When I first started homeschooling my biggest worry was friends. I have a very social son. He told me all the time that he needed more friends, and I spent a lot of time feeling guilty.
Now that I have a few years under my belt, friends are not nearly the problem for me that they were at the beginning. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Kids don’t get to talk at school. Teachers report that kids are starved for social interaction in school. Unstructured time is where kids make friends. These activities are often open to homeschoolers. My son plays pickup basketball with the school kids after school, and he knows all the kids who play. In the summer he goes swimming at the city pool, and he knows all the kids there, too.
Kids don’t keep friends at school when they change classrooms. So many times kids are friends just because a teacher sat them together at the beginning of the year. But those friendships don’t run deep. And besides, if you talk too much with your friend then the principal will separate you into different classes for the next year so classrooms are quieter.
Kids make friends through shared interests. Real friends are those who like to do what you want to do. This is how adults make friends and it makes complete sense that kids would make friends that way as well. So the important thing to do is help your kids find their interests. The friends come easily after that.
So my super-social son has music friends and sports friends and friends for playing online games. But something I’ve noticed is that he never has enough friends. He loves being around people. He loves having a party. All the time.
So he’s always worried he doesn’t have enough friends. It’s a problem, and we’re working on it. But I think it might be like I’m always worried I don’t have enough time to read. We each have our areas of insatiability, and no magical format of homeschooling can assuage that.