I’m a mother to 2 beautiful daughters who are turning 11 and 6 at the end of the summer. We made the decision to homeschool when our oldest was to start kindergarten. There wasn’t any one major factor that led us to this decision. But considering the options and pros and cons, it’s just what felt right to us. Thankfully we have always had lots of support from our family and friends.
Questions regarding our decision to homeschool are often based on curriculum and how we know what to teach our children. But another big question that often concerns people is about socialization. How will my children learn to interact with others and develop social skills that they will need later in life? Won’t they be lonely at home without friends to play with? How will they learn to deal with real life situations outside the home? And while it may be true that not all homeschoolers adequately meet the socialization needs of their child, that doesn’t mean that there is not an abundant number of ways to accomplish this goal. Here are some ways we’ve managed to socialize our girls since we began homeschooling.
Being a stay at home mom to homeschool our girls has given me the opportunity to earn extra income as a home day care provider. While this isn’t necessarily common among homeschoolers it has given our home the atmosphere of a daycare or kindergarten. At times we have 5 other little ones in our home in addition to my two girls. They love to play and have fun with one another but also have to learn how to share, take turns, and be kind and considerate to one another, just as they would with classmates at school.
We are also fortunate to live on a quiet court with other families of young children. Every day after school and for most of the day during the summer my girls are outside running around with their friends. They enjoy riding bikes together, rollerblading, singing songs, telling stories, and having parties in our carport. There are times when they don’t all agree on what to do and sometimes my youngest will be left out. There are arguments and even some crying at times when feelings get hurt. But each experience teaches a lesson.
Another great recourse if you live in a city that offers them, are classes at the local community center. They may be skating or swimming lessons, or another sport. We even signed up our oldest for a baking class where she decorated cookies with other kids her age. A few years ago I thought it would be a great idea to sign my daughter up for an art class which was held once a week for about 8 weeks. I wanted her to have the experience and challenge of meeting new children her age and having a teacher in a classroom setting while learning something she really enjoys. She was really excited at first but when the time for her first class came she cried and begged me not to make her go. While it broke my heart to see her so upset, I felt this would be a great learning experience for her. And you know what? When she came out of her first class she smiled and hugged me and thanked me so much for making her go. I was so relieved. She had to face her fears and she had a fantastic experience. It was a proud mommy moment.
Other ways to give our girls the opportunity to interact with other children have been simply to take them to where other children play. The local playground is a great place to meet new children. Usually within a few minutes my 5 year old will run up to me all excited that she made a new friend. There are many places to take the kids. We’ve been to the splash pad during the summer and they’ve played with the kids on playground at the Maple Syrup Festival in the spring and on the hay bales when we go apple picking in the fall. Play is a great way to get kids to interact with one another!
And lastly, there’s our local library. Every Thursday at 11 am we go for story time. This is great for the little ones because they sing songs and dance and have lots of fun. For my older daughter the library has several different programs like Reading Buddies, Legomania, Book Bingo, Amazing Science Adventure, and lots more. The best part is that these programs are free!
I realize that not all of these opportunities to socialize our children are available to all. However I hope it gives those who are skeptical that homeschooled children can be properly socialized a better understanding of the homeschooling world. And if you are a homeschooler or are contemplating the idea of homeschooling I hope I’ve given you some more ideas on ways to socialize your own children.
Jennifer is a homeschooling mommy of two girls and a home daycare provider. Life can be crazy and hectic with so many little ones but she finds it incredibly rewarding and loves being home with her children. You can find her at Homeschooling Mom 4 Two and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter