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My kids aren't socialising enough

(35 Posts)
uglyflowers Mon 18-Sep-17 16:11:46

Hi there, I've been home edding my kids, now aged 12 and 8, for a long time. The educational side is great but the social side is terrible. Where we are locally, all the mums are anti vax unschoolers whereas I am an uptight scheduled type. My kids don't really mix as despite my best efforts, I'm not clucking with the other mums and this seems to be how the friendships occur. Also my kids hate sport and won't do drama, art etc. They really only like reading and computer games which aren't sociable. They've never had a sleepover, hardly go to birthday parties etc. I'm starting to think about sending them to school (even though they don't want to go) just to give them a chance to make friends. Also, btw my son has mild autism so is a bit 'uncool' which I think makes it harder for him to mix. I've put their names down for scouts etc but there is a waiting list.

ommmward Mon 18-Sep-17 16:30:24

There's some facebook groups where parents of home educators can get their children linked up on minecraft servers. Maybe this one? www.facebook.com/groups/MinecraftHomeEd/ (though one of my friends was telling me about a group they are in that does that, and it wasn't this one!) and then when the children feel like it, they can do the whole "talk to each other using a webcam while you play" thing - I know of autistic pre-teens who have developed friendships that way very successfully. It'd need careful supervision, obviously.

In our area, you'd get the impression from the home ed facebook group that everyone is an unschooling hippy, but it is possible with perseverance to find the other families who use a little bit (or a lot) of structure. Can even post on the facebook group saying you are looking to connect with others who are taking a more structured approach? It did take us a while to find those people (they might mostly be in a Christian home ed sub-community? Or a Muslim one? Or a special needs subcommunity? I bet they exist, for you to find, though).

Hope that helps!

Also, definitely don't be shy of setting up social opportunities with people who go to school! through clubs or sunday school or scouts or whatever.

uglyflowers Mon 18-Sep-17 17:42:32

Thanks Ommward x

ommmward Mon 18-Sep-17 18:00:56

What part of the country are you in? Is there a big home ed community?

crazycrofter Tue 19-Sep-17 15:52:25

I can sympathise with your predicament! We home edded ds for over two years and we were actually part of a Christian 'subset' so we had a group to meet with. He had the odd sleepover/party and a couple of good friends in the group but he still felt lonely! He's just gone back to school for year 7 and is much happier. I'm not sure that helps you at all. I think maybe a lot of home edders have big families or close friends who also home ed so they cope with the social challenges that way. It certainly takes a huge amount of effort to be solely responsible for your kids' social lives and I'm glad to be free of the worry. I know a couple of home educated kids, older than ours, who didnt have the groups to join and have been very isolated. I don't think they've had any real life friends and they really lack confidence and social skills.

I know home ed can be a really positive thing and I'm always supportive of people who do it but it's so dependant on the family dynamics/circumstances etc. Groups are not always as welcoming as you'd like them to be and it's harder for shy or reserved kids to make friends with children they only see occasionally.

Mary21 Wed 20-Sep-17 16:43:00

Do you have a code club or similar near you? www.codeclub.org.uk
Even though they don't like sport what about something individual like junior parkrun
This might not work but what about something with either much older or much younger children. See if you can all help out at a local mums and toddler group
Penpal?

uglyflowers Wed 20-Sep-17 21:09:36

Thanks. I don't want to say where I live but there are plenty of home edders. We just havent made enough friends somehow.

crazycrofter Wed 20-Sep-17 22:04:43

When ds was feeling lonely we let him start playing a PS4 game called Overwatch online. It's a kid friendly game and most of the other plays were around 11-15 ish. Chatting to them and starting to build up some online 'friendships' did help.

2014newme Wed 20-Sep-17 22:07:46

One of the biggest benefits of school is the social side. My kids love this, they have lovely friends and I've made great friends too. My kids would be lonely and bored at home.

Saracen Thu 21-Sep-17 01:00:17

"Thanks. I don't want to say where I live but there are plenty of home edders. We just havent made enough friends somehow."

Keep at it. You'll find them! Chances are good that there are families in your area with whom you have more in common. Perhaps they too have tried the local groups, not liked them, and given up. What about posting a lonely-hearts type ad on the local group to see whether anyone with similar interests wants to meet up? Or hosting a computer games club where everyone brings a laptop?

Another option is to try groups farther afield. There might be something more to your liking which is worth travelling for.

ommmward Thu 21-Sep-17 07:16:40

Oh yes! We met the best friend of one of my children through his mum putting out a lonely heart advert on the local Facebook group, and me thinking "wow, that sounds exactly like my child!!" 😍

uglyflowers Thu 21-Sep-17 08:32:25

Good idea ☺

itsstillgood Fri 22-Sep-17 16:52:36

I agree with so much of what has been said already. Particularly groups aren't always how they appear on Facebook and try the 'blind date' approach. I do have to ask though who says your children aren't socialising enough? Unless it's them, I would try not to worry too much, children are all different some want to be out all of the time, others are happy with one or two friends.

GiveMePrivacy Mon 02-Oct-17 23:39:11

We home educated until secondary school. We're in an area with loads of HE groups, and we did have a good set of friends who we have kept in touch with. Despite that, the kids say now that school was the right move. They like the fact that they have many more people to make friends with, and seeing those friends every day. One is quite quirky so doesn't have loads of friends, but had more chance of clicking with someone when meeting a greater number regularly. The chat, the cameraderie - it all builds up. They say they feel they are fitting a lot more into each day. They have discovered they love some subjects that they weren't interested in before, because a good teacher has brought it alive for them. I don't think we were doing home education "wrong"; I've always been aware of all the theories, had friends who were radical unschoolers, though we took a mixed approach with some structure. But I really wasn't seeing any difference in happiness between the home educated children and the school children on average , though I do understand that if a teenager has problems at school or anxiety etc then home education can be a lifesaver.

I think home education can be great - we really enjoyed it through the primary years - but look at whether it's still working for you now. Don't just carry on because it's "what you do". It becomes different as they get older anyway, and personally I think it was a lot more fun when they were younger. In their teens, I've seen my children benefit from being pushed to try new things that they just would not have done at home. Yes, we did do some great stuff at home, but it was SO MUCH effort from me to keep it going, keep the enthusiasm going, facilitate their projects, be mum, motivator, organiser, facilitator, manager, everything. I just got tired of having to nag. I think if you really want to home educate and are enjoying it, it will work for you. But if you aren't feeling it any more, maybe it's time for a change. What you want matters too.

We know some home educated children who really didn't get out much and their social isolation tended to get worse through the teenage years, almost like they were in a bunker. A lot of computer games getting played and parents not necessarily knowing what they were really up to - same as for kids in school, but maybe more hours to do it in if you're home educated. Same sort of mental health problems that you hear about in school kids, even in kids with lovely fluffy parents and no school pressure.

Maybe think about why you home educated in the first place, and if you've achieved what you wanted to achieve by doing that, or if it is time to push out of that comfort zone?

I'm a newbie to mumsnet and don't want to offend anyone; hope I haven't.

rattlesnake Mon 02-Oct-17 23:48:53

We are home-edding at present (13 y/o DS). I know what you mean...At first, we joined the meets, groups, nature things etc...but the people just weren't DS's cup of tea. I didn't really gel with the Mum's either...thought maybe it was me? They weren't into academic side of home-ed at all...whereas we are semi-organised and working towards a few GCSE's. He is in to his music, sociable but not too fussed, he said he found the HE kids either weird or really spoilt and bratty..so I left him to his own devices. He has his few mates that he sees..only about 3 of them, but he seems ok. Would like to meet up with other home-edders, but what do you put on your bio? No hippies, no bare-foot eco-warriors and we don't want to make any more freaking leaf pictures!! sad

Saracen Tue 03-Oct-17 07:23:22

Great post, Privacy! I agree that it is important to re-assess what you are doing from time to time to see whether it is still right for your family.

One of my kids tried school and though she soon decided she preferred home education, it was still a useful experience for her in terms of assessing her options. I don't think that trying school would necessarily have worked so well for her when she was younger, but by the age of ten she was wanting to explore what was available to her and take ownership of the decision of whether to go to school. I don't think that process is necessary for all kids, but it was helpful for her.

Welcome to mumsnet!

duvet Wed 04-Oct-17 12:25:23

Yes great replies, its given me food for thought. I dont mean to hijack but just looking to talk to someone as I started HEd DD2 in september ( she was due to start secondary and I'm struggling.
It was a joint decision but DD2 has been feeling a little left behind as she sees her old friends quite a lot. She is very social and goes to 4 different clubs during the week and on the whole she does feel quite happy with HEd but has mentioned going to high school.
I feel anxious though that we have made the right decision to HEd. In primary she struggled with understanding the work sometimes and works much better on a one to one basis hence the decision to HEd, although I am finding that very draining too. I am awaiting a diagnosis for APD.
We have been to some a few groups, although most are younger children and we have enjoyed many aspects. I have read advice on her to do lots of fun stuff to deschool which is what we've been doing although we have been doing some formal stuff cause it passes the time. There are only so many fun things you can do in a week! I feel I've left it a bit late to HEd and the thought of keeping going even til Christmas at the moment feels overwhelming. We said we would give it a go til then. Hope it's okay to share just feeling quite low today and feeling rubbish about decision making, I dont want to mess up my daughter's life.

TatterdemalionAspie Wed 04-Oct-17 13:14:22

Great reply from Privacy.

We were fully home ed from age 8 - 11, and since then my DD has been at a fully online secondary school. It really suits us because DD has her school friends (with whom she's very close, albeit the relationships are mainly conducted online) and still has the free time to attend a few home ed social groups and see the friends she made on the home ed scene. Of those home ed friends, there's a real spectrum from fully autonomous through to quite structured. We were lucky in that this never seemed to affect the friendships between the kids/parents. We were lucky enough to be included in an invitation to a gaming group, and that's now been going for 6 years (from cute kids playing minecraft to lanky teens playing WoW grin ). There's also a lovely social group where the kids tend to run in a feral gang do their own thing, and socialisation between parents isn't necessarily required.

A few thoughts/ideas...

Are there facebook groups for home ed in your area/county? If so, you've got a better chance of connecting with new people on there, I'd have thought, than in the groups you've been to lots of times before. If not - set one up!

How do you feel about being proactive and organising/hosting social/activity groups? A gaming club and a book club spring immediately to mind, given what you've said about their interests. Do they have any other interests at all? Anything they're interested in, get them into a club/short course if there's one around - they only need to make a good connection with one or two other kids, and voila - they've got friends.

For the older one, have they expressed any inclination to start more formal schooling? Doesn't have to be mainstream school (though it might be!), but online schooling, home ed cooperatives with group classes, small tutor groups. If you can find some other families to split the cost of a tutor with, then they'll form relationships with their fellow students. Online school?

I ran a weekly science club for a few months, helped out by a friend of mine who runs science after-school clubs. There was a group of half a dozen or so, and the other parents paid for the materiels and my friend's expenses. Doesn't have to go on indefinitely, but if you suggested a course of 10 sessions - it's quite doable to plan ten 'kitchen science' experiments, or biology sessions, or whatever - and split the cost of materials, I bet people would bite your hand off. Again, FB groups are the place to organise that stuff. In my experience, home edders will travel for stuff like that, too, so you might make connections with people a bit further afield in your county who you may not have met at local groups.

TatterdemalionAspie Wed 04-Oct-17 13:25:41

Also, consider stuff that isn't just for home edders - so scouts (which I see you're on the list for), but also St John Ambulance cadets, maybe music classes or something? All worth a try for a month to see if they make new friends - if they don't they don't have to carry on. Force Encourage them to give things a try, and they might find that they enjoy it. If they don't, nothing lost.

Swimming classes? I know you said they aren't sporty, but swimming is a necessary life skill, and I bet there are home ed classes for that.

Forest school? Get a good instructor who's happy to teach them the more exciting stuff (fire and knives!).

Hope there's something in that stream of consciousness that's useful! grin It can get exhausting to have to be so proactive as a home edder. I must admit I was quite relieved to pass the responsibility over for the academic side of things when DD started Interhigh!

TatterdemalionAspie Wed 04-Oct-17 13:27:38

duvet I hope there might be something useful for you in there too? Y7 is a tricky point to start HE. flowers

duvet Wed 04-Oct-17 15:44:09

Thanks Tatter

NoCryLilSoftSoft Wed 04-Oct-17 15:48:32

Not sure what is in your area but would you DC be interested in scouts/woodcraft people/brownies etc? Or what about St. John's ambulance, or cadets or similar. Agree with joining any HE FB groups for your area. There is something on at least once a week in my local one. Swimming, gymnastics, drama, singing, music lessons, trips to museums, exhibitions, fire station etc.

NoCryLilSoftSoft Wed 04-Oct-17 15:49:22

Sorry tatter I seem to have basically copied all your suggestions! grin

HatieCockpins Wed 04-Oct-17 15:53:47

If there are no local home ed groups that suit your children's interests why not set one up? There are probably others in your area who are also not into drama.
Get in the local home ed face book group and ask who would be interested in a group for swimming, art and craft, computer programming, board games, Lego, or whatever you want to do.
Also bear in mind that you don't need to socialise with other home educators just because you home educate. Would they enjoy brownies/scouts or other community groups?

NoCryLilSoftSoft Wed 04-Oct-17 15:58:32

Oh something we have in my town is "young archaeologists". I think ages 7 up to 16. One Saturday a month they meet up and visit local historical sites and do all sorts of fun activities learning all the while. It's through our local museum. Might be worth contacting local places in your area and finding out if they have any programmes for kids.

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