If you are homeschooling, I can only guess that others have wondered, “What about socialization?” Maybe you yourself have been wondering what you can do provide your child with enough social interaction.
It is important that we meet the social needs of each of our children while we educate at home, and I believe that the most natural way to socialize our children is to be involved in healthy community as a family.
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The Solution is Found in Community with Others
As homeschooling families, we have the amazing opportunity to grow strong relationships with family members as we spend our days together. I love hearing about families doing a morning time together to foster that community element as a family.
Plus, we have the ability to seek out social settings that are often more real-to-life than what is normally found in a classroom setting.
However, our schooling is probably not forcing us to interact with outside people on a daily basis, so we will need to make a plan for connecting with others and building community.
I truly believe that our children will thrive socially as a byproduct of our family unit thriving socially and bearing good fruit in vibrant community and genuine friendship with others.
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What is Community and Why Do We Need Others?
M. Scott Peck nails it on the head:
We need to build community with others so we can:
- Be around the same people consistently so friendships can grow
- Support a shy child to make friends with consistent interaction
- Share challenges and joys with friends who are in the same season of homeschooling and parenting
- Find support, help, insight, and encouragement from those who have walked the same path before us
- Serve each other
- Work together and give balance to one another
So much fulfillment can be found in community with others.
Practical Ideas for Building Community
Thankfully it is very possible for a homeschool family to find community and grow in friendship with others. Here are some ideas to get started—beginning in the home!
1. Cultivate a Family Culture of Loving Others
Teach your kids by example that your love for other people and the friendship you share with them is from the heart.
Make a habit to pray for others together as a family. Bring up in conversation the excellent things about other families and people you’ve met.
2. Learn How to Be Genuine Friends to Make Genuine Friends
Reach out to friends in big and small ways with cards, meals, phone calls, and thoughtful gifts.
Fight shyness and introversion and get to know new people. Ask meaningful questions, engage in conversation, and pursue people the way that you would want them to pursue you.
Learn how to open up to trusted friends when your family needs input and encouragement. Learn how to let yourselves be known by others.
3. Go When You’re Invited to Spend Time with Others
I understand how easy it can be to find any excuse to stay home when you’re tired and busy with your responsibilities, but you won’t regret putting forth the effort to build and keep those friendships that are of value to you.
4. Make a List of Families to Invite Over
Grow in the art of hospitality as you open up your home to others—friends you already know and love, and also new friends that you can connect with on a deeper level.
Consider setting aside a certain evening or a weekend day each month to invite another family over for a meal. Or how about brunch on a Saturday morning?
5. Socialize with Other Moms
Invite a mom and her children over for coffee and a play date, or plan to do a picnic at a park. Or make it a group with a few moms!
6. Include Other Families in Some of Your Own Outings & Activities
Invite another family to join yours at an ice cream or coffee shop, a restaurant for lunch, a hike, or maybe even a church or homeschool event.
7. Mentor Others & Be Mentored
Intentionally build relationships with those who are farther along the path in the areas of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, finances, vocation, education, etc. so you can glean from their wisdom and experience.
Likewise, reach out and build relationships with younger people that you can pour into.
8. Join or Start a Homeschool Support Group and/or Co-Op
A support group will probably have meetings, plan field trips, organize events and activities, and of course, offer resources and support.
Many homeschool families like to devote one school day a week to a co-op with other homeschool families so their children can learn in a group setting. Parents can get help teaching weaker subjects to their children, and contribute to the group with their stronger subjects.
Try internet searching “homeschool groups near me,” or you may find the following pages helpful to search for groups in your area:
9. Join an Online Homeschooling Community
An online community can bring together a diverse group of people as a sounding board for ideas and a source for solutions and inspiration.
You may even be able to find an online group with members that live in your area or that homeschool by the same method as your family.
Type “homeschool group” in the Facebook search bar to get started, or we would love to have you in our Homeschool Lifestyle group!
10. Teach Classes Out of Your Home for Other Homeschoolers
Are you skilled at fermenting foods or baking sourdough bread? Does your teenage son excel at woodworking? Does your family do a special craft that others would be interested in learning like stained glass or candle-making?
Consider hosting a class out of your home for other homeschool families for education and community.
11. Help Your Children Find Pen Pals
Maybe you can think of an elderly family-friend or a friend living in another state or country that your children could reach out to and ask to be pen pals.
Your children may even have friends in your homeschool group that would enjoy exchanging letters. You can also search online for websites that will connect you with a pen pal, sometimes for a fee.
12. Involve Your Children in Sports, Programs, or Activities In the Community
This could be a sports league or lessons, dance, swimming lessons, a music ensemble, worship team, art lessons, boy or girl scouts, 4H, a summer camp, and so forth.
You could check your local library or the newspaper for events and activities coming up, or see if your local zoo or museum is putting on any events.
To find homeschool events, try internet searching, “homeschool events near me.”
13. Involve Your High School Student in Public School Sports or Activities
Check your state laws on the HSLDA website to see if this is an option where you live. If so, contact your local high school for information.
14. Join a Local Church or Become More Involved with Your Church
Being involved in a church community can give your family many avenues for serving within the church, volunteering outside of the church, giving and receiving mentorship, joining or hosting a small group for more intimate fellowship, and attending church events.
You could potentially involve your kids in Sunday school or youth group as well. Some churches even host a summer Bible camp.
15. Look for Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering can be a great way to meet others, find diverse social opportunities for your family, and serve other people at the same time.
16. Pray for Good Friends
I realize that even when we put forth effort, it can be challenging at first to find those close friends that mesh well with us. Pray for good friends, and know that as we do our part to pursue others, God will provide good friends in His timing.
With some effort, planning, and intentionality on our part as parents, we can provide a variety of rich social opportunities for our children and also for our family as a whole.
I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
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