Cultivating connections and friendships while Homeschooling is an often discussed topic. In fact, most Homeschooling parents I hear from are looking to help their pre-teens and teens plug into other groups and communities. As our children get older, they naturally want (and need) solid and healthy peer groups. But how do we do this?
The answer is, get creative
Finding and connecting with other home schooled preteens and teens can be challenging. You have to be creative and proactive to make and/or find opportunities. This might be stepping out of your comfort zone to post on Facebook groups or hosting classes or clubs (more on these below). Just like with so many things with Homeschooling, creativity is a must.
Get your teens involved
You’ve got to partner with your kids when it comes to building friendships and connections. I have three teens and they are all so different and have different needs and desires when it comes to making friends. If you have a more introverted teen, forcing them into a huge co-op might be counterproductive. On the other hand, if you have an extroverted extrovert, you might find that you’re sampling a variety of classes, clubs, events and more to help them stay engaged.
Make sure you and your teen have a clear idea of what you’re both looking for in a community.
It’s important to explore a variety of groups, activities, and people. Building connections can take time. Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work out right away or if you don’t find your “people” right off the bat. Try the following ways to connect with other Homeschooling teens.
Often, we, the Homeschool parents, have to initiate things for our teens, whether that be reaching out to other parents, hosting events, etc.
Be open to a variety of options and see what works for your family.
Start with your local Facebook Homeschool groups: By and large, I’ve found that my local Homeschool Facebook groups are the best place to connect with other Homeschooling families. I’ve found classes, co-ops, social events, and more by following posts or asking questions. With more and more families Homeschooling for High school, you will probably find other families looking to connect too. You might have to post multiple times to get responses. Don’t limit yourself to one group either. I am active in three local groups. This is a great place to start planning the activities below.
Play on a Homeschool sports team: Most areas have netball, football, volleyball, soccer and more. If you don’t have a Homeschool sports team in your area, look into starting a team! This allows the kids to have practice and catch-ups during school hours.
Host a social event: Many local businesses are happy to partner with Homeschool groups to offer discounts during their off-peak hours. Ask your teens where they’d like to go with other friends and then start calling around. We’ve done events at our local indoor laser tag park, the zoo, bowling alley, ice skating rink, etc. I truly believe Homeschooling teens are out there and want to find events or just be invited. Take it upon yourself to schedule just one event and see what happens.
Start or attend classes/co-ops: I know this last one seems a bit obvious, but it’s truly been one of the places to meet lots of other teens. I know Homeschool co-ops and outside classes aren’t for everyone, but there is something about a “built-in” group that your teen is interacting with each week for school that might make it easier to host socials or start other clubs. If your teen is looking for an in-person class and you cannot find one, do some research into how you could start a class.
Consider these non-Homeschool related ideas
There are many, non-Homeschool related options that work well too. These are especially helpful as teens get older and might be looking to connect with others beyond the Homeschool world. Options to explore can include:
Getting a job
Attending local community college classes
Participating in a community sports program
Attending community programs (scouting, guides, air league)
Acting in local theatre productions
Know that connections and friendships take work
No matter where you are on the Homeschooling journey, connections and friendships take work, time and dedication. You might swing and miss a few times before you hit a home run and connect with a group that fulfils your teen’s needs. Don’t be discouraged!
Get creative, get your teens involved, and get realistic about the options around you.