Contributed by Daniel Hopkins (age 17)
“But, what about social life?” This question is one of the most often asked questions regarding homeschooling. It’s the reason many homeschooled teens go back to public school.
When I first started homeschool, I was anxious to make friends and be accepted. My Mom helped out a lot with this problem. She helped me organize activities with other homeschooled teens so I could make friends. We also had a regular “park day”—we all went to the park and played volleyball while the moms talked and the little kids played on the playground. These activities helped me feel comfortable and helped me make some friends. After that, we just did a lot of stuff together on our own. When new homeschoolers came to the activities, we’d include them in our “group” and try to make them feel welcome, too.
Another thing I did to try to make friends, was go part-time to high school. I took a few easy classes—my main reason for going was to get a social life. I soon found out, however, that the kids I was hanging out with at school were not the right type of friends. Also, I learned that if you want to make friends at school, go to the activities, not the classes. School for me wasn’t the answer to making friends.
There are so many homeschooled teens who feel inadequate, like they don’t fit in, because they don’t have a group of friends they can relate to. Often, when I work in our business, people will ask me, “How do you get friends?” “What do you do for your social life?” Here are some of the things I’ve learned from my own experience: First of all, plan activities. Nothing happens when nothing is planned. Take the lead. Parents can help in this too. Think up fun activities, call your friends (or just all the homeschoolers you can find) and make it happen. Don’t be afraid to make calls or invite people you don’t know—how else will you get to know them?
In our area, we’ve organized a homeschool teen committee—3 or 4 others and I have regular meetings and plan out fun activities for the homeschooled teens. We try to invite everyone—it’s great to meet new people! Some examples of activities we’ve planned are dances, skating, sledding, riding horses, canoeing, swimming, sports and service projects. Usually we have a service project before the fun part of our get-together.
When you plan activities, keep in mind their purpose: to get homeschooled teens together and make them feel accepted, that it’s cool to homeschool, and to have fun! Also, don’t fall into the trap of having a clique or not welcoming newcomers. Don’t be afraid to expand the group.
I hope that some of these ideas will help you make friends and feel content with your social life. It has certainly helped me feel confident and accepted to have friends who think the way I do. It’s a lot more fun to homeschool when you have friends to go out with on Friday nights!
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