In the homeschool community, it is common knowledge that one of the best ways to expose your children to social situations is to join a homeschool group. In fact, socializing your children is one of the most cited reasons to hesitate before embarking on the path of homeschooling children. Homeschool groups provide friendship, support, field trips, educational and social opportunities and can be a highly enriching. But, what if you live in an area where there are no homeschool groups, or there are no homeschool groups that are a good fit for your family?
Some areas of the country simply do not have any established homeschool groups. Public or private school may be the dominant educational practice in the area, so none have been established. Another possible problem, though, is that the homeschool groups in your area cater to a particular segment of the population and you are not a part of that segment. This is particularly prevalent when it comes to spiritual beliefs. There are many homeschool groups that are centered around a particular belief system or religion and require a statement of faith to join. Even if they do not require a statement of faith, it may be uncomfortable for the family who does not fit in. There are ways to get around these problems, though.
You can always create your own homeschool group. It can be as formal as a membership based group with 501(c)(3) status or as casual as advertising weekly play dates in a local park. You may be surprised at how many hidden homeschoolers there are in your area, each lamenting the lack of homeschool group. The phrase “if you build it, they will come” is especially applicable when it comes to a lack of homeschool groups in your location. All homeschool groups started out with an idea and someone willing to organize it. Consider BASH: Bexar/Atascosa Secular Homeschoolers. This group was established in March 2014 simply because there was a gap in the homeschool community. The founders of this group were uncertain if there would be enough interest but after a month, they had a solid base and are growing steadily. You, too, can create a homeschool group if you desire.
If you do not want to create your own homeschool group, though, you will need to think outside the box a bit. Consider that there are ample extracurricular activities for public school students. You may want to think about joining in on those types of activities. Sports teams, orchestras, clubs and classes are ideal social situations for your homeschooler. If your child is interested in martial arts, dancing or gymnastics, take a group class and you will see friendships blossom. If you have a musically inclined child, get them into a youth orchestra or marching band. Check with your local library and see what programs they have available. Join a math, foreign language or gaming club. When you set your mind to it, you may find that there are more opportunities for socialization than you may have immediately thought. Once you put your mind to it, your children will have plenty of friends.