Building Homeschooling Friendships
Beverley Paine, July 2107
There are lots of opportunities to meet other families if you are able to get out and about, and many of us tend to get very busy doing just that in our first homeschooling year - a few us go overboard and overdo it a bit and get a tad exhausted - there is a LOT going one! We soon settle into a routine that works for our family... but it does take a little time and sometimes a little juggling and trying out different groups and different activities to find people we gel with...
The social side of homeschooling is more than simply our kids doing stuff with other home educating kids though - yes, our kids really love hanging out with other kids and simply playing, and yes, it is cool to have some opportunities to do learn together in a structured way (similar to what they do in a classroom), but the main socialisation process that occurs through home educating our kids is a very natural one - them being in contact with adults that really care about them, are keen to engage with them, to help them learn in ways that suit them and at times that meet their needs and match their developmental stages. Homeschooled kids interact differently with adults - they trust and expect that the adults are keen to share their learning journey, will help them, take the time to answer questions, help them find resources and approaches to help them learn. And to want to play with them, chat and laugh and sometimes just be silly together.
The social network of homeschooling starts from within the home and I've found that the best homeschooling social activities are those when I've invited families I've met at a local get together or during an excursion back into my home to get to know better. It's hard at first because most of us are naturally shy (even though we all went to school and were socialised for 10+ years...) - having a simple and inexpensive activity to do together helps (come over and play LEGO is one we'd probably go with in our house). What kids tend to want is one or two friends they can see regularly - a couple of times a week, maybe for a couple of hours one day, perhaps a whole afternoon another. This tends to be relatively unstructured time where they can simply play. Like any friendship at any age, relationships need to be nurtured and it can take a bit of work to get to this stage. Few kids who go to school get the opportunity to play like this (beyond the half hour or so they get at lunch time each day) and build relationships that will continue to exist once school is over for the day.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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