How Home Schoolers Make Friends
- Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Today is the kickoff day for Cub Scouts. The park will be overrun with little boys playing Spider Man, spy and astronaut while their mothers take care of business for the year ahead. Watching these little boys, no one would think they are any different than the other little boys playing in the park. They are normal little boys who have friends and activities and are learning to get along with others both one on one and in groups. They are involved in scouting, like thousands of other little boys across the nation. One wouldn't know by watching them or listening to them play that they are all home schooled.
Home schooled children have plenty of opportunities for making friends, spending time with other people and learning how to get along with others in a variety of settings. Despite this fact, many parents that are considering the home schooling option wonder if their children will be isolated from the world around them. They wonder: will they be lonely, will they learn how to get along with others, and will they have friends to spend time with.
While there are some families that isolate themselves, such families would be the exception rather than the rule. If a parent is concerned about her children being isolated or friendless, the chances are that the parent will naturally find ways to get her children involved with other people doing various activities and making friends. She will take steps to make sure her children are learning how to get along with others and are not lonely.
By its very nature, home schooling is a family based lifestyle. Especially when the children are very young, just about everything that happens in the life of each family member is part of the family experience, rather than disjointed individual experiences. Parents are involved in finding and choosing the friends of their children. For those that begin the home school journey with the mother staying at home with her children when they are little, the mothers spend the majority of their time managing the home life and caring for the children. They rarely spend time by themselves, but instead take the children with them when they go out. Children accompany their mother to the grocery store, the bank, the doctor's office and on just about every conceivable errand.
These mothers of young children form relationships mostly with people that expect her to bring the children along on visits. Usually the friends have young children of their own whom they bring along as well. In this way, relationships are formed with other families. The children of various ages learn to play together and enjoy each other's company. This extends through elementary school. As the children mature and join activities they attend independently, their main connection is still the family, rather than their peers. Parents can continue to have considerable input into the social lives of their children well into the teenage years.
There is a point of view common amongst home schoolers that social skills are first and best taught at home with siblings. If people do not understand the dynamic behind this philosophy, they may be concerned that some families are not getting enough outside interaction. While most home school families do not think outside interaction and friendship are bad, they often do not consider it to be important for children to constantly be with their friends either. Most families schedule time for their children to meet with friends and enjoy company outside the family, but unless there are neighborhood friends, this is usually not a daily thing.
Family members can be our best friends or our worst enemies. Teaching siblings how to get along with each other is one of the best ways to teach good boundaries and excellent social skills. We should not expect that our children will get along all the time or always enjoy each other's company. It is a rare family where the children do not have squabbles now and then; sometimes there are periods when there are a lot of them. If parents use these opportunities to instruct their child in how to get along with others, they are building foundations for forming healthy relationships.
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