5 Ways We Make Sure Our Kids Are Socialized

When I was halfway through my 4th grade year, my parents chose to begin homeschooling.

This was back in the 80s (I believe 1984) when few people were homeschooling, it was odd and strange and people had a million questions.

The most common question for homeschoolers is "What about socialization. How will your children socialize?"

I can assure you, that even in the early 1980s when there were no homeschool coops, we were well socialized.

We had friends on our street with whom we socialized daily; we had church friends with whom we socialized at least two times a week - sometimes more, if we had sleep overs and play dates.



Now that we've chosen to homeschool our son, I'm being asked that same question.

I will start off by saying that I think that children should go to public school for socialization is a straw man argument.

Given the homework load my oldest child is given daily, he gets very little time for socialization before or after school.

Also, given the scant free time he has in school, he's also not socializing much there either - and I don't consider sitting in a classroom with a dozen kids your age, listening to a teacher lecture "socialization".

The most obvious way our kids could get socialization would be to play with the kids on our street, but sadly during the school year (which makes up 3/4 of the year) our neighborhood is a ghost town.

Between homework and sports practices, its rare to see kids playing outside at all.

I'll be honest and say that this makes me very sad - because on one hand we're told how important it is for kids to play outside and play together, on the other hand our kids' lives are too busy to do either.

5 Ways We Make Sure Our Kids Are Socialized

But lest critics may think that my son's socialization isn't of concern to me - it is. 

I want him to have friends, to play with friends, to have that need for human interaction with his peers met in his life.

It is important.

1. Playdates and movie nights

Often on Friday nights we darken the whole house and make the living a "cinema" and watch a movie together. 

I make homeade pizza and loads of popcorn. Sometimes I even create props to make it extra special.

Sometimes this is a family night, but often our kids will invite friends.

Usually when they invite friends it turns into more of a playdate than a movie night -- because who wants to watch a movie when you can build amazing creations out of Legos or huge railways for Thomas the Train?

2. Go to the park or indoor playground

We have a lot of parks where we are. 

One of our son's friends lives on the street of a park that is very near us, so I'll usually give his mom a head's up when we plan to visit that park.

Other times we head to another park and let our kids meet new friends.

On rainy days or in the winter I take them to our local mall where we have an indoor playground. It is free for 2 hours and we know most of the staff there.

Again, it's a great opportunity for them to meet new friends.

3. Go to the library

One of our local libraries has a lot of activties for kids.

Each Monday night they have a book reading for kids followed by art projects; and sometimes they do board games on Saturdays.

This is something I plan to do more of this summer.

4. Church

This one, for us, is not always easy because we drive an hour one-way to get to church.

However, it is a priority for us; especially considering that we are able to only attend on Sundays. I try to stay longer after service is over so my kids have more time to play with the kids that they've grown up with.

5. Special Activities

Whether it's our church's annual church picnic or a special kids' program at church; summer camp or "kid's cinema day" in our little town..

Perhaps a day at the zoo or mini fair down the street.

I try to make sure my kids are there!

It does make for busy weekends sometimes, but it is important.

But what is more important is the fact that my kids don't only socialize with their peers. They also get great opportunities to socialize with kids that aren't their age.
  • With the 2-year old precious girl across the street; with whom they're learning to be gentle.
  • With the older children at church; from whom they learn to pay greater attention to more adult conversation.
  • With adults that come and visit our home; from whom they are learning to carry on less juvenile conversation
This is the benefit of not relying on school to socialize your children.

I believe all parents - whether of children who attend public school or are homeschooled - should make an effort to help their children develop friendships and learn to relate with people of all ages.

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