I’ve spent many, many hours (and posts) talking about how fantastic homeschooling can be. It really is, and I have no regrets. My kids are happy, smart, inquisitive, have tons of friends, tons of play time, tons of time to explore the world- and that is priceless! But today I am going to talk about the one drawback so far that I have found in my eleven years of homeschooling…
My teen’s inability to be spontaneous and make her own plans with her friends. Now, lets get one thing straight before someone waves the “socialization” flag: all of my children have buckets of friends and sleepovers, playdates, field trips and park days. They spend a huge chunk of time in groups of friends (large and small) and I know they are not lacking in that department.
My eldest daughter is fifteen now, and I have recently noticed an issue that doesn’t seem to affect just her, but most of her friends as well. They suck at planning things to do together. They like hanging out, and are quite happy to do so, but seem unable to call/text/or facebook each other with a simple “hey lets hang out!” Instead, they rely on their parents (usually the moms) to fill in their social calendars with parties and teen nights.
I think that part of the reason she waits for me to plan things is because this is how it has always been since we started homeschooling. I would tell her about various things that were going on that we could choose to do, or in some cases I would just say “we are doing this today, get ready.” When you are homeschooling, your kids don’t see their friends in class every day, and in most cases their friends don’t live nearby, so it is up to the parents to put together opportunities for kids to see each other.
In the past few months, Hannah has told me several times that she is bored or lonely, and I say the same thing each time: “Plan something with your friends!” I have no problem taking her wherever she wants to go, and her friends are always welcome here. She can do whatever she likes (Within reason, of course) but she doesn’t do anything! At first, I took pity on her and would plan things for her. I would pop on our homeschool group and say “hey! Let’s plan a teen night or something!” And someone would offer to host, or I would, and the kids would have a great time. But I recently figured out that this is just prolonging the issue- which is that they NEED to learn to plan their own shit.
So now I coach Hannah through it. I make suggestions, but leave the time/date/details to her.
It seems to be working. She is planning a movie night with her friends. They wanted to do it this weekend, but not everyone can make it so they moved the date. This morning I introduced the novel idea that she could still plan to do something with the ones that ARE free this weekend. She looked at me and I could see the light bulb go off in her head. Now she is texting and sorting things for this evening. Hopefully this is the start of her taking over and making her own plans from now on.
Final thought: I can only go by my own experiences and what I see in my own kid and those she hangs out with. Of course, it could also be that she is hanging out with other kids like her…..