The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a homeschooling parent, I spend lots of time with my kids. When they were younger, we tended to be in the house much more than we are now. Naps and, quite frankly, fewer outside the home commitments meant my days were very kid-focused.
Sometimes, an entire day could go by without me talking to another friend. My husband would arrive home and I may have overwhelmed his introverted self with ALL the details of our day.
Cultivating friendships during your homeschool journey is crucial. Yes, even for introverts! Connecting with others, sharing stories, asking for advice, giving advice, laughing, crying, and supporting one another makes your days so much sweeter.
To keep things interesting, I think it's important to have a diverse mix of friends in your circle. Check out my list below for the 5 types of friends every homeschooling parent needs.
5 Types of Friends Every Homeschooling Parent Needs
Veteran homeschooler: When I first started homeschooling, I surrounded myself with people who had actually been homeschooling for a few years or more. They were a treasure trove of information and inspiration! I jumped into a local homeschooling group and soaked up all the goodness.
There were a few mamas, in particular, who were so generous with their time, their homes and their supplies. I was overwhelmed and excited and appreciated their guidance. Veteran homeschooling parents can answer questions, be a sounding board for your concerns, offer advice, and give a hug and high five.
New homeschooler: Guess what? After you put in a few years (or ten) you'll become a veteran homeschooler and you can befriend a NEW homeschooling parent. It's a beautiful thing!
You've been there and done that with all the homeschooling things, you can offer up support, laughs, ideas to newbie homeschoolers. Connect with them in person or in your online groups. When a new homeschooler joins your group, especially if it's a local, in-person group, say hello, get to know them, see how you can help them get comfortable. It makes a huge difference.
A side note: I am seeing more and more families deciding to homeschool their older children. They are taking their middle schoolers or high schoolers out of the traditional education system. This can be a scary time. They know they want a different path for their kids, but adolescent and teen years can be challenging and then you throw in homeschooling on top of it. Seek out these new families. Encourage them to come to activities or a movie night or to go out for pizza.
Non-homeschooling friend: Some of my closest friends do not homeschool (and some do not even have children). You've got to have friends who do not homeschool. I am sticking by this.
Is home educating a huge part of my life? Yes. But, it's not who I am (entirely) and I had friends long before I was a homeschooler or a mama. We cannot and should not talk about homeschooling all the time.
Make friends with others who have similar hobbies, or connect with neighbors or volunteer organizations. I think this is important for your kids to see as well. Show them that your friend circle encompasses a wide variety of people from different backgrounds.
Same homeschooling season life friend: These parents probably make up the largest portion of your friend group. Your kids are in are similar ages, you can swap curricula, share ideas, go on field trips together, have playdates or park days, and more. You can lean on these friends and encourage each other because they just get it.
They get the challenges of teaching littles to read or the sudden moodiness of middle schoolers or the worry that can come along with homeschooling high school. Be sure you have friends from a variety of homeschooling backgrounds too! I love that my same homeschooling season of life friends run the gamut of homeschool philosophies and styles. I learn so much from all of them.
Online homeschooling friend: Oh, the joys of online homeschooling friends! Thanks to technology, I've cultivated some very dear friendships online. Truly! And even better? I've been able to meet many of these amazing women in person over the last few years.
Between various social media, apps, and texting and the phone (yes, I actually still have person-to-person phone calls), I talk to my online homeschooling friends every day. I love being able to just shoot a message to a friend whenever.
Online friendships have been so nourishing for my soul and we talk about topics way beyond educating our kids. I've collaborated on a few work projects, chatted on podcasts, and more. 21st-century friendships are fantastic!
Home educating your children cannot be done in a bubble. Community, connection, and communication are key. Friends, both in-person and online, make for smoother days.
Knowing there are other homeschooling parents you can reach out to with questions or concerns is crucial. Bringing light and compassion and laughter into someone else's day is pretty great too. Offering your input, advice, your shoulder or a hot mug of tea can turn someone's day around.
Reach out to your friends today and let them know you appreciate them.