On one of the homeschooling e-mail lists I read, this one based in my local community, a parent whose family is new to homeschooling was asking about “the big S” – socialization. It’s well known among homeschoolers that this is the most common concern that non-homeschoolers have about your kids’ well-being: “How will they get enough social time?”
As those of us who went to public school can remember if we think about it, there really isn’t much time for socializing there. Sure, there’s lunch time and recess. But beyond that, you’re supposed to be quiet, sitting in your seat and focusing on the work at hand. The social time comes during after-school activities or when visiting friends at their houses. Perhaps those who wonder about socialization are really asking: “How will your kids make friends?”
For our family, this hasn’t been a problem. When the kids were quite young, we joined a homeschool group that meets every week. The primary goal during that time is for the kids to hang out and play with each other, and they’ve made some strong and lasting friendships. A few families have been in the group for years, and others come and go, providing the opportunity to meet new kids. Also, our kids are friends with people of a wide variety of ages. In “real life,” most people have friends who aren’t the same age, despite being “socialized” in school to only hang out with people born during the same year.
Dryst and ElvenTiger have also made friends by being on sports teams. My kids are very into sports, but other homeschoolers meet friends at dance or gymnastic classes, dojos, theater productions, art studios, or scouting groups. Homeschoolers often meet other families with kids through attending gatherings as part of their religion. Some families do this by joining a church – we are Pagan so we attend (and host) community gatherings celebrating the Solstices, Equinoxes, and other holidays.
And we make friends and acquaintances of all ages just by being out and about in the community throughout the week. At the chiropractor, the dentist, the supermarket, the library, our local farm stand, restaurants, the mechanic – everywhere they go, the kids are talking to people and learning to be social.
My kids are at the age now where being in regular contact with friends is very important. They often have sleepovers, attend birthday parties, and plan get-togethers. Dryst plays online video games with his buddies, and ElvenTiger likes to do Skype calls with a couple of her best girl friends. They both keep in touch (and play games) with their friends on Facebook. Our homeschool group has branched out over the years, as all the kids have grown, and now, beyond the regular weekly gathering, we have classes, field trips, a skiing/snowboarding club, a 4-H club, and more.
So don’t worry about homeschooled kids and socialization – most of the ones I know are quite the social butterflies!