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?
Finding and connecting with other homeschooled 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 (raising my hand), 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. My family and I live in a very homeschool-friendly area with oodles and oodles of homeschoolers of all ages and clubs, social events, and more. I know how lucky we are and I don't take that for granted. I also know this is definitely not everyone's experience.
It's import 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 these five ways to connect with other homeschooling teens
I'm sharing five ways that you and your teens can connect with others to help build friendships and communities. 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 middle school and 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: Our twins have played on our local homeschool basketball teams for four years. Our area has baseball, football, volleyball, soccer and more. You can check out this website to find homeschool sports teams in your area. Not only do they get tons of exercise, they are connected to a large group of other teens. If you don't have homeschool sports in your area, look into starting a sports club or even a team!
- Start a club: If you build it, they will (hopefully) come. One year, I hosted a middle school geography club. I've also hosted a book club and poetry clubs. My children have participated in other clubs as well that other parents/teens have started. It only takes a two or three kids to start a club and form a connection around something they all like. Depending on the number of kids, you could find a central location to meet, or swap houses each week or month.
- 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 the places we've met 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. Be sure to check your state's homeschool laws too!
Consider these non-homeschool related ideas
For our family, non-homeschool related options have also worked well for us. 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 programs
- Attending community programs (scouting, 4H, faith-based, etc.)
- Acting in local theater productions
- Working or volunteering at local day camps (this has been a great source of connecting and friendships for my oldest son)
Know that connections and friendships take work
No matter where you are on the homeschooling journey, connections and friendships take work and time and dedication. You might swing and miss a few times before you it a home run and connect with a group that fulfills your teens needs. Don't be discouraged!
Get creative, get your teens involved, and get realistic about the options around you.
Quickstart for Homeschooling High School
- College-Bound Course Planning for Homeschooling High School
- All About Homeschool Transcripts (and a Free Template)
- Do Homeschoolers Need a Diploma?
- Using an Online Homeschool Program for High School
- Do You Need to Use an Accredited Homeschool Program?
- Bad News/Good News of Starting Homeschooling in High School
- Resources for Homeschooling High School When Mom’s Not the Expert
- Homeschooling High School When Your Child is College Bound
- Homeschooling High School When Your Child is NOT College Bound
Have you succeeded in finding groups and friends for your homeschooling teen? Let us know what worked for you in the comments.