Three Ways to Build a Homeschool Community for Your Child
If you’ve had conversations with anyone about homeschooling your child, I am sure one of those conversations has been about socialization. As I type out “socialization”, I realize that I have never written an article about this hot topic in the homeschool community. I assume this is because I remember being a child, and based on memory adults were not worried about me being socialized. No one asked about who I was or wasn’t talking to nor did they make it a habit to get my friends and I together. Most of what I know about being a good friend has come from simply living life outside of social constructs. With that being said, this post isn’t about children who learn at home and their need for socialization, but instead it is about building real community for your home educated child.
Three Ways I’ve Established Community for My Home Educated Daughters
By Paying Attention to Who They Call Their Friends
The most simplest way I’ve been able to help my daughters cultivate real friendships is by paying attention to who they are drawn to. I remember when I made the decision to withdraw my daughters from a local childcare center. My older daughter was four, and I didn’t want her to lose the friends that she had made. I took it upon myself to write each parent who my daughter had an actual connection with a note requesting their phone number. A few of the parents responded. Out of the few, one of those relationships continued until the girls were around 9-years old.
My daughter was too young to drive herself to playdates or make the call to set up the playdate with her friend which meant that I had to intentionally be a bridge between her and her friend. When we think about community and our children, we have to remember that in the years before they can drive and make plans for themselves, we will be the ones coordinating their agenda.
Even now I am intentional about getting them together with their friends. There is little that I will say no to when it comes to hanging out with friends because I know the value of good solid friendships. I live by example by making it a point to hang out with my friends. I try to see those who are in my inner circle at least once a year if they are not local to me. When it comes to my girlfriend who lives in my area, I have the privilege of getting together with her at least once a month.
I want my daughters to know that no matter how many friends they have that these people are the building blocks of their community.
By Investing in Their Interests
Friendships are free, but sometimes you have to go into your purse to help your child find their people. My daughters each have their own interests. I have a daughter who is passionate about photography and another who is really into volleyball. While they can pursue these interests without others, it is nice to for my daughters to be able to share their interest with other people who get it.
Last year, we tried new things related to their interests. My photography enjoying daughter took a class at a local co-op and my volleyball player joined a volleyball team at a private school. Neither of these were free, but they were worth it because my daughters were able to share their interests with other young people who shared the same interests.
Joining teams and enrolling in classes won’t necessarily bring your child a slew of new friends, but it can provide them with camaraderie. My volleyball player has learned more about the sport and teamwork from being in a group of girls who are just as passionate about the sport as she is. I’ve felt this same feeling when I’ve invested in business masterminds and small groups. There’s something special about a group of people who come together for a specific goal. I’ve often left these communities with at least one new friend who I can connect with even after our time together in the group is over.
I want my daughters to know that it is okay to invest financially in communities that meet a need in their lives.
By Forming and Participating Clubs and Groups in Our Larger Homeschool Community
Homeschooling can be isolating if we let it be. We can become wrapped up in getting all the lessons done that we lessen the time we have to be part of the larger homeschool community.
My previous suggestions for establishing community had little to do with the homeschool community itself. My daughters have a variety of friends. Some homeschool while others do not. This is also true for me as a homeschool mom. Most of my friends are not stay-at-home moms let alone homeschool moms. I like having a mixed bag of friends, but as a mom who has chosen to homeschool I know that I also need solid friendships within the homeschool community. Recently, I realized that I am not the only homeschool mom who needs a solid homeschool community so I’ve created opportunities for homeschool moms online and in my local homeschool community for these vital connections.
My daughters have reminded me that they too needed friendships that are reflective to our lifestyle. The simplest way for me to help them meet other home educated children was to join or create a homeschool community. We have joined co-ops, and I have created communities via Meetup. This method has been hit or miss. Not all co-ops are great and many are not diverse. We are currently a part of community that’s a nice drive away. For me, the drive is worth it because my daughters had formed friendships with many of the girls who participate. The parents who are part of the community are also intentional when it comes to how they engage with the children. There’s trust there.
Before becoming part of our current community, I didn’t think it was possible to truly feel part of co-op community. We would usually leave our classes without much interaction with other attendees. I believed that the communities I’d created on Meetup were more successful when it came to continuing relationships once I canceled our Meetup membership. Now, I can say that the success balances out and what is most important is making sure that the group as a whole meets your child’s needs.
Since my daughters are older, I’ve started branching out to creating clubs and inviting others from our local homeschool community to join these clubs. This year, I am sponsoring a junior and senior level Beta Club and FIRST Lego League. This is my first year as a sponsor for both of these groups so there is a learning curve for me, I am super excited to be able to take the lead and put together these spaces for my daughters and other homeschooled children in my community.
I want my daughters to know that is perfectly fine for them to go out and create opportunities to build the community they desire around them.
Community building does take work and effort, but you truly can give your home educated a solid community.
What other tips do you have for building communities for our children?