We’ve been homeschoolers for almost two years. We’re no longer trying this lifestyle on for size. It’s a thing at our house.
I finally feel confident that I’ve got this teacher mama gig covered. My kids are learning and growing. We are adjusting to life outside of the constricts of the public school system. (All this freedom can make you a bit loopy.)
When we left school I felt a certain amount of trepidation that that I had bit off more than I could chew. Maybe a side of anxiety was thrown in that my kids might miss out on some experience that was crucial to their childhood.
Such is parenting that just as I begin to feel at peace about these issues a new one pops up.
My oldest will begin his ninth grade year next fall. (How did that happen? Time slow down.) My second son will be at the beginning of his middle school career.
The questions are beginning about high school, middle school, the end of this crazy homeschool stunt.
Random acquaintances that didn’t question homeschool for little kids finally have to pipe up. High school, middle school; I mean this is serious stuff.
What about girls and dating?
How will they get to experience prom?
What about time with friends?
How will they ever make friends if they aren’t with kids their own age everyday?
I’m not gonna pretend I haven’t had these same thoughts.
I’m not even going to suggest that homeschooling doesn’t come with some tradeoffs. There is good and bad in any situation.
Do homeschool kids miss out on some typical childhood experiences? Maybe.
I have no question that academically my kids are excelling and learning. I think these social questions still keep running through my mind because we spent so long in the public system. This idea that kids must be only be with other kids the exact same age as themselves for forty hours a week or risk being a social pariah is a little nuts.
But at the same time it is hard to let go of doing what pretty much everyone else is doing.
(Hint; There’s a lesson in that sentence. One I’m consistently trying to teach my kiddos. Do not feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. )
Do what is right for you.
As a grown up it is pretty easy to say that. It’s not quite as easy to put into action. But as a teen (or tween) it’s even harder. At an age when everyone strives not to be different my kids all automatically have this big different thing about them.
And I love that!
Homeschool kids and public school activities DO mix, at least in Ohio.
We are lucky to live in a state that allows homeschooled students to participate in activities within their district. My kids are active. We are always on the go taking someone to some kind of practice or game.
Being able to stay connected to friends with daily athletic and club practices was kind of a deal breaker for my kids when we left the system. Life feels less weird because those connections are active and almost daily in occurrence.
On the outside looking in? That’s okay.
When we get to said practice my kids are not in the know about who said what at school. They maybe are a little bit on the “outside” of the social circle.
And honestly, I think it’s a pretty great place for them to be. They have friends. They go places and have friends over. But at the same time they can bob and weave in and out of those social circles with no trouble.
No one feels pressured to be a part of anything they don’t want to be.
My kids spend plenty of time with kids, both friends and teammates, but they also have time left over for family and other grownups. Life is not all peers all the time. I think that’s a dangerous place for a kid to live. It’s a place that’s easy to lose perspective.
Some friendships DO fade away.
Okay, honestly, this point is mostly a positive.
When they were enrolled in public school my kids always had a couple of close friends with a few additional friends on the “fringe.” These were the kids they hung out with at school but that’s pretty much where it stopped. Maybe we didn’t know the family well, or we did and didn’t want to know them better.
The friendships that have stood the test of missing two years of daily contact at school were the good ones. The friendships that are worthwhile to my kids are the ones that we invest in and make a point of helping to nurture.
If some superficial friends drop off along the way, well, I’m okay with that.
Quality over quantity, right?
Different is okay, desirable, even something to shoot for!
I hope my kids can learn that earlier rather than later. Being the odd man out doesn’t always feel good. But in lots of areas it is necessary to stand up for what you believe in even when it may not be the popular point of view.
While there are some things my older homeschooled kids may miss out on I love that they are learning to be themselves. Real friends will stick around for that!
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