Homeschooling is tough when you’re first starting. I was a traveling homeschooler between the ages of 6 and 9, then went into a Schooling System for 10, 12, and 13. Now a couple months from turning 17, I’m a year and a half away from completing “High School”. But if you’re starting 1st grade, transitioning from Public School to Homeschooling at 14, or a parent thinking about homeschooling their kids, these are some things I’ve learned (with added wisdom from my parents) about homeschooling.
Its no secret that making friends and getting out of the house is the biggest challenge that a family can face when they’re starting to homeschool. The first thing you need to know for sure before starting is exactly how you’re going to fulfill your social needs. When pondering about this, don’t go crazy thinking that you need 7 hours of social life like in a “normal” school day. You don’t. Though different for every human being, the time we need to spend with people isn’t a ridiculous amount like that.
When I first arrived to Malaysia, my Mom and I looked up different things that were going on here. You can be surprised what you’ll find when you start looking online, because I didn’t expect to be able to take after-school classes at an International School 5 minutes away from where I live. Much less Debate, Acting, and Impromptu. In Malaysia. The classes were a great way to meet people, but this wasn’t where we stopped. After a couple months I was taking violin lessons weekly, in an exercise group 5 times a week, and had made friends to hang out with on the weekends. Now over a year later, I think I’ve learned a couple things that could’ve made it easier:
- W H E N Y O U first arrive to a new place, its a good idea not to be too choosy about your friends. That doesn’t mean take whoever will befriend you, but lets be honest, you’re not in a position to be up-ity. Without betraying you’re values (don’t do stupid things to get people to like you), you can find people you genuinely get along with. Maybe even someone you wouldn’t expect. Because honestly, a best friend isn’t going to magically fall out of the sky.
- W H I C H I S why you’re going to join every possible activity out there. Even if its a flute class and you’re more of a trumpet kinda guy. You’ve gotta suck it up (no pun intended) and give yourself a month or two. Even if it kinda stinks in the beginning, which it will because being the new kid isn’t easy. This is a good idea for so many reasons, but mine are that it throws you into groups of people that otherwise you’d never meet, and also lets you do something you wouldn’t normally try. But you can find people, who even if you don’t want to “hang” with them outside of whatever group/activity brought you together, you can enjoy them enough in the activity itself.
The definition of Homeschooling to me is Balance, on all sides of the spectrum. Which means that once you have your social aspect set up, you can’t be ignoring any important things because of it. Nothing new, but having lots of friends isn’t more important then paying attention and learning in your studies. So to help set you up beforehand, or when you first get there:
- L O O K U P anything and everything online. Not only should you look for other homeschoolers in the place you live or are going to live in, but check out the classes you’re willing to take and get into that look like they would be diverse and full of people similar to yourself. Then mix these with classes you’re really interested in, which will help get you out of the house.
- A S K A R O U N D when you get there. If you meet other homeschoolers, maybe they’ll know something that you’d be interested in. I volunteered at a Spay and Neuter Clinic twice a year for a couple of weeks at a time, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. And I wouldn’t of know about it if it wasn’t for locals, because things like that won’t pop up in Google.
And thats about it socially. Homeschooling is complex, even if you aren’t traveling anywhere while you’re doing it. Just make sure you relax, be yourself, and don’t miss out on an opportunity because you’re nervous. You’re not the only one who has had to go through this, and you won’t be the last.
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