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Finding Our Homeschooling Tribe

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Our first big homeschooling hurdle is upon us.

One of the largest concerns most people seem to have about homeschooling is that the kids won’t be socialized. I completely understand this. I am not up to being their entire social world. That being said, the reaction I hear from people who are homeschooling is that their kids get plenty of social interaction through groups, playdates, lessons, and just being out in the world. Also, the interaction is arguably better than the interaction you would have in school because homeschooled kids have the chance to talk to all different people from a huge range of backgrounds and ages. Cool, right?

Well…

Here’s the thing about that: when you put your kids in school, someone else arranges your child’s social circle. Usually, you can’t do anything about that, and if there’s a kid that you aren’t crazy about or someone in the class has food allergies and everyone has to accommodate them, that’s just the way it is. Out in the homeschooling world, it doesn’t work that way. You get to pick your groups the same way you would pick your friends, which is awesome except for the overwhelming task of finding the afore mentioned group of new friends. Where are they?

I looked on Facebook first. Tons of homeschoolers are on Facebook and the local groups are everywhere, which is amazing. Unfortunately, however, we’re hitting a bit of an impasse because Eva can’t go to other people’s homes (allergy problem), we don’t do any religion-based curriculum (family belief system problem), and there’s apparently a huge overlap here between people who homeschool and people who don’t vaccinate their children (get away from my kids problem). We have found a couple of people via Facebook, but not the community of hundreds I was hoping for.

If we look beyond homeschooling groups, I could enroll Eva in lessons and hope that she interacts enough with the other kids there to make up for not having regular classmates. This assumes two things though: (1) that Eva will spend time in her lesson socializing and (2) that we’ll find enough activities Eva can participate in. The first is a little sketchy because Eva is a fairly good listener and doesn’t usually talk much to the girls in her ballet class. The second point is also a maybe/maybe-not because we’re having a hard time finding lessons that don’t come with vending machines full of peanuts. She absolutely adored attending classes at a local gymnastics center, but they randomly decided to start selling peanut butter bars and trail mix and ultimately wouldn’t even take my call regarding switching to safer snacks. That was a heartbreak the three year old didn’t deserve.

I feel like I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be, but ultimately I just wasn’t the most social of kids and I’m still perfectly happy to see my friends every month or two. I am not, however, going to make my kids stick to the same hermit-ish schedule, nor am I keen on being their default best friend. I’ve got to keep bringing fresh faces into their world. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities, but any ideas you guys might have would be most welcome! This introvert mama needs help!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Meagan

    Have you looked into groups at your local library? I know ours has story times where after there is time to interact, not to mention you are already in a place where you can stay longer and hang out (unlike a dance class!) Eva might make a few friends, learn something and it’s free!! 🙂

    February 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Oh, we used to go to story time but I stopped because she was in preschool. Thanks for the reminder!

      February 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm
  • Reply J. Humenay

    Do you have a local ymca? They have lots of kids programs and accomodate all allergies and belief systems.

    February 5, 2015 at 4:20 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      I don’t know actually…we should, right? I’ll look into it!

      February 5, 2015 at 8:03 pm
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    What about the cousins? Can’t they all hang out together more regularly than just big family events?

    February 5, 2015 at 6:40 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Oh, they aren’t in a social vacuum. I guess I sort of made it sound that way. We see the cousins and she has her friends from preschool still plus a friend here and there that we know from other places. We just don’t have that community of other kids her age who are also homeschooling.

      February 5, 2015 at 8:05 pm
      • Reply Hope at Disneyland

        ahh ok! I took the post too literally and seriously thought you were their only outside contact. LOL Hopefully you’ll find a group of homeschoolers that she can relate to. I’m glad she has some sort of social group regardless.

        February 5, 2015 at 9:23 pm
  • Reply Cathy

    It is indeed an interesting problem.
    I loved the idea of home schooling…until I had my own children!
    As a public school teacher I have watched home schooling grow within Australia for many years now. It is interesting to observe how different people handle it. Some do it brilliantly but others make a real mess of it!
    The new school year started last week in Australia and at my school we had a child begin who had been homeschooled for the last 3 years. He is in his final year of primary school and he wanted to come back to school because he missed socialising with other children his age much to the disappointment of his mother.
    My other observation of long term homeschooling is that many children do not learn the skill of resilience and find it difficult in later life. I have observed students whose parents chose ‘suitable’ friends for them unable to manage in university or in their jobs as they suddenly have to mix and work collaboratively with people that they don’t particularly like or choose to work with, and due to having not developed resilience they quit at the first opportunity.
    Perhaps things are different in other countries…..I hope so!

    February 6, 2015 at 12:24 am
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