Most homeschooling parents get asked the same question about their kids. Are your kids lonely all by themselves? They wonder how do your kids make friends with other children.
Homeschoolers can be lonely if they do not have a weekly and daily schedule to socialize. A homeschooled child is not lonely if they meet regularly with other children and adults in a variety of settings both inside and outside their peer group.
Most parents want their kids to be happy and surrounded by loving friends and family, no matter where your child goes to school. You want to know if homeschooling will make your child lonely. Read on and find out what we have found. It may surprise you as well.
Homeschooled children may be having classes in their own home a few days per week. They may also be taught by their parents, a teacher, or a tutor that comes to the home. The rest of the time these homeschoolers may be playing with their siblings or kids in the neighborhood. If these children do not have any other hobbies, play a sport, or join extracurricular activities they may not have much contact with other children. This is certainly normal and could lead to a child being lonely. However, a child may also be perfectly well developed and communicate well with their parents and others and seem socialized.
A homeschooled child may have a varied schedule of 50% of their classes at home and 50% at their local school or hybrid school. They might also have afternoon tennis or soccer lessons and play on the community club team. Lunchtime may be spent at their friend’s house next door on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. And they might also have dinner 3 times a week with their Uncle and their children. A homeschooled kid may have more varied activities then some adults. It really is a matter of the parent and their child’s desires and actions.
But doesn’t this also happen with kids in a traditional school? Let’s look into this a little deeper.
Research Shows Homeschoolers Don’t Lack Social Skills
Some parents like to see the research about how homeschooling may be advantageous for their socialization and is it possible to assimilate. There are numerous data that shows the benefits of homeschooling. They also show that socialization is not an issue as many parents suspect.
“homeschooled children received higher scores on the communication, daily living skills, socialization, and social maturity subscales”, Smedley
That study conducted shows that homeschooled students performed better than students in traditional schools with respect to social skills. Another study conducted examined the behavior of both homeschooled and public school students. It was focused on having outside observers view both types of children and report their findings.
“children attending conventional schools showed more than eight times more problem behaviors than homeschooled children”, Shyers
Many people believe that traditional schools may naturally provide the setting for children to be social with a wide range of other kids. In a local public school, you will have a mix of children from your neighborhood and a few from outside of the area. This is perfectly normal and the makeup of each neighborhood is probably reflected in the school as well. We don’t need to tell you this right? However, your local school may not reflect the makeup of the school. And another consideration, you might not even know what the school is like. One might wonder about the quality of the teachers and administration and the curriculum. What about the kids and are they all model students? How will your child interact with them? Your guess is as good as mine.
Some Negative Research About Socialization, Right?
We tried to find data about the negative results researchers collected about the social skills of homeschooled children. We did not find any that would lead us to believe that we would need to be too concerned about the socialization of our children if we homeschooled them. This doesn’t mean that there is no data or there won’t be any more studies to show any negative data. But so far there is little academic evidence to suggest there is a problem with homeschooling and children’s socialization skills.
There are so many variables that go into how will any child turn out that it could make the head spin. I really do wish we could tell the future and use some type of machine that could let me plug some data in and then it would come up with how your child will turn out! Send him to school A and where does he go to college? Homeschool with Time4Learning and does he go to Harvard?
Lack of Friends to Confer with When They Have Problems
One possibility we do agree might arise is that a child may have some difficulties when they have a problem and they don’t have anyone to discuss it with. If they have a brother or sister then maybe it is slightly better. However, in traditional schools, a student has many opportunities to chat about their problems or challenges with their friends. They can chat during break time, recess, or lunchtime. They can also discuss it during PE class or just when they are walking to class after the bell rings for the next class. Some homeschooled kids do have this problem especially if they do not have any siblings or if they have little outside activities.
As a parent, you will have to be conscious of this possible situation and keep good lines of communication with your children. But there are some topics that your child will want to discuss with friends or someone of their own age. And you will have to make plenty of opportunities for them to do this by scheduling enough time with other friends and homeschooling students. Otherwise, it is possible that your child will feel left out and lonely when it comes to being able to get some “good advice” from friends and classmates. We all know that sometimes we may not really get good advice. But rather someone is there to at least listen to us.
Loneliness from Less Interaction Outside the Family
If you have weekly dinners or other meals with family in your neighborhood, that’s great. Family is a big part of our support network. When we need someone to babysit, or we need a date night with the wife, my in-laws are always there to take their grandkids off our hands. We are blessed to have this arrangement. But there might be some situations that your child might find more interest and support from others outside of the family network. Researchers have recorded this as a potential point to highlight. A varied social network meaning having meals or activities with people that are outside of the family is also important.
Meeting up with people of different social backgrounds and ideas is a great opportunity to explain and highlight the differences with your children. Sometimes my older daughter, when she was younger, disliked all these dinners with other families and old friends of mine. But they did get a chance to hang out with the kids of my friends and interact with them and play. Over the past few years though we haven’t had the chance to meet up with some of these families due to different schedules. My daughter did ask, why we haven’t had lunch with them and she said she misses those guys. Hey, why not go camping with some families and enjoy the great outdoors! Check out this article about camping and homeschooling.
Homeschoolers May Lack Peers To Learn About Sharing
As an only child, my life as a kid was borning at times. But of course, how would I know? Well, I can’t really know. Firstly, I’m too old to remember, but when I see my kids playing together like crazy around the house, they seem to be having so much fun. So I just imagine myself as an only child as being lonely. So how can homeschoolers learn how to act around their peers? And what about sharing things, where do they learn this? Well, I guess it was just like me as an only child at home. Just play with other kids, like is discussed in this article!
Of course, I first learned these things from my parents, or mainly my mom. My dad was at work all day. Since I didn’t have any siblings, I had to learn most of these things from my mom. Or when I was playing with the kids in our neighborhood. I can still remember I was usually at the neighbor’s house because he had way more toys than me at home! And he had even more toys because he had an older brother as well. Back then we would run around the neighborhood, climb the huge trees in the backyard and ride our bikes down the end of the street. We weren’t allowed to go beyond that street.
So you can certainly learn how to share and how to act around peers as a homeschooler. You have to be mindful as a parent to make sure to schedule playtime and ample chances to learn about playing with strangers in the park (of course kids) and in the neighborhood. Perhaps there is a concern about safety because where you live is not ideal for kids to run around and play. But this is something every parent needs to figure out. And as a homeschooler, it is no different. A parent needs to create these situations and opportunities. They need to play, share, and hang out with other kids they are unfamiliar with. This is basically just a normal life, right?
Homeschoolers with Few Friends Will Be Lonely
When you notice that your child doesn’t get many phone calls, or they don’t seem to talk about friends you might worry right? Some parents are very keen to observe and monitor their child is making the right friends. In a homeschool environment, it is much more of a controlled environment, but there are chances for kids to create friendships in places you never knew about. And you might not be able to even monitor, as the social media networks. Whether or not they are homeschooled, if your child has few friends then they might be lonely. It’s just a potential fact. It can also be a fact that they might be more introverted and are just fine with a few good friends whom they see occasionally.
As a parent, you will have to be flexible and give your child some space to develop their own network of friends. And you will have to actively create these opportunities and build it into your homeschooling routine. If you make sure to incorporate this into the schedule at an early age you are more likely to be able to help your child learn how to develop good, healthy, and lasting friendships.
Homeschoolers Make Friends Too, How?
As I already mentioned, when I was growing up, I was usually at home when I was younger with my mom in the daytime. We did the normal things but I can remember going to the park, going fishing at the local pier and visiting my relatives. I can even remember visiting some relatives like my great grandmother in the nursing home. Kids usually get their first lessons about friendship from their families. When I was a kid, my folks had dinners with lots of guests over and it always smelled so good! Even at my age, I can still smell that wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen.
Most of the time we had family over for these meals. My grandparents lived in the neighborhood as did some cousins and other relatives. But we did also have some of my dad’s friends and co-workers visiting as well. I like to do the same things as an adult. I enjoy cooking and having family and friends over for meals. It just feels like what I used to do as a kid. Most people learn how to make friends starting at home. If you have people over for BBQ’s or you go to church activities often or baseball games, your children will most likely do the same when they grow up.
There is research that shows in the early stages of growing up, the teachers and parents play a very important role in how children develop friendships.
“Signs of friendship: the amount of time children play together, behave prosocially with one another, take initiatives and imitate one another’s behavior.”-Friendship in young children: Construction of a behavioural sociometric methodAnne-Greth van Hoogdalem
From a very early age, your children are imitating you and following your lead. So parents need to be aware that they are being watched! Yes, you are being followed and you must be a leading role model. If you expect your children to grow up and develop lasting friendships, you need to model the same behavior. Your homeschoolers can also make friends just like any child can with the right modeling and care from their parents and family.
Are homeschooling parents lonely? Well, they might be!
The focus of homeschooling is usually on the children when they are asked about the kid’s development issues and will they be able to make friends. But don’t neglect one major factor in the puzzle, parents! We as Dads and Moms need to be aware that we can also be just as lonely as our children. As we prepare and plan and teach and race around town to drop kids here and there, we can be lonely! We can also be very tired if we do not care for our loved ones and pay attention to ourselves and our health. We do need to take extra care of our mental and physical health to ensure we are always at 100% for our children. As a homeschool parent it’s best we don’t call in sick!
But we also should stay in touch with our friends. Make sure to schedule our own time with our spouse and friends to do things we like as well. It is easy to lose touch when we are in a rush all the time. I am so glad that I started homeschooling my child because it forced me to slow down. I had to literally put everything down and read and review and learn about homeschooling myself. I was the teacher! I was the principal and counselor. My job was so important that I had to fully concentrate. I have to make sure my child’s education and chances to make lasting friendships and relations were sound. But remember that it does really take a community to care properly for your family and child. You have a network there for you to make sure you are never alone or lonely! Have fun with homeschooling! Have fun with it and you will not be lonely for sure!