A Strategy to Help Homeschoolers Make Solid Friends
Are you wanting to help your homeschooler make friends?
Worried about how they are ever going to meet kids their age?
You are not alone!
Many parents struggle with understanding how a child can have solid friendships without going to school every day.
They have visions of their child staring out the window as the school bus drives away with laughing, happy children.
You worry that all of your homeschool dreams and excitement may result in isolated children with no friends.
If this is your fear – Congratulations! You are probably a fantastic parent and will have a lot of success with homeschooling.
Surprised? Wondering how I know that?
You are already anticipating and concerned about the needs of your children!
You recognize that friends are not a want – they are a need!
Why do homeschoolers need friends?
I have a very extroverted older daughter, so I knew from the beginning that friends would be a need for her. But as all my kids have gotten older, I have seen the importance of solid friendships for all their personality types.
I have realized that forming and supporting these bonds is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the many other things I keep in balance as a homeschool mom.
I am not a child psychologist, but here are the benefits I have seen in my kids from making friendships a high priority:
- Self Confidence. I absolutely feel like there is a healthy level of increased confidence in my children when they have kids in their age bracket that they enjoy spending time with. They get a sparkle in their eye when they talk about “my friends!”
- Sense of acceptance. Don’t we all love having a good conversation with that person who really gets us? I think it is a universal desire to feel accepted and understood by people, and that goes for kids too! My heart nearly exploded when I heard a kid yell out, “I want Zoe to be my partner!” during a softball practice drill the other day. I just knew how good that made my daughter feel!
- Fun! My kids love playdates, birthday parties, and looking forward to seeing their friends at all the different things we do every week. Friends make everything more fun!
Having solid friendships with other kids will do so much for your children – they need to be a priority in your homeschool!
The Wrong Way to Help Your Homeschooler Make Friends:
Yes, there is a wrong way!
When I started homeschooling, we had just moved to a new city and we didn’t know ANYBODY.
I took the kids to the park daily, sometimes twice a day. They had a lot of fun, but we rarely saw the same kids twice.
I signed my kids up for scouting, sports, and co-op, but they still didn’t make any close friends. Just acquaintance type friends that only lasted as long as the event was going on.
Lesson learned: Don’t sign your kid up for every activity under the sun and just hope for the best.
Okay, fast forward two years and my daughter was surrounded by friends at her birthday party.
She actually had to narrow her list down because I told her too many kids might be overwhelming.
What changed? My Strategy!
Yes, I developed a strategy to help my homeschooler make solid friends and it works!
I call it “Criss Crossing.”
Nope, I’m not talking about Kriss Kross of 90s fame – “Jump” – Even though that was awesome too 🙂
Crisscrossing means that I work to make sure that our schedule crisscrosses with the same group of people multiple times a week.
How I Got Started
I realized that we had pockets of individual friends that we saw throughout the week, but none of those friends knew each other. And none of them were close friendships.
First, I decided to pick which one of those groups was the most important – the group I wanted to most influence my kids. I ended up going with our scouting troop.
I then signed my daughter up to go to a short summer camp (even though it was inconvenient) with this scouting troop. (Shared painful experiences -no air conditioning in July! – promote bonding!)
Then I switched co-ops, so that we were in the same co-op as our friends from scouting.
I signed my oldest daughter up for softball because the friends from co-op AND scouting played softball.
When I found out our softball, scouting, and co-op friends were signing up for winter basketball, we did too!
We have spent so much time with this group of friends (and their awesome parents!) that we are looking into moving to a house that is in their neighborhood!
Why does Criss Crossing work?
When you make intentional steps to criss-cross your schedule with other people, it helps in a lot of areas:
- You start to see the same people (moms and kids) multiple times a week
- You start to trust each other and chat more (put your phone down) as you see that familiar face more often
- As that trust and chit chat time builds, you are much more likely to feel comfortable with exchanging numbers, meeting other places, and getting to know each other better
- Your kids will start to form a strong bond as they see each other so often and beg you endlessly for things like playdates and sleepovers
How do I get started with Criss Crossing?
- Start by thinking of the pocket of friends or people that you most want influencing your child (isn’t it great you get to pick this group as a homeschool mom!). It might be easier to start with a homeschool co-op group. They are more likely to have your shared values and have more in common with you and your kids.
- Find out which kids your kid really likes in that group and who their parents are.
- Approach the parents and tell them how sweet their kids are and how much you love seeing them together – assuming that’s true.
- In casual conversation, ask what other things their kid is involved in (i.e. soccer, ballet, art, scouting). This is a much easier conversation to have with a stranger than, “Hey, do you want to get together sometime?”
- Ask your kids which activity (start with just one) they would like to do with their friend from co-op.
- Sign them up and continue crisscrossing and friendship building from there!
- Bonus points if you volunteer and help out during these activities!
Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to just send them to school to make friends like everyone else?
Making friends is not as easy as it used to be, regardless of how your child is educated.
Everyone is on their cell phone, everyone is busy, people don’t trust each other very much anymore, and kids stay inside more than ever for lots of different reasons.
My best friend public schools her kids (which I completely support – everyone has to do what’s best for their family), and she just told me the hardest part of summer is that her kids have no friends.
All of their friends are from their classrooms, and they live in different areas all over town.
My friend has no idea who their moms are and has no way to contact them to get together.
Her kids also play sports (with no criss-cross) and everybody goes their separate ways when the season ends – no lasting strong bond friendships.
This is very similar to my experience from when my oldest was in public school.
So don’t feel sorry for yourself for having to make a strong effort in this area – homeschooling or not, you would have to make an effort if you wanted to invest in good friendships for your kid!
Recap How to Help Your Homeschooler Make Friends
In most circumstances, friendships take work in our current society.
I can tell you from experience that the work is WORTH it!
So, take what you learned in this post and start thinking about what you can do TODAY to criss cross your schedule and help your homeschooler make solid friends.
What kids do you want your kids around the most? Which ones do your kids have the most fun with?
Commit to approaching those parents at the next event and start chatting about other things you can meet up at!
If you don’t even have a starting point for that – get involved in a local co-op, scouting troop, or sport. That will likely give you a great launching pad!
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