Ten Ways Homeschooler’s Create Lasting Friendships
One of the questions that concern brand new homeschooling families is how their kids are going to form quality friendships outside the bounds of public education. Those of us veteran homeschoolers know not to worry. Homeschooling only partially happens at home as our kids are involved in groups, sports, and activities that rival even the most involved public school Moms’ calendars. The homeschooling community is vast and welcoming and busy with the business of educating the hearts and minds of their students. For homeschoolers to make friends, they need not look far.
For the sake of this post, I am going to share ten ways your homeschoolers can make friends.
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Co-Ops are a great opportunity for homeschool kids to gather and create friendships. These groups also offer homeschooling parents an opportunity to teach a full class on a subject they excel at and send their kids to classes taught by other parents in subjects that they struggle with. Co-Ops often offer a lot of field trip opportunities and even sports and other extra-curricula activities.
T was on the swim team with the YMCA for two years and then played soccer with Parks and Recreation for three years. He later joined a team through the indoor soccer complex near us. Several of our local homeschooled kids are involved with martial arts groups as well. There is no sport that I can think of where homeschoolers haven’t created a way to play. Sometimes homeschooled kids can play sports on the same teams as public school kids so check with your local schools to see where your state stands on the issue.
T was involved with countless Book Clubs through our local library but he also joined a group consisting of readers ranging in age from thirteen to sixty that was hosted by our local coffee shop. He loved that group and really thrived in that atmosphere.
Tip: Most libraries offer Book Club Bundles consisting of several copies of the books and study guides and they are there for the asking. This makes it very easy for you to host your own homeschool book clubs if that is something you think you would enjoy.
Hiking Clubs can be found in every community. A great reward of homeschooling is that you can make the time in your schedule to be a much more active member in your community. For us, this meant joining a Hiking Club when T was in 8th grade. There were homeschoolers there and people of all other ages too and we quickly made friends with several people involved with the state parks that opened so many doors for us. There is also a Facebook Group we are part of that gathers for two hikes a month for just homeschoolers. Whether you find your hiking tribe through community boards or Facebook groups, there are plenty of options available to you. *Disc golf is a great way to join hiking and sports and there are plenty of groups for that too.
T spent three years working once a week at Small Miracle Equestrian Center and that time was extremely valuable. He worked with the horses and also at-risk youth and service members. T and I are heavily involved with Habitat for Humanity and we have worked with Second Harvest Food Bank, TLC Summer Food Program, Tennessee Serves, the animal shelter, Stories to Service, and countless other service opportunities over the years. These are great opportunities for your kids to learn amazing life skills, gain compassion, and develop beautiful friendships with other kids who also have a heart for service.
For reference, you might check out this collection of local Volunteer Opportunities I have put together. While these places may not be near you a local chapter or a similar group would love to have your help.
Camps and Clubs
T has been a part of a lot of clubs. Photography, hiking, Stories To Service, Book Clubs, Cooking Clubs, and even Car Clubs. He also has attended a lot of camps. His favorite, Adventure Camp was hosted through Parks and Rec. We also visited the Astronomy Club many times but because of the travel time never formally joined. There are dance clubs and drama clubs. I could go on and on. Whatever your child’s current interest there is a club out there ready to help ignite their imaginations and immerse them in the subject. Sign them up and show up. Friendships come naturally if you just show up.
As mentioned T is a part of a lot of the Library Programs. He was on the Teen Advisory Board at our local library for three years. He was part of Stories to Service where the groups read a book about a community service need and then sought grants so they could tackle the problem. They built and set out birds nests, planted a community garden, hosted a huge event to place animals that had been at the shelter for long periods of time, and set up an entire conference for teens on how they could handle stress and manage their mental health. He was also part of many book clubs and game nights hosted there. I strongly encourage you to head to the library and sign up for their groups. The library is an extremely valuable asset to every homeschool family.
Our church, Grace Fellowship, has a huge student body and countless groups and activities. They offer camps, weekly meetings, getaways, volunteer opportunities, and so much more. Finding a church with a focus on youth services can be an important opportunity for helping your homeschooled child form lasting and consistent friendships.
Recreation Centers, Parks, & Museums
In our community, we have a really cool rollerskating rink that offers Homeschool Days every Wednesday. We also have a trampoline park that offers homeschool discounts at certain times once a week. The Parks Service offers Homeschool Days featuring all kinds of fun and educational classes. Look around your community and find where these opportunities are. Also, check with your local museums and see if they offer homeschool classes. Ripley’s Aquarium offered some that T attended and I believe Oak Ridge has some too. T attended his shark dissection class at the Gray Fossil Site. Look around, there are classes happening everywhere and all of these are opportunities for homeschool kids to make friends.
*Again for reference, you might check out this list of Homeschool Opportunities I highlighted for my friends in the area to get ideas for your family.
Playing In The Neighborhood
I know this seems obvious but sometimes all you have to do is open the door and head outside to find the best friendships. Our street has a basketball hoop on it and T made some of his closest friends just by showing up there. As parents, you can show up too making an effort to get to know your neighbors and organizing some get-togethers.
These are just some of the many ways that homeschoolers make friends. It’s mostly about showing up and being involved. And in my humble opinion that is one of the greatest joys of being part of the homeschool community. The freedom to choose where you show up, how you pursue interests and passions, and where you get involved. Lasting friendships evolve not from being in the same classroom but instead from sharing the same interests, the same goals, or the same neighborhood.
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