No, they won’t be lonely!
It’s probably the first thing you heard when you told people you planned to homeschool. But what about socialisation? How will they meet children their own age? Will they be lonely? Maybe no one has asked you that, but the worry has kept you awake. Well have no fear. Children all over the UK and the world are being homeschooled and are making friends, breaking friends and learning all the tricky bits of being a social animal just fine - all without mainstream school. Let us tell you how.
It’s true that your homeschooled child will have friends but it is also true that the pressure of this does fall on the parents more than that of mainstream educated children. There your friends are packaged up and ready to go. They are the other children your own age who live close by, but there is no guarantee that they will be your people, that you’ll feel accepted or that you won’t feel alone. Without school you have to find your gang, which can take time and effort, however there is joy to be found in this. Seeking out new groups of people, feeling the fear and doing it anyway - this can all be a bonding experience between you, your children and the people that you meet. So don’t be put off by the effort, or scared that it’ll be hard. Helping your child make friends may prove to be just as beneficial to you.
Join a Local Sports Team
It seems so obvious but so many people assume that sports teams and schools are linked and in the vast majority of cases this isn’t true. Your child is just as welcome as any other and while some children there may already know each other from school it is well documented that team sports drive people together and bonding happens that much quicker, not to mention the benefits of physical education and teamworking skills. So whether it’s hockey, rugby or a kick about in the local park, sports is often the easiest first step.
Local councils will often have helpful links on their website to sports teams, which sport you can choose may be affected by your area there will almost certainly be a wide choice. Sit down with your child and discuss which one may suit them best and don’t put too much pressure on the sport itself. It’s about getting out there, giving something a go and feeling a part of something. You don’t have to be the MVP to come out of it a winner.
If your child is differently abled or has any SEND needs don’t be put off. Research some of the larger sports clubs in your area as many are now providing funded provision which can range from physically adapted sports to just getting out in the fresh air and running around with other children. Our local rugby team here in Manchester, Sale Sharks, hosts an amazing initiative called Tackle Together which promotes inclusivity in sports. Their rugby team called the Sharks Crusaders Fin Club for children with down's syndrome gets together on a Sunday to learn rugby basics, teamwork, social skills but above all else just to have good time. While these events may not be as frequent as others it shows that any child can be educated at home, and there is the support out there for you if you choose to. You can find out more about Sale Sharks Fin Club here.
Find Your Local Homeschooling Community
Families who are just starting out in homeschooling can often feel alone. Most of us are the first people in our families to make the choice to homeschool and are unsure of where to find others who have also made the decision. And while social media can be a place some of us are trying to get away from, Facebook is an incredible hub of thriving homeschooling communities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of families are gathering in groups and organising group trips, sharing helpful tips and being the village some of us have been dreaming of. There are often incredible people who contact museums to try and gain a group discount or who organise their own woodland walks. Whether you see yourself at the forefront of organisation or love the idea of piggybacking on what's already been done, you are sure to find places and activities for all interests, and lots of other children interested in them too.
It’s wonderfully simple to type in your area and add homeschool in the search bar. Start with your local area and if there doesn’t seem to be a community there gradually expand your search until you find the one closest to you. You may find that within that larger group is a subsection of families who are very near to you. And remember that online friends can still be amazingly enriching so if it does seem that unfortunately there isn’t that hub nearby, join one of the larger nationwide groups and see if your child would enjoy any of the virtual meetups. This can be especially helpful for anyone that has chosen homeschooling due to a more nomadic lifestyle. Most groups will ask you a few questions and you have to wait to be approved but this does mean that you can feel more comfortable sharing once in the group. They are usually very well moderated for spam and you can use it as much or as little as you and your kids need.
'Homeschooling: Official UK Community (Free Support for Parents)' is a great UK based group to start with.
While almost all homeschooled families have made the choice in order to spend more time together, there is no denying that sometimes it can be nice to have a week's activity booked, out of the house, where you as the parent aren’t needed. Half term camps and Summer Camps can be an amazing help in providing lots of excitement with a minimal amount of effort from you. Local sports teams, theatre clubs and sometimes homeschool co-ops can offer these, and although they can range from affordable to, let’s say pricey, they are places for your children to make lasting memories and friends.
Eton Academy is hosting a Manchester based Summer Camp, from 21st July to 30th July 2024. The camp hosts students internationally as well as from the UK and offers children the chance to make friends and engage with people from all around the world and from other cultures and backgrounds, while taking part in activities such as kayaking, go karting and a trip to Manchester United Football ground. For our information page, how to secure your place and the options for children who are Manchetser based, within the UK and beyond, click here.
While making friends with other children is important, a big reason why many choose to homeschool is the opportunity for your children to meet a wide variety of people of all ages and from all walks of life. Taking part in a local litter pick up, helping out at the theatre tuck shop or creating a link with a retirement home close by can encourage your kids to learn to effectively communicate with adults as well as children. This isn’t to say that there won’t be other children there to play with but it shows the breadth of what socialisation really is. It’s knowing the people in your community, whatever shape that may take, and knowing how to relate to them. This is the gift that we hope to bring to our homeschooled children.
Here at Eton Academy we take our children's social skills seriously and we create opportunities in and outside the classroom for our students to grow their empathy and communication skills and begin the journey to learn how to make lifelong friends. We’re proud to say that many of our students have made very close ties with those in their lessons. Two students have flown across a country to meet, two more found that they only lived a few blocks apart and now visit each other regularly and all share numbers and arrange online meet ups on sites such as Roblox. So if you are feeling the pressure of arranging social events and feel that your family would benefit from your children meeting some like minded friends don’t hesitate to get in touch and see what personalised packages we can offer.
School doesn’t have to be an all or nothing and we feel that online school and Eton Academy in particular really does offer the best of both worlds.