I'm WAYYYY late getting around to this topic that I promised to blog about forever ago. Maybe nobody notices or cares (LOL) but it is something I wanted to write about.
One of my major concerns when starting homeschool was how to keep our social butterfly alive and thriving. My husband especially had concerns as he is Brazilian and had never heard of home school or known any home schooled children before this. He envisioned a "geeky" socially inept, friendless, lonely child who wouldn't be able to throw or kick a ball to save her life.
If you read my very first post (archived) then you know that we had put our 6yo in a Montessori school for 3 mornings a week. Then we whittled it down to 2 mornings a week. the school made special arrangements to accommodate our budget in that way. And when things kept getting tighter, we just cut Montessori all together and that's when I got really serious about learning how to implement montessori techniques at home.
That's also when I had to get really serious about supplementing her social calendar to compensate for the lack of contact at a school.
Here's what we've done to keep our 6yo connected.
1. Our YMCA runs a program called HomeZone and we LOOOVE it. Once a week she goes there for art/gym/swim. It's a 2.5 hour block and she has met some nice kids there. I don't think we have made any real "friends" that we connect with outside of the YMCA, but it's a great group setting where she is involved in team activities and projects. It's divided into Fall, Winter and Spring sessions. Each session costs about $85. Some school districts provide vouchers to students in the public virtual academy to off set the cost but our lovely district does not. What ever..... I'm done beating my head against the district wall on that subject.
2. Ballet. We found a very affordable ballet school and she enjoyed that very much until this spring when she all of a sudden decided that she didn't like it anymore. Hm. I wondered if I should be hard nosed and make her stick out the year. But I thought, no....she gave it a good college try. She performed. She discovered that ballet is not her cup of tea, so let's move on. And move on we did.
3. We moved on to parks and recs soccer. It's a 9-week session and is more affordable than other private soccer schools. SHe LOVES it. It's a great way for her to learn sportsmanship, team work, and physical skill. These are things that I cannot really provide at home so we gladly pay the fee.
4. Most recently we have discovered a FREEEE 4-H club at a wonderful working farm just 20 minutes from here run by a very sweet elderly couple that has a passion for farming and kids. My daughter LOVES animals so this was perfect. Once a week she goes to the farm for 2 hours with appx 5-10 other kids (she's the youngest and I think that's fine) to work with the animals. She is becoming a poultry expert and will be showing chickens at several county fairs this summer.
5. For a while we had been doing Friend Friday. This involved having one of her friends over for a play date on Friday mornings. This gets tougher as she gets older and most of her friends are in public kindergarten. Friday is sometimes our field trip day as well so we go to public places where other children are likely to be.
6. This might sound really lame, but when I go work out I drop my kids off at our club's child care for an hour. My husband does as well. And believe it or not, the kids have made an excellent friend through this. We met another family there with a child my daughter's age and they play racquetball together with their fathers each Friday night at our health club. We've had play dates at the park and been to each other's b.day parties too. Definitely made a real friend there.
7. We have a terrific network of friends at church. There is a very special organization for children that has weekly Sunday meetings and periodic activities. This is KEY to our social well being. We never miss a church activity because our friends there are the lifeblood of our social network.
8. I've often wondered what response I'd get if I offered to run a children's book club, a cooking club, or some other sort of club. My main goal would be to have children at the house in an attempt to foster friendship and learning at the same time. Maybe this summer I can work on that. I have had phobias about getting in way over my head and not being able to make it interesting or organized enough. I keep meaning to read books like Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out. Again, might make some good summer reading.
So there you have it. That's the crux of our social calendar. And believe me, it keeps me plenty busy. There are times when she tells me that she misses her friends at Montessori, and she is sad when a friend cannot come play because they are at school. But on the whole, I think we're doing ok. I would like to do more but time and money are always in measured supply.
I'd LOVE to hear about how others keep their children socially satisfied while doing home school.