Thursday, March 19, 2009

A potential casualty of homeschooling

This morning Deacon cried the whole way home from play group.

He finally understood (although we have been talking about it for months) that his friends will all be off to different kindergartens in the fall. He wants them to come to play group. He wants it to be the same.

I worked hard to find friends for him for his preschool years. He has some great ones, and I hope he can keep them even though he will be homeschooled and they will be scattered amongst different elementary schools. I am going to make an effort to make sure he can still play with them. I don't want my kid to have only other homeschoolers for friends.

As I have been thinking about gearing up for K in the fall, I came up with another resolution: not to let my younger kids become casualties of homeschool. I don't want them to never get to play with kids their own ages because we are so busy with "school". I don't want them only to see other kids when we are on a "field trip" or in a co-op.

I want them to be able to play with other preschoolers spontaneously at the park in the morning. And I want them to be able to establish fast preschool friendships in a playdate/play group environment.

I want them to learn to share. I want them to learn to wrestle. I want them to learn to love others. Even non-homeschoolers :) I want them to get to know first borns. And second borns.

And me? I don't want my only friends to be people who have kids my oldest kids age. I want to make friends whose oldest are my youngest's age. I want to meet new moms. I don't want to just hang out with my "group".

I don't want to meet them all in a co-op or at homeschool Gym and Swim either.

How am I going to manage all this?
I don't know.
But I am sure going to try.


Billi Jo said...

Amen. These too are all my fears and my hopes; and my lack of strategy…

Mrs. Jo said...

From observations and my own experiences, here's what I would do:

3 out of 4 Sundays invite different families over after church for a simple meal. We invite singles, older folks, and anyone we haven't had a chance to get to know. This helps me get out of my "young moms" bubble.

Being that my best friends don't plan to homeschool, I don't have that "bubble" problem. But if I did have that temptation I'd probably seek out playdates with neighbors, kids at church, kids in library or art groups, etc. I liked what Shopping for Time had to say about friendships. Have friends that sharpen, friends that mentor (older, wiser), friends that need friends, and friends that need Christ. If you pray about it, God always seems to bring people from all of these categories into one's life.

Something to keep in mind is that a lot of folks are worried about the socialization issue with homeschooling and yet, if the child has siblings and goes to church I wouldn't worry about it. I think kids today are "over-socialized." It used to be that we played in the backyard and let our imaginations roam wild and had fun with neighbor kids, cousins, or siblings. Now kids are taxiied to every activity under the sun and don't have time just to play at home. Having siblings provides lots of opportunity for conflict management, learning to share, and imaginative play. I sometimes wonder if I'm gypping Justus because I don't take him swimming now that I have 3 and Ali got to go all the time at his age. Then I think, "Does he really care? He has fun in the tub, which is like a swimming pool to him and in a couple of years he'll join his siblings on pool days and never know that he didn't swim much as a baby." Taking your boys to playdates with boys their own ages is all well and good sometimes, but when they are really young, they aren't gonna care as much and (from my observations of my kids) playdates are more fight-sessions anyway. Someday when they are a bit older and develop closer friendships you may allow them to do more, but I wouldn't worry too much about it in the first 5 years.

I can totally see if you want to have friends with girls over so your boys learn to interact with girls sometimes.

I, too, wrestle with knowing how to "do school" without robbing the younger kids of time, attention, and fun activities. Doing things all together, working during the boys' naptime and letting the boys play with activity tubs while Ali works are some of my ideas so far.
Just some thoughts. Sorry they got so lengthy!