You remember those days. The days when riding your bike and after school snacks were all that mattered. Life was easy! You looked up to your parents and they seemed so old, although they were probably about your age right now. It’s funny how our perspective changes as we put some miles on, huh?
School was our only job. At least that’s what my mother used to tell me. “Go to school and get good grades. That’s all you have to do.” So that’s what I did. I made some friends along the way, and now those friends and I are raising our children together. We’ve all grown up.
So here we are. We are now our parents, and we have children who are school age. They’ve blossomed throughout their toddler years and now the real learning has begun. You’ve chosen to homeschool for many reasons, however you have two very pressing concerns. Will my child be socialized enough and how will they make friends?
Making friends isn’t always easy. Actually, it can be quite frightening for some children. It doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways that you can help your homeschooler make friends and get all of the socialization they need.
1. Register for Soccer
Ok, it doesn’t have to be soccer if that’s not their thing. My point here is to get them involved in some extracurricular activities. Whatever their fancy, find something that they can do outside of the home. In these settings, children are free to be themselves completely. Those who have similar interests will participate in these activities as well, and form bonds that will hopefully carry on through the years. How cool will it be for you to carpool little Daniel and his friend Malik to their afternoon activity? Totally cool!
2. Throw a Fantabulous Birthday or Adoption Party
Yes! Yes! Children of all ages love parties! Candy, cookies, cake, ice cream…all gluten free and vegan of course. HAHA! Really though, children love social activities. If your son or daughter has a birthday coming up or you’ve just become a forever family through adoption, throw a bash that the neighborhood children will be talking about until they’re grown. POPSUGAR gives us 120 really cool party themes to choose from! Invite the children from your child’s class, and create an environment that allows the kids to be free and be themselves. The laws of attraction will prevail. Friendships will be made on that day and before you know it, your child will have a booming social schedule.
3. Teach Your Child to be Sympathetic, Culturally Aware, and Polite
Parenting Science wrote a wonderful piece on how children learn and develop, and how they make friends. I won’t touch on all of the topics here, but do head on over there and check it out. In today’s world we must teach our children from a very early age how to be sympathetic towards others, culturally aware (because we’re not all the same and that’s ok), and to use their manners and be polite. As a parent, I think these three things top the list. Learning how to treat others kindly is one of the pillars of building friendships. If you instill these qualities in your child, they will be well on their way to developing friendships that will be life long.
4. Get Them Involved in Faith-based Programs
Whatever your faith, there are surely programs and organizations available that can serve your child well. It could be a club for teens, a travel group, community service, or a planning committee for events within your church, masjid, or temple. Reading time, weekend school, and faith based play dates are a hit as well for younger kids. While this sort of involvement helps strengthen your child’s understanding of their faith, it also helps them to develop bonds with their peers.
5. Organize or Join a Homeschool Coop
Homeschool coops are popping up everywhere. If you can’t find one in your local area, start one! What is a homeschool coop you ask? Well, it’s a collective of parents who have chosen to homeschool their children. Some are arranged by age or grade, while others are open to all homeschool families. The families come together regularly to learn, grow, and share together. There may be parents who are skilled in a particular area who elect to lead the group in an activity or lesson. Group field trips, camping, volunteer efforts can all be included in the coop. Children love it, and I find that the parents do also.
6. Game Night
Everyone loves game night! Host a family game night and invite families with children around the same ages as yours. Have a variety of games available with good food, and it will be a hit!
So there you have it. 6 awesome ways that you can be Parent of the Year by helping your child make friends. Go ahead, you got this! You may not have bedtime worked all the way out yet, but this, this you can do hands down. All of these have been great for my children. Let me know how these tips work for you, and please feel free to share your ideas on how you helped your homeschooler make friends.