How to Make Friends When Homeschooled

There are plenty of ways that homeschoolers make friends and engage with their peers, while still reaping the benefits of a homeschool education.

Emily Veno
May 12, 2023

Above, a photo of Prisma learners on a meetup trip to D.C.

“Aren’t homeschool kids weird?”

“How will your kids get socialized if they don’t go to school?”

“That’s cool that you homeschool, but kids need to be around other kids their own age.”

It can be frustrating hearing these comments as a homeschool parent. Many adults have an outdated view of homeschooling based on stereotypes from their youth. But while less than 1% of families homeschooled in the 1980s, the latest estimates show over 7% of families homeschool at least one child.

With nearly 1 in 10 families homeschooling, there’s nothing weird about it! And there are ever-increasing settings for those homeschoolers to meet each other.

Socialization is a concern for homeschooling families, of course—like reading, writing, and math. The whole point of homeschooling is for parents to take on the responsibility traditionally given to the traditional school system. Many adults count on their child’s school to “socialize” them. With the abundance of cliques, bullying, conformity, and peer pressure, homeschool parents might argue this process of socialization is more harmful than beneficial. At Prisma, we’ve designed a virtual school where homeschoolers are led by a learning coach in an intentionally small cohort. Our coaches focus on building uplifting community for healthy socialization. We also focus on developing emotional intelligence, a key driver of successful social skills.

While students in traditional schools have built-in social interaction, homeschooled students need to seek out these opportunities. Just as you design a homeschool schedule, curriculum, and assessment plan, you are responsible for providing enriching socialization!

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways homeschoolers make friends and engage with their peers, while reaping the benefits of a homeschool education.

Tips for Building Friendships as a Homeschooler

Homeschoolers need to be more intentional about friendships than peers in mainstream schools. Anyone interested in building friendships at any age should remember:

  1. The main drivers of friendship formation are proximity and consistency. Think of your own closest friends. You may not have common interests with all of them! Or perhaps you have friends you didn’t connect with right away, but to whom you felt closely bonded over time. Research has shown it takes about 60 hours to build a friendship. Many homeschoolers say finding a consistent group can be challenging. So whatever socialization you choose to do with your child, make it consistent, rather than bouncing from activity to activity. Even if your child doesn’t click with somebody right away, it may just take time.
  2. Quality over quantity. A few close friendships are better than lots of casual acquaintances for building your child’s social skills, especially as they get older than elementary age. They should learn how to form deep bonds, and maintain friendships through different seasons of life. Don’t worry about whether your child has enough friends; instead, ask “Is my child frequently engaging in meaningful socialization?” and “Does my child have at least one or two good friends?”
  3. Mixed-age friendships are a benefit of homeschooling. Homeschoolers are well-known for being better than traditional-schooled peers at interacting with adults. This skill serves them well as they mature and enter the workplace. Encourage your child to develop appropriate friendships with older peers they can look up to, and younger peers they can mentor. However, same-age friendships are important for development, so ensure balance.
  4. Unstructured time is essential for healthy youth friendships. Children of all ages should engage in unstructured socialization, where kids are free to make up their own games, get in healthy disagreements, and create their own fun. Make sure not all of your child’s socialization happens as part of an organized activity. As kids get older, make sure not all socialization occurs with an adult hovering nearby. In traditional schools, preteens and adolescents get plenty of time to hang out together on their own. Gradually, it’s important to show your child that you trust them to handle social interactions independently.


Where to Make Friends as a Homeschooler

Now you know that building friendships takes proximity and consistency. So where do you go to find those opportunities for your homeschooler?

Join a local homeschool group

These organizations are communities of homeschooling families who gather for activities like field trips and playdates. They provide a social network for both the homeschooled children and homeschooling parents, offering an ideal setting for kids to meet friends who are also homeschooled. The best homeschool groups are tight-knit and supportive, organizing regular meet ups and activities catering to a range of ages and interests.

Local homeschool groups can be found through social media, online forums, or even through a simple Google search. If your local community doesn't already have a homeschool group, consider starting one. Even a small group can make a big difference in the social lives of homeschooled students.

One of our favorite place to find local homeschool groups in through Facebook, especially the Secular Eclectic Academic homeschool group.

Homeschool Co-Ops

A homeschool co-op is another excellent resource. Co-ops are usually groups of homeschooling families who share teaching responsibilities. Each homeschool mom or dad might teach a subject they are particularly good at or passionate about. This gives homeschooled students a chance to learn in a group setting, and is a great opportunity to form friendships and learn social skills.

Another variation on homeschool co-ops are called microschools. These operate similarly to homeschool co-ops, but are often run by a certified teacher. KaiPod is a network of microschools where each family chooses individual curriculum. Some KaiPod families choose to use Prisma or another online school as their curriculum provider through KaiPod.

Field Trips

Field trips are another fantastic way for homeschoolers to make friends. Many museums, zoos, and other educational institutions offer special programs or days specifically for homeschooling groups.

But remember, consistency is key in building friendships, especially for older kids. Don’t expect your child to build lifelong friendships at a one-day field trip, but they can be great for younger kids to practice interacting with peers, or as an activity for existing homeschool groups.

Extracurricular Activities

Participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports teams, is another way for homeschooled students to make friends with common interests. Many public schools allow homeschooled children in their district to participate in their extracurriculars.

Also consider private leagues and youth groups that offer sports, performing arts, scouting, and more. This gives homeschooled children the opportunity to engage in team-building activities and to form relationships in a structured environment. The activity that will work best for your child depends on their interests! Although it’s a great idea to push them out of their comfort zone a little bit, they’re unlikely to make deep friendships if they’re not interested in the activity at all.

Classes & Camps

High school homeschoolers might find their local community college opens classes to homeschooled students. This can be an excellent way to experience a more traditional school setting, earn college credit before graduating high school, meet people from different walks of life, and make friends. Prisma’s high school program encourages learners to do this in their local communities.

Summer camps also provide excellent opportunities for homeschooled kids to meet new friends. Summer camps often cater to specific interests, which means your child will already have something in common with the other campers. Overnight camps, if your child is brave enough, are especially good at fostering that unstructured, independent bonding time older kids need.

Virtual Programs

Homeschooling families can also use technology to their advantage. There are numerous apps and online platforms designed to help homeschooled students connect with each other. Social media platforms have numerous groups and forums dedicated to homeschooling.

Beyond full-time virtual programs like Prisma, there are numerous other websites and apps that offer educational and social opportunities for homeschooled students. Some of the most popular include Outschool and Synthesis.

At Prisma, many of our learners enjoy making friends through online games like Roblox (read our post about Roblox here) or Fortnite or creative online platforms like Scratch. Although parent supervision is essential, these virtual opportunities can offer kids the chance to socialize in a different way, even with kids they’ve already met in person.

Community Involvement

In addition to homeschool-specific resources, it's important for homeschooled children to engage with their local community as a whole. This might involve volunteering at a local food bank, participating in community theatre, or joining a youth group at a local place of worship. At Prisma, we do an annual “Change Makers” theme where learners design their own community service project.

While the homeschooling journey can sometimes feel isolating, there are numerous support groups available for both homeschooling parents and homeschooled children. These groups can be found online or in your local community and can offer advice, resources, and companionship. Don't underestimate the value of these support systems; a good friend who understands your unique experiences can be invaluable.

All these avenues for social interaction play a vital role in the development of social skills and friendships for homeschooled children. Just like in a traditional school, these experiences help children learn to navigate social dynamics, work as part of a team, and build lasting relationships.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that making friends as a homeschooler is no different from making friends in any other situation. It requires effort, patience, and a willingness to step outside of one's comfort zone. Whether through a homeschool group, a sports team, or a book club, the key is to find activities that your child enjoys and use them as opportunities to connect with others.

Homeschooling might not provide the same automatic socialization as a regular school, but with a bit of creativity and initiative, homeschooled students can enjoy a rich and fulfilling social life. Remember, it's not about the quantity of friends, but the quality. A good friend, whether met at a homeschool co-op, on a sports team, or at a summer camp, can add immeasurable richness to your child's homeschooling experience and their life as a whole.

As a homeschooling parent, your role is crucial in helping your child navigate their social world. Encourage them to explore their interests, introduce them to new experiences, and support them in their social endeavors. With your support and the myriad of resources available, your homeschooled child can build a vibrant and diverse circle of friends.

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