. They hit it off at training but were too shy to suggest they play together outside the gym. Once we moms stepped in and planned a playdate, the girls have been close friends ever since. It’s nice to have a friend who understands a hectic sports schedule, and a homeschool lifestyle, and who can also take time off together to “just be kids”.
Let’s face it. Friendship is essential. Even if you consider yourselves a close-knit family and are proud of the fact that your child comes to you with their concerns or worries, they also need a peer to laugh with, share their silly ideas with, build forts with, share secrets, and someone to go to that will understand their childhood fears and interests.