Some kids (and parents) have a hard time finding a good local homeschooling support group. Or, there are plenty to choose from, but it’s hard to get to know the people in the group because they already have long-standing friendships.
Park day and homeschool support groups are just one of the many outlets where homeschoolers can meet people and make friends. It’s potentially a good place, but like any group of people in any gathering, there is a “culture”, and it takes a while to get into that culture. And it takes a while to know whether that culture is a good fit. And to be honest, sometimes, it’s not.
There’s no law saying that in order to be “involved” in a support group, one has to be super social and know everyone. For many families, the support group is a tool, an avenue, for finding a few friends to hang with, and once that’s established, they don’t have much large-group involvement. Other families find support groups to be helpful for arranging field trips, or working out class-exchanges. Or some families, after trying a few events, find that the group doesn’t really work for them. Not finding a homeschooling support group can sometimes feel like there’s no way for kids (or parents) to make friends.
But, there are so many other ways to meet people in the world, that relying solely on the homeschooling community to provide a “pool” of potential friends is limiting. It can be done, and be quite satisfying, just like using a school community as a main pool of friends to choose from can be satisfying. But there are, oh, so many other ways out there.
There are community classes, mommy and me classes for the little ones, volunteering, networking through existing friends, meeting people at the park or other places that are frequent hangouts. Of course, there are also religious and spiritual centers, local events and just getting out and talking to people in the neighborhood.
My kids and I have met most of our friends through soccer, hubby’s work, online groups and games, at the park and through classes, in our neighborhood…I’d say that only a small percentage of our close friends are homeschoolers.
Our friends are mostly public and private school kids. Purely because there are more of them out there. The world-wide potential friend pool is mostly made up of public and private school kids. But we have also made friends at the homeschool group too, because we go on some of the field trips and hang at some of the park days.
No matter where our kids “go to school”, I think it’s important – and more fun! – to dip into MANY social pools to find friends. In my opinion, any social pool that has people with similar interests is a good one. Homeschooling is only ONE of our many interests. So we make friends based on other interests too. And that gives a nice variety of social outlets. Also, if one social pool dries up (or for some reason it not longer exists or doesn’t work for us), we have many other ones we’re already involved in.
Some people need to have that one, or two, really close friends, and not much else. Some people need to have lots of friends and social contact. Most people are somewhere in the middle. Whatever the level of personal contact people need on a daily basis, the ability to know how to make friends, and where to find people to make friends with, is a great skill to know – a skill that homeschoolers have incredible flexibility to learn.