Help Your Homeschooler Blossom Socially

The mere mention of the word "socialization" makes many homeschool parents roll their eyes and say, "Here we go again!" Although it's easy to grow numb after repeated conversations with non-homeschoolers, that doesn't eliminate the truth that learning how to socialize and make friends is an important part of growing up for any child.

As homeschool parents, we're responsible not only for teaching quality academics, but also for giving our children the tools and opportunities to meet and make friends with others. If your children's personalities make them hesitant in making friends, consider these suggestions:

Where to Find Friends
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).

When it comes to gardening, not all soil is created equally. Without the right nutrients and conditions, seeds will rot in the ground or produce poor-performing plants. In order to flourish in their friendships, your children also need to be planted into the right situations. Here are a few suggested places to find fun and fellowship:

    • Homeschool support groups
    • Sports teams
    • Book clubs
    • Homeschool co-ops
    • Volunteer work
    • Art classes
    • Church groups
    • Part-time jobs
    • Community theatres and choirs
    • Summer Bible camps
How to Be a Friend
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24a).

Like seeds in a garden, friendships start with the right mixture of warmth, fertilizer, and personal attention. To help your children succeed in making friends, help them remember a few key things when meeting new people.

    Be natural - Mastering your body language may be hard at first. A stiff posture makes you appear unapproachable. Crossing your arms and legs can make others think you're defensive. Relax your body, and your mind will relax, too. Also, be sure to present a welcoming smile when you introduce yourself.

    Tell the truth - Resist the urge to puff yourself up. Exaggerating about who you are or what you've done is a turn off to most people. There's no need to lie. Respect yourself for who God made you to be.

    Listen - Life isn't all about you. Give the person you're meeting a chance to tell his story and share what interests him. After all, God created you with two ears and only one mouth.

    Speak clearly - Talking too loudly or quietly can be annoying. One-word responses and mumbling doesn't help a conversation. Instead, respond in complete sentences or phrases. Then, add a question for the other person at the end to keep the conversation flowing.

    Water the friendship - Whether by email, social media, phone, or letters, staying in touch is important to growing a friendship. With your parents approval, determine when and how you can get together again with your new friend.
What to Look for in a Friend
"Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man" (Proverbs 20:6)?

Just as colorful garden plants attract the most focus, it's easy for young people to be attracted to flamboyant personalities. Even in homeschool settings, children with the most outgoing natures seem to get all the attention, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll make the best friends. Rather than basing choices on a person's age or outward appearances, teach them what qualities they should look for in a true friend.

    • A real friend is someone you can trust.
    • A real friend encourages you to be your best.
    • A real friend is honest, trustworthy, kind, loyal, and respectful.
    • A real friend forgives you when you make a mistake.
    • A real friend doesn't try to control how you think or act.
    • A real friend is a positive influence and hopeful about the future.
    • A real friend respects himself and avoids taking dangerous risks.
    • A real friend doesn't pressure you into doing things that are wrong.
    • A real friend is compassionate and cares about your hurts.
    • A real friend accepts you just as you are.
    • A real friend shares your dreams and supports you in your goals.
    • A real friend is a great listener and attentive to your likes and dislikes.
    • A real friend "sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24) and is with you in good times and bad.
What life lessons have your children learned about making friends while homeschooling? Please share them in the comment section below.

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