When the concept of homeschooling first entered my mind, I must admit the thought of homeschool socialization was a concern. How would they know how to interact with others? Would they have friends? Would they end up not knowing how to act with other children?
Yes. These thoughts actually ran through my head.
Looking back now, it’s ridiculous that I even worried about socialization. But, just as it was a concern in my mind, it is one of the biggest questions I get when I tell people we homeschool. It’s almost like they think because we homeschool we have no friends.
Much to their surprise, my kids are, many times, more social than the other children. Sunshine is the first to walk up to another child she thinks might be fun to play with, and ask them their name. She’s not shy in the least. I can’t think of one park we’ve been to where she hasn’t made new friend almost immediately. Mister Man is the same way he just takes a bit longer to open up.
Because we homeschool, they are not around children all the same age, day in and day out. But that in no way means they are not socializing. Here are some of the many ways we socialize.
We keep our kids active and have been very fortunate to be put on great sport teams. Both kiddos make friends, have fun, and are interacting with peers. Team sports also teach them life skills, such as working together, taking turns, strategy, and sportsmanship.
Play dates are a big part of our life. The beauty of homeschooling is that you have more time for these fun play dates. These are great ways for them to interact with other kids their age and older/younger. Luckily we have quite a few friends (homeschool and traditional school families) in our area so play dates are a weekly part of our lives.
Just a simple trip to a park provides another great place for the kiddos to interact with a mix of ages. Both kiddos are quick to find a few kids to play with and the fun begins.
Our church has a great Children’s Liturgy of the Word, which both of our kiddos attend during mass. Between Children’s Liturgy, donuts after mass and just playing outside they’ve met quite a few new friends. The beauty of this outlet, is they are being brought up in the same Catholic faith we are raising our kids with so they have many of the same values and morals. They are also attending vacation bible school for the first time this year which should be a fun week with many new friendships kindled.
Never underestimate the power of extended family. This is the best socialization there is. Cousins many times become the best of friends. There is no other friendship more important than family in my mind.
Socialization may take a bit more effort on the parents part, but it also allows more socialization within different peer groups and ages. This allows them to grow and learn in many different environments and to create friendships through many outlets. Plus we can focus on school and socialization separately instead of having it all run together.
Now it’s your turn, how do your kids socialize while homeschooling?