I know homeschoolers make a lot of jokes and roll their eyes at the "what about socialization?" question, but it's not an absurd thing to wonder about. Having moved a child from public to private to homeschool....I get it. It was quite a transition for her to go from constantly being surrounded by others her age, to being home with Mom and her little sister.
Of course we didn't stay home alone every day. We got involved in the homeschooling community around us and boy, what a blessing they were over the years! So if you are considering or starting homeschooling, know that it's not a dumb thing to worry about. Here are some ways you can build a learning community around your child/family.
Co-ops--Short for "cooperatives", these are organized groups of homeschooling families coming together to teach their children collectively. Some tackle the basic academic subjects, while others provide the extra fun classes. We've been involved a co-op so large it felt like attending private school once a week. We've also gotten together for our own co-op with just two other families. They can be as big or small as you make them. Visit this site to find a list of some co-ops near you. Just click on your state. Nothing nearby you? Start a co-op of your own!
Paid homeschool classes--Some parents prefer to (or need to) pay someone else to teach their child in certain subjects (common ones: math, science, writing). These classes will meet regularly for a semester or entire school year and give your child a class of other students to belong to.
Homeschool Groups--These are groups that exist for the social stuff like field trips, parties, park days, and fun and learning experiences. When we first started homeschooling, our homeschool group was a HUGE blessing. Our formerly public-schooled daughter was very concerned about missing class parties and our group celebrated all the holidays together. Getting together for park days or gym days each week was something we all looked forward to. We made great friendships during those years.
Book Clubs--We were blessed with an invitation to a bookclub that lasted for years. Long enough, in fact, for several of my kids to age out and younger sisters to replace them. We simply read the assigned book at home, then got together with the whole book club to discuss, answer questions, do crafts, eat snacks, and have a blast. If there was a movie adaptation, we watched that together too. Pinterest is FULL of ideas for fun book clubs.
Be Hospitable--Maybe you don't want to be involved in something formally or that meets every week. Why not just invite a different family over every month? Let the kids play or do a craft while the moms visit. Some of those families may turn into lifelong friends. You won't know unless you spend some time together.
Let's not forget about older folks--My parents were a huge blessing to our homeschool. My dad did science experiments with the girls, gave us money each year to buy educational things, and just generally supported us. Not everyone has that situation, but connecting with an elderly neighbor or church member can be such a blessing to you and your children. Is there an older person who can teach your children to bake? To play the piano? Intergenerational relationships are more possible when kids aren't spending their whole day with others who were born in the same year. Spending time with others of all ages is so important!
These are just a few of the ideas for building up a community of other homeschoolers around you. Once you make those connections, you will feel encouraged and not alone. Moms can swap babysitting when they have a doctor's appointment. You know you've found a true friend when you can drop your kids AND THEIR SCHOOLWORK off with another mom.
You will likely remain friends with many public school families, but there are many blessings that come from connecting with other homeschoolers. And if you are an established homeschooling family, don't forget to reach out to those new ones who may be wondering, "what about socialization?"