One of the first questions you’ll hear when people learn that you’ve decided to homeschool is, “But what about socialization?” Or a similar question, such as, “How will they make friends?” and, “How will they learn to interact with other people?” Often seasoned homeschoolers will say not to worry about it, it will occur naturally, or that you’ll find ways.
Neither set of responses is helpful, especially when you’re the one concerned about socialization. And honestly, it may not always be simple. It starts with figuring out how you define socialization. Does it mean interacting with people? Is it the more formal meaning of learning to act in a way that is acceptable to society? Usually, the question is how do I find a group of children for my kids to play with.
Hopefully, this is as easy as having a good group of children in the neighborhood. Other times, it requires some effort. There are many ways to find groups, the work comes in finding the group that’s the best fit for your family.
Here are some ideas to help you find your homeschool community:
This is a group of homeschoolers that gather to create classes for homeschool children. Classes may include academics, the arts, or athletics. Classes may be held in a formal setting, where either parents teach classes or a teacher is brought in. Often these co-ops require a fee to cover costs. Some co-ops include recreational activities at no charge, such as a park meet-up. If you know several homeschooling families, you may create your own co-op structure where each family is responsible for an area of learning. This is great when you’re not feeling comfortable in teaching a particular subject and can trade off with someone else.
Less formal than co-ops, they usually focus on creating meet-ups and extra-curricular activities. You may find yourself creating a homeschool group simply by arranging a monthly activity, such as bowling once a month. You could contact a local bowling alley, ceramics class, or other business to see if they’ll offer deals for a homeschool group to come on a regular basis. The flexibility of homeschooling allows scheduling activities during most businesses’ slower hours.
Just because you’re homeschooling don’t forget the typical organizations that are available as well. Kids are always welcome in Little League, Girl/Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs, and the like. In fact, some of these groups include local chapters that are made-up of homeschoolers.
An on-line search of Facebook and Yahoo groups is another great tool for finding available activities and groups in your area. Type in your state or your county with the word “homeschool”, and several groups should pop up. Homeschool Legal Defense Association also lists some groups located in each state.
There are also on-line options. There are live classes available where your child can interact with students and the teacher of the class. A great recreational and scholastic on-line site is Skrafty. It’s a place to play Minecraft on-line with a moderated chat. They also offer live classes.
The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Whether you’re in the midst of a thriving homeschool community or in a more isolated setting, there are options. It’s a matter of finding what fits your family best, which is pretty much the whole basis of homeschooling after all.
Please feel free to share how you found your homeschool community. You never know who might be helped by your suggestions!