Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

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FAQ: How Does Everyone Find Friends for their Children?

answers by Beverley Paine and friends

Jo is thinking of putting her 4 year old daughter into kindy because she's finding it hard to find friends for her.

This drive and need to find friends for our children dogs the lives of home educators. There are some ways we can do this but it's important to also question what is motivating our desires and needs for this in the first place?

My response to Jo's need was:

Be in places often where there are people. Forget about the need for friends, for one or two special friends or people her own age. Her needs are for social development, to understand and work out her place in the community of humanity. Yes, fun is important but fun can be had with anyone of any age - and it is something we parents can adequately provide for our children if we think more fun (especially imaginative and creative play or personally satisfying work and activities) is needed. At four they love it when we do that. Their need for social interaction with same aged peers at this age can be satisfied by encounters in the community - playgrounds, waiting rooms, bus queues, museums - wherever you are likely to find other families. Our job (and challenge) is act friendly, get talking to both mums, dads and children in these settings and start playing with them too. The more we do this the more natural it becomes to feel and even our 'shy' children will start trusting the process of natural socialisation.

Other suggestions from members of the Unschool Australia group included:

  • Find a local home education support group or network and make a commitment to regularly attend any activities organised by the members of the group. Don't give up after the first couple of sessions as persistence pays off.
  • Start a regular activity morning at your place or at a local playground and invite friends and other home educating families. If you are worried about insurance issues, join the Home Education Network Australia. Advertise your activity at the local post office and library and home education group newsletter.
  • For younger children join an existing community playgroup.
  • You might be able to connect with like-minded families through regularly using the local toy library.
  • Tap into any community based activities, classes or lessons for children: dance, drama, scouts, sports, church, etc.
  • Focus on the activities your children like to do as your guide: do more of those.
  • Don't underestimate how comfortable children are in their own company: yes, they do ask to see more friends now and then but don't assume that means they are actually lonely.

Some concluding quotes from unschooling parents:

"My kids have a new 'best friend' every trip to the park or every house we visit." Aimee

"It is not pleasant sitting around feeling responsible for my child's happiness. This generates a fear that if I don't act and find a solution, something terrible will happen. It causes me to constantly 'seek' something I believe to be missing. It brings images to my mind of lonely children. This only seems to push what I want for my children further away. I was sure my children were suffering when they were not. It was me suffering, and it felt awful! What helped me was to first deal with my internal beliefs about my children having friends, and find out why this brought to the surface the feelings I was experiencing, and what it meant. I wasn't reacting to the perceived needs of my child, I was reacting to my beliefs about it. I found so much relief in finding that everything was OK just as it was, and that all I simply had to do was put us in the places we needed to be and see what happened from there. Turned out my kids weren't too keen on lots of friends and social interaction after all!" Leisa

     

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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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I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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