I bet you have wondered how can a homeschooler make friends when they’re the only one in the classroom?
Well, I can say for sure your homeschooling student can make friends just like any other child! Keep reading and find out how it’s possible.
Homeschoolers make friends through your guidance, teaching, and role modeling of what making friends looks like. When you socialize with other families, join organizations, and do family projects you can easily make friends!
Find Other Homeschooling Families
This may seem obvious, but we didn’t experience it because we were so focused on ourselves and finding the right curriculum in the beginning. However, there are probably a few homeschoolers living in your neighborhood and you didn’t even know it. The other homeschooling families will probably like to meet you and share their experiences with you. Because we are all in this together and normally other families started just like you did, without any clue about how to start. Many parents worry about making friends in homeschool.
They also worry about socialization and how their children will grow up normally. This is perfectly normal and important to handle in homeschool. Because it is a real challenge you will need to plan for. You will have to plan socialization and create opportunities for your children to make friends. This will be planned into your normal school schedule of classes outside, activities, extracurricular sports, and attending other clubs and co-operatives. Once you find your tribe of homeschoolers it becomes easier to find resources, advice, and confidence to help your kids make friends. We found this helpful article that offers 50 ways to teach social skills.
Teach Your Kids How to Make Friends
Like any other subject, you can help your child learn how to make friends. That’s right, you can build it into your curriculum. It may sound silly to some at first, but we homeschooling parents are at an advantage. We can plan and help our children to learn many things that they wouldn’t normally get a chance to learn about. We can help them with character building, and give them some tips and practice how to make friends. Please check out this helpful article for a few tips about helping your kids make friends.
Some other advice is to observe how your children react around others and you can help them make adjustments to their behavior. This Cleaveland Clinic article explains the way to do it right. You may also practice it yourself at home. If you have other kids, you can do a group practice session and do some role-playing to model the right way to introduce yourself and interact. It can be fun, so enjoy this activity and you will be surprised how well it can help you especially if you have a shy child. But remember, it takes much practice and patience, so stick to it and don’t give up too soon if you see it not working right away! And most importantly, once you finish an encounter, discuss with them how it went. Did they remember their name, how old are they? Will you want to meet them and play again? If it’s an older child you can still debrief them and check how things went.
Make a Schedule for Social Time Every Week
Now that you have given your child some advice on how to make friends, you have to make time for them to meet someone! SO make a social schedule just like you schedule the time for each subject like math, reading, or science. Since they are not going to school like other kids, they don’t take a bus, or walk, or ride their bike to school with friends. They also need a chance to meet other kids, so this is now your duty to facilitate the chances for them to meet and make friends. Take special notice of the weekly schedule to see when time is available. Try at least 3 times per week at first and more as you see matching your situation.
Once you see where the potential blocks of time are available, decide what opportunities can be created for your child to meet others. It can be as simple as park time, church activities, taking up a hobby, playing club sports, or any other group activity with other kids. Be mindful that the times you create are going to have a higher probability of other kids being available as well. For example, schedule park time during times when other kids are likely to be in the park, like after school hours, or weekends. Take regular walks with your children in the neighborhood if you can and you might get a chance to meet other kids along the way. Of course, we know every family may not be in the ideal location for this, but you can find opportunities to schedule social time every week.
Get to Know Your Relatives and Make Friends
It may sound silly, but go see your relatives regularly to make friends as well! We live in the same city with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. However, we didn’t visit them very often because we would be too busy and not make time. However, when you are homeschooling, this is a great opportunity to visit relatives and make family friends. Your family is always a good start to be able to do a regular visit and let your children practice good social skills and manners.
I know my son needs to work on his skills and this is a super opportunity to brighten up your older relatives’ lives. Usually, your older relatives would love to see the younger generation as they grow up. Perhaps in your family, this is already something you do regularly, and that’s great! But for us, we overlooked this opportunity and we had to revive our relations with our nearby relatives. In Asia, the younger generation needs to visit older relatives and bring some simple gifts and drop in for a cup of tea. We regard our time here as a valuable way to get to know our older relatives and our children can learn and share the old stories with my aunt and uncle. This interesting article about Asian culture and respect for the elderly is insightful and talks about this in detail.
Be a Role Model For Making Friends
Since we are homeschooling, we are teachers of our children. We as parents and teachers must also serve as good role models for making friends. Our kids look to us as role models and when we are with our children, we must be aware and not lose sight of this important fact. In a traditional school, they will follow their friends and other adults around them, mainly their teachers and coaches. But now, you are one of the main role models for them, so you must model the right ways to make and treat your friends.
It’s not always easy to remember, and it is not the most natural thing for everyone. But making good and lasting friendships is healthy. Just see this Mayo Clinic article that reinforces this principle. When you homeschool, your friends may also play a role in your children’s education, so make sure to choose them well. We can shrug this off and say that of course we know that, and of course, this is common sense. But we remind you just to let you carefully consider your friends. Do you see them often and how do they interact with your children? Are they good role models for your children? As parents, we must select and make friends as we expect our children to make friends. Be a good role model for friendship development, if this is what it can be called!
Go Sightseeing With Friends
Once you become a good role model of making friends for your homeschoolers, go sightseeing with friends. This is a great way to bond and it’s especially good if you select friends with kids of similar age. That’s important so you have a chance to let the kids play with each other and socialize, and make friends. It’s not required, because you want to show how good friends act and keep their relations. But if you could feed 2 birds with one scone, then why not and go with friends that have kids! And make it educational, by highlighting what you will do and how to act.
That’s right, as a homeschooler you have to act purposefully and every moment can be a teaching moment. We learned that we can practice a few critical friend building skills this way. Before we go on one of our trips with friends, we firstly discuss who will go and what we will do. Then we will remind them about the age of the kids going, their names and ages. And if the kids are slightly younger, we will highlight this and remind our son he needs to be particularly careful and be a big brother to set the right tone. We find that this is a good way to practice making friends and going sightseeing to enjoy the great outdoors.
Have a Dinner Party with Friends
Make a dinner party with friends so your child can help and learn while having fun. It may seem like a small thing, but you create these moments for your kids and homeschoolers to learn and make friends. These are opportunities to socialize and make friendships that can last. We just had a BBQ last month where there were over 20 people and lots of kids running around. This is the perfect occasion to practice skills to make friends as well as enjoying some BBQ! It doesn’t matter if the kids attending are younger or older. It’s a chance to learn the skills to mingle and hang out with other children that they know or never met.
In real life, your children will come in contact with adults and children they have not met before. They will need to learn how to make friends and how to at least be polite and socialize in this kind of situation. So it’s better to be able to learn and train your children to handle these moments with your friends in a safe environment. We are not saying they should make friends with everyone, but we should train them in how to socialize and stay safe while making friends. Certainly follow age-appropriate methods to have your children meet and greet both people they know and strangers. Read this article that points out how to deal and stay away from real ”strangers”.
Go Camping with Friends & Family
Some of my greatest memories were camping in the great outdoors with family and friends as a child and making good friendships! Whether we went in my dad’s VW camper, or when we camped in the forest with my aunt, uncles, and cousins. We always had so many stories to tell afterward. Camping and homeschooling is also another super way to learn and have some time alone with your kids. Our article outlines helpful ways to prepare for a memorable camping trip. When you are camping you probably can assume that your work on team-building skills because you usually work together on many tasks.
Making friends and camping go hand in hand because there are so many things kids can do to learn and enjoy their time. Depending on their age, even young kids can get to meet and make friends while camping because it is usually a communal activity. Everyone pitches in to set up camp, prepare the food, and to go hiking booking for firewood in the nearby forest. Even if you are doing less intense camping like car camping, or in an RV, your children can still build your friend-making skills. Just like any other activities you prepare them, practice the skills, and then check with them once the activity is over. Did they meet anyone new? How did it go? What was their name? Will you want to see them again?
Join a Church
When you join a church you are joining a new family usually. Once you become a member there are going to be many opportunities to make friends as your children join a Sunday school. Your church might also have a youth group and they will likely have group outings and activities. There might also be projects for outreach, volunteering, and other ways to socialize and learn about service to your community. Churches serve as a new home and support for your family and you will most likely find other homeschooling families as well.
A survey by the National Center for Education Statistics conducted every 4 years shows that 51% of families “desire to provide religious instruction”. The majority of people homeschooling choose it because they “have a concern about the environment” of school. Once you become an active member of the church, your children will also have many opportunities to make friends and learn with others in a safe environment with people of similar principles. This is a good way to help your kids make friends and develop their understanding of religion if this is what your family desires.
Family Projects and Handicrafts
One way we help our son make friends is through our handcrafted leather business we started a few years ago. It started as a special interest project and turned into a family project. We began to handcraft luxury leather goods and we would join various craft fairs and special events to sell our goods. These kinds of family projects have value for us in many important ways. Firstly, it does provide social opportunities for your children. When we visit the local suppliers for materials and attend the craft shows, it allows our family to meet many people and interact with them.
Also when you have a family project like this, your children can join you and generally show an interest in the hobby. Especially younger kids like to mimic what they see their parents doing. You can see this in their playtime and also when they take some leather scraps and pin them on their wall as art! But this family project lets our son interact with other families and they can also get a chance to make friends with others in this industry as well as with clients. Besides making friends and socializing, we feel it can also help our children develop a sense of pride and develop their outlook on creativity. They realize they can create and make things by themselves. We didn’t have this idea when we first started our lather business.
We have even created a special backpack called the Aaron backpack and you can check it out here. It was something our son just wanted one day, so we made it!