If you’ve homeschooled for awhile, you likely know that the socialization question is a non-issue. You’re probably aware that the stereotypical image of a weird, unsocialized homeschooler doesn’t fit most homeschooled kids. However, if you’re new to homeschooling, have recently moved, or live in an area without an active homeschool community, you may have legitimate reasons to wonder how to help your homeschooler find friends.
I remember wondering the same thing eons ago when we were a new homeschooling family – and even more recently before Megan met her BFF. Over the years, I’ve found resources that have worked us and other homeschooling families that I know.
1. Join a support group. An excellent way to get involved with local homeschoolers is to join a support group. Most organizations offer a variety of opportunities to get together, such as field trips, play dates, co-ops, and holiday parties. Search for homeschool support groups by state on
Search for homeschool support groups by state on Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s Home School Organizations page. You can find more groups listed by county when you click on the link for your state. You can also go directly to your statewide support group’s website to find local listings or try searching your state name plus the keywords “homeschool support group.”
2. Check out online groups. For many years, my local source of homeschool support was a Yahoo-based email group. It began with a few friends the first year we homeschooled. Within a few years, it grew into a huge group that became an incredible source for making friends, both online and off. The group moved to Facebook a few years ago, and I am now part of a few local homeschool groups through Facebook.
Check your local group’s website for links to their social media accounts or search for local groups directly on Facebook. One of the benefits of an online support group is that members can get to know each other online, alleviating some of the awkwardness that can accompany meeting in person for the first time.
Online groups are also a fantastic way of making connections with the homeschooling ahead of time if you’re going to be moving to a new area.
3. While most kids are at school, visit kid-friendly places. Head to your local playground, library, indoor play area, children’s museums, or other places where kids congregate. If there are school-aged children there during regular school hours, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re homeschoolers. Don’t be afraid to ask. We’ve made friends a few times that way.
4. Join classes or co-ops for homeschoolers. While the emphasis may be on learning in these settings, there’s always a little time for kids to chat before or after class. Suggest a group play date or schedule something with the parents of a child or two that child clicks with. If you’ve got older kids, you may not have to do much of anything. My teens usually come home from classes with a new Facebook friend or two or some numbers in their cell phones for texting.
5. Host a get-together. Whether it’s a book club, an art show, a nature club, or just a play date, if you invite them, they will come (usually). If you’re not comfortable hosting an event in your home, try a local park, a kid-friendly restaurant, a library, or even a bookstore. Many bookstores are open to allowing groups to host book club meetings in their stores.
6. Go to homeschool events. Megan met her BFF at a homeschool dance hosted by a local organization. It wasn’t our support group, but a group that hosts social events for homeschoolers throughout the year. The girls had a few mutual friends, so they wound up hanging out chatting during the dance. Josh met his BFF at one of our early email-based group’s homeschool outings. (His mom had gotten to know some of the other moms via email before their move here from out of state.)
7. Go to church. Yeah, I know not everyone attends church, and you shouldn’t go just to meet friends. However, we do attend church, and ours has been a fantastic place for meeting friends. Josh met his other BFF there, and it’s where Megan met her boyfriend. They also have lots of other friends in their life groups on Sunday morning and youth group on Sunday night. Because it’s a large church with students from a variety of local schools (public, private, and home), we don’t have to deal with too much of the clique-iness that can happen when all the kids know each other from school.
8. Pursue hobbies. Pursuing your child’s hobbies can be a fantastic way for him to meet friends. Your kids will have opportunities to meet others with common interests while enjoying activities such as:
- drama and community theater
- homeschool or community classes such as art, photography, music, or baking
9. Be bold. While Megan and her BFF met at a dance, it wasn’t until her mom called and suggested a hang out (or whatever you call it when they’re teenagers and too grown for play dates) that they really cemented their friendship. The mom and I were acquainted through homeschool circles. When she learned that Megan and her daughter had talked and discovered some common interests, she called me and arranged a time for them to get together, and the rest is history. I think they’ve spent the weekend at each other’s houses nearly every weekend since.
If your child hits it off with a potential friend at an event and they’re unlikely to see each other on a regular basis afterward, take the initiative to provide opportunities for them to get to know one another.
10. Maintain friendships. If you’re transitioning from public school to homeschool or moving to a new area, make an effort to maintain your kids’ current friendships. Arrange visits and play dates or let the kids chat over Skype or FaceTime. Let them write letters, talk on the phone, text, email, or chat over Facebook.
Most kids just need an excuse to get together to start forming friendships. Fostering those friendships may take a little more work for homeschooling parents than it would for parents of children in a typical school setting, but the results are worth it.
How have your homeschooled kids met their friends?
updated from an article originally published August 2, 2010
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.