Friends, I am writing to you today straight from a tender heart. It is tender because I am coming up on a season of our lives in which I will need to help my sweet almost ten-year old girl make new friends and create new homeschooling circles of her own in the community to which we are moving. It is tender because this is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I know we will be dealing with a lot of emotions along the way.
She will be leaving behind some of the coolest friends she could ever have! I couldn’t have chosen better if I had hand picked them myself. Luckily, when I say “leaving behind,” I don’t mean permanently. We will be within approximately one hour’s driving distance, which will still allow for get-togethers, meet-in-the-middles and such. But the easy “Hey, we just finished school and have a few hours…can Mary come over?” won’t be there.
And it won’t just be hard for her. She is not the only one leaving sweet friends behind. Even though our friendships are cemented in different ways as adults, and we do not depend on a mom to take us somewhere to see those friends, I will still miss the quick get-togethers for tea and conversation that will be a little harder these days….so I too need a new tribe!
And this will be hard. I know it will be. I have no illusions about that.
But it will also be amazing and full of new possibilities. God has given our family this wonderful opportunity to live in a beautiful area of our city, with Grandma eventually on the property (once we get everything built), and in a place with a vibrant homeschooling community that has opportunities unique to this geographical area. This has been on our hearts for quite some time, and it seems as though the timing is now right for all involved.
So I have formulated a plan to help both of us find our new homeschooling circles! And I’d love to share it with you in hopes that something I’m doing can help you and your family as well. Maybe you are not anywhere new but still haven’t found those special friends for you and your children. Or you are planning a move just like we are. Either way, these tips should give you somewhere to start.
1. Where is the local support for homeschoolers?
So I’m going to start you out here with a very rich resource that has served me well during my entire homeschooling tenure. Homeschool World has links to organizations in all 50 states and 13 countries outside of the U. S. Every support group that I have been a part of, whether in my current location or where we are headed, has been found on this site. The very first year we began homeschooling, I found the organizations that we have been a part of since her Kindergarten year. And once I knew this move would be taking place, I found the two support groups that I felt best fit us, and I’ve been an active member on their forums for the past couple of weeks. I am already in the know about field trips and park days that are happening right after we move! I wanted to be proactive and intentional, forming relationships before we even get there, so that the lag time between leaving friends and finding friends is as short as possible.
2. Where are the homeschoolers playing sports and getting their exercise?
Does your homeschooler love to swim? shoot hoops? learn a martial art? The website I mentioned above also has a number of listings for sports teams especially for homeschoolers. Of course, not all of the possibilities are on this site. Check out your local YMCA site…many of these facilities offer homeschool P. E. classes. Google your local swim academy/martial arts schools/gymnasiums/dance studios and the like. It has become more and more common for them to take advantage of using their space for homeschool groups during the daytime, or offering discounted rates for homeschool students. And even though it was not a special class or time for homeschoolers, the place where my daughter learned to swim is where we met two of our very best friends.
3. Where are the homeschoolers finding their extra-curricular activities?
Theater groups…art classes….computer design courses. Anything that your student has an interest in, I’m betting they’re not alone. I teach my daughter almost all of the basics and academics here at home and reserve that outside class time for things she considers “fun” and “not school.” And this type of atmosphere provides the perfect place for her to connect with other kids in a more relaxed atmosphere.
4. Where are the local homeschoolers taking classes?
Once again, that little site I directed you to in our first point comes in VERY handy. It is the resource that told me about almost every single place that my daughter has taken classes in the last five years. The ONLY classes that I did not hear about on this website I learned about through one of the forums…of one of the support groups I am in. Not only are these support groups great for meeting other homeschoolers, but they are a gold mine when it comes to learning about where everyone is doing what they are doing in the homeschool community where you live.
5. What is your child(ren) most passionate about?
And last but not least…what inspires your children the most? It may be one of the extra curricular activities we have already talked about. Or one of the sports we discussed. Whatever it is, I would point out that some of our closest friends as both children and adults are those that share our interests. Make this area of your child’s life the one that you don’t let fall by the wayside…no matter what. Not only is it invaluable to foster their talents and interests, but you never know what kindred spirit might await them in one of these groups.
Before I conclude, I would like to leave you with this.
The tips I gave you may sound very methodical and mechanical. Because they are. I am being strategic and intentional about creating new homeschool circles for my family. But that does not mean that my motivation is not filled with emotion and anticipation for what the future holds.
We as homeschoolers have a unique opportunity for our kids. We may have to be more purposeful, but the rewards are great!
What have you done to find those special friends for your children? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!