We’ve been a homeschool family for couple of years now. The most persistent question remains, “What do you do to socialize your son?” First of all, he’s not a dog. So please stop using that term. As to making sure he isn’t shackled to the basement walls, we do get out regularly. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1. I am responsible for providing social opportunities. Unlike a traditional school, notices will not be sent home letting me know about sports sign ups, chess club, or dances. Homeschool parents must seek these out. Use Google to find local groups. You may have to start using a platform you are not yet familiar with. A friend got a Facebook account that she only uses for finding homeschool events and classes in our area. You may have to start a local group on social media if there isn’t one that meets your needs.
2. I must be willing to travel. Depending on the area, your drive might be ten minutes. It might be an hour or more. If you don’t drive or have access to a car, get creative. Ask for rides. I regularly see kids at events who were driven by another family because their own parents had another obligation. I’ve given rides myself. Another mom started a Facebook group for people interested in evening events in her area because that’s when her husband can help with the driving.
3. I must be willing to host or organize events. When I started, my greatest need was for playtime for my son. I can handle early elementary education on my own. But I can’t replace free play with other kids. No one in my area offered that. So I found a space (churches and libraries are great for this) and set up a weekly play-group. We met some really nice families that we’re still friends with even though the group stopped meeting. On nice days I’ll announce on a local Facebook group that we’re going to the playground. Usually at least one other family will show up. I’ve organized a field trip to take advantage of a group rate. (Get a PayPal account and have people send you their payment.)
For some people, these things come naturally. For others, like me, it’s hard. I would much rather have someone else organize an event or get-together. However, homeschooling is very much a do it yourself lifestyle. This includes a social life.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people on my local group post: “I have an x year old child looking for friends.” A bunch of people respond with, “Me too!” But rarely does this come to anything. What does yield fruit is, “I have an x year old that likes to do y. Who wants to join us on date?”
In a nutshell, take charge! Your willingness to set up time for your kids to spend time with other kids will determine their ability to have a social life. You’ve already taken charge of their academic education. You can take charge of their social education.