25 Places For Your Homeschool Teens To Get Social
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25 Places For Your Homeschool Teens To Get Social
As homeschoolers, we sometimes cringe at the “how will your kids socialize” question, but when they become homeschool teens, the struggle can be real.
As our children grow and we seek out relationships for them, peers can sometimes become harder to find as they get older.
Why is it harder to find friends as homeschooled teens get older?
Various reasons. Some suspect that more families homeschool through elementary years than junior high and high school.
Maybe parents give up, perhaps they find more opportunity in outside options, or it’s possible that their children want more of a daily social connection to the world.
Maybe there are just as many teens homeschooling, but they plug into different places for community. Whatever the reason for not being able to find peer connections as easily; it can often seem like fewer homeschoolers are looking to connect as they become older.
As parents, what can we do to help?
For those of us who plan to homeschool all the way through, we have to be intentional in seeking out community for our students. As they mature, they need social interaction to build necessary confidence. I speak not only from personal experience; but as a homeschool consultant, I hear this common struggle often.
For example, my oldest who has been homeschooling since Pre-K is now a teen. She is mature from spending much of her life around adults and a mix of peers, but that experience doesn’t make her immune to the natural desire to feel grounded in solid connections with her peers.
I have spent much of my time seeking out community for her over the years, but as she has gotten older, it has become harder.
I started a local homeschool group years ago to help us to find like-minded families that we could connect with over homeschooling. In the beginning, it was easy, because homeschool families with elementary students are easy to find.
But we have seen many of her friends return to public school, move away, or eventually commit to a private or university model school.
In our efforts to continue to seek out relationships and community rooted in Christ, we still manage to find connections.
So I want to encourage you and give you some creative ideas on where to look for community for homeschool teens to plug in.
Tips for Plugging In
Model good social behavior. If I want my daughter to strike up a chat with a potential friend effortlessly…she has to see me do it. I can’t nudge her to go spark up a conversation if she has never seen mom do it. So over the years, I have taught myself (even though I am naturally introverted) to be social. Your teens will need your assistance, in the beginning, to learn how to meet and make connections. Learning how to introduce yourself, make pleasant small talk, and hold eye contact are all valuable life skills too. It is crucial for you to model and talk to your teen about how to execute these things; especially if they still struggle.
Communicate. I talk to my daughter about different personality types often. She will question why some other girls say the things they do, or why if they are “Christian” they would make hurtful remarks? And I have learned to love when these questions come up, because I used to hate it secretly. You want to shield your children from hurt or discomfort, but these natural differences in children are fantastic for teachable moments. Communication and open dialogue is a beautiful way to help them navigate through making friends.
The personality differences can go a long way in learning to deal with people. Not everyone meets and makes a connection on their first encounter. It is essential to explain to our children that some people ( I am one of them) need more time to build relationship. And others might never meet a stranger, and that is a remarkable attribute to hold, but others may need more time, space, and patience to make solid connections.
Pray. I pray with my daughter before every social interaction. If I am dropping her off at a friends house, a church event, or if we are going together to a homeschool group function. It doesn’t matter where we are going; I want to pray for her and all of her possible encounters. I firmly believe that God puts people in our paths ( I have witnessed it time and again in my own life) and I pray for God to send her the friends and connections that HE wants her to have. We also pray over the event, who she may come in contact with, and anything relevant to the future social interaction.
25 Places for Homeschool Teens to Get Social and Build Relationships
- Homeschool Groups & Homeschool Co-ops
- Church Youth Group
- Homeschool Specific Classes. Ex. Sewing, Art, Dance, Karate, Specific Interest Classes
- Local Community Theatre. Many have homeschool productions that your student can participate in various areas, not only on stage. Think lighting, creating costumes or backdrops.
- Serving + Volunteering
- Dances. Search your local community and it’s possible that there are organized chaperoned homeschool dances.
- Facebook Groups. Reach out in local Facebook groups or neighborhood groups and ask if there are other homeschoolers nearby. Arrange a get together.
- Library. It is no surprise that homeschoolers love the library; making it a great place to meet other local homeschoolers. Many libraries are privy to this information and offer homeschool specific classes or group activities.
- Parks. If you are at a park at noon and you see another family with a teen, it is likely they are also homeschoolers. There is nothing wrong with approaching them and introducing yourselves.
- Homeschool Conventions and Fairs. Take your older children along curriculum shopping or to hear a speaker and there is high probability you could meet other homeschool families that live locally.
- Field Trips
- Homeschool Days. Homeschool days at local museums are great opportunities to seek out other teens and make introductions. You can find other local teens with their families at homeschool days easily. It just requires you to be social and try to make connections; swap phone numbers or email addresses with the other parents.
- 4-H. 4-H is another fantastic option for plugging in to the local community and finding other teens. The other teens will not all be homeschoolers, but it is a great option for building peer connections
- American Heritage Girls, Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts. Contact them directly and you can usually find a homeschool specific troop or one that has a number of homeschoolers.
- Community Centers. Local community centers are another place to find other homeschool teens. Go during school hours and keep an eye out for other teens with their families or ask about activities for teens.
- Reach Out. Contact other homeschoolers you personally know and share with them that you are on the lookout for other homeschooled teens. Tapping into our own homeschool friends is a good way to help one another when we are in need of connections. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to homeschoolers.
- Part – Time Jobs.
- Host an Event. Take the initiative and host a local gathering for homeschool teens in your home or at a local venue.
- Meetup. Meetup has listings for homeschool groups, teen meetups in your area, and other interest specific meetups.
- PE Groups. There is a rise in homeschool physical education groups popping up everywhere these days. For example in our community they have PE classes for all ages and homeschoolers meetup once a week to learn various sports, stretches, and take physical endurance challenges.
- Book Clubs. Search out book clubs for teens at the library or in local homeschooling Facebook groups.
- Public Speaking or Debate. Find a homeschool group or co-op that offers public speaking or debate to meet other teens. Not only is this a good way to meet friends, it will help your teen learn how to get past any shyness or fear of talking to others. Which will certainly come in handy when introducing themselves and trying to connect in the future.
- Christian Teen Camp Counselors. Taking community service or volunteering to another level could be volunteering as a camp counselor in the summer. What a wonderful way to connect with some other teens, be a role model for younger children, and strengthen your faith while serving.
As a homeschool group leader I have planned and hosted hundreds of local events; not every event will be a hit. Not every event lifelong friendships are formed. I encourage you to keep trying, keep plugging in and seeking out community for your homeschool teens!
I hope some of these suggestions spark some creative ideas for you and your teen to plug into your local community.