Sometimes Homeschooling is Hard

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Sometimes homeschooling is hard because your toddler is having a bad day.  But sometimes homeschooling is hard because your children are hurting.

My fifth grader told me the other day that no one calls her to play because she is homeschooled.  It broke my heart.  I’ve been pondering her words and feelings for a few days because I don’t want her to begin to hate homeschooling because she feels like it’s costing her friends.  I wanted to jot down a few thoughts – to help myself, to ask for your opinions.

It seems to me that children are completely overbooked these days.  Those of us who choose to give generous amounts of time for unstructured play often end up with children who feel lonely and like no one can play.  Does one begin scheduling more activities for their own children to combat this?  Does one make playdates for an older child?  Does one say to oneself that it isn’t a big deal, children can have fun with siblings or in their own imaginative world?

I think I might have mistakenly supposed that homeschooling was no longer a “weird” thing to do.  Are homeschoolers still shunned as playmates?  Do the children in my neighborhood who attend private schools have this same problem?

It really isn’t that my daughter has no “social” time.  She has friends in the neighborhood with whom she plays, but they are often younger than she.  She takes a gymnastics class every week.  She attends Sunday School every week and participates in an activity for girls her age twice a month.  I think she is just missing out on a “Best Friend.”  I think she feels badly because the girls attending public school make plans to play on the bus ride home every day and then aren’t available when she reaches out to them.

I have been reminding myself that even when we public schooled, it was hard to find playmates sometimes.  I recall many days of having a sad little girl complaining about a lack of girlfriends.

Are you struggling with this in your house?  I would love to hear your experiences and feedback.  

Thank you for reading!

Mrs. Mallard

7 thoughts on “Sometimes Homeschooling is Hard

  1. sarah cook

    Wow, I agree with you completely about the over-scheduling issue. I already have a five year old who sometimes feels deprived because she isn’t doing every activity that all of her friends do. Most of the girls she knows did pre-school last year, and are always signed up for dance classes, soccer, t-ball etc, and today she came home from kindergarten with fliers for a cheerleading camp and girl scouts. None of those things are bad, but it’s so easy to over-do it. I just think kids ought to spend most of their time at home, with family, playing and pretending and helping and creating and being outside. It’s hard to go against the flow, and I’m sure it’s only going to get harder as she gets older. You’re absolutely right to remember that there are social challenges to deal with in any schooling situation; I’m amazed at the daily little dramas that happen, just in kindergarten.
    With all the schooling options now…charter schools, private schools, public schools, homeschools…I really thought the “weird” stigma against homeschooling was fading. Maybe I just want to think that because I find myself seriously considering that option, too (which is partly why I enjoy your blog so much).

    Reply
  2. Sheila

    Hey Rachel,
    My next 2 posts are kinda about this issue. More about the scheduling thing than about the friend issue. About the friend-thing, I don’t really have any answers except to say that it is a tough thing. We live out in the country and there are no other kids to play with. For the most part, my boys don’t seem to mind, but it does bother my husband that they don’t have a pack of friends. I think this is more bc my husband grew up with a pack of neighborhood friends and is still friends with a bunch of people he went to grammar school with. I never had a lot of friends, and I don’t know anyone I went to grammar school with now. So the fact that my boys don’t have a bunch of friends doesn’t bother me.
    I know that my friends who live in neighborhoods and kids attend public school also struggle with this issue, for whatever that is worth.
    We are actually meeting up with some local waldorf homeschoolers at a park today. Most of the kids are younger than Vincent, but hopefully some connections will be made. We’ll see.
    Holding you in the light,
    Sheila

    Reply
  3. Mama

    Greetings. I recently started stopping by on the high recommendation of Sheila (; I’m just starting in on the Waldorf inspired scene and enjoy your blog (:
    The friends thing is hard and I want to encourage you.
    I want my girls to have friends and an opportunity to learn how to make friends/deepen relationships. With this said, it can be hard. Sigh.
    We do not overschedule and I absolutely agree with you that kids are too scheduled and too busy. (It’s just nice to have someone agree with you when you might feel like the only fish swimming the other way.)
    I just finished workign out what I hope is going to be a very balanced rhythm for our family. Time for selves, for family, for friends. As far as the friends scene, we have one day a week when we can get together with only one family (versus a group)in the afternon. We have a weekly parkday with our homeschool group. AWANA (a once a week nighttime Bible club). Community Bible Study (a once a week Bible study where moms study w/ moms and there are homeschool Bible study classes by grade for kids). And, assuming we find a new church, we’ll have Sunday School etc. on sundays.
    Both of my daughters are very socialable and my eldest really loves her “one best friend” –which she was absolutely desperate to have. It was really hard before she found her one bosom mate.
    We have at least one day between “being out in the world with friends” days where our family’s time is protected, including their time to play outside, imagine, control their own choices, etc. etc. etc. We’re pretty sensitive to “too much” and find that having a rhythm to our days and weeks, protecting our time away from social events and really making sure that we’re feeling in balance let’s also make time to develop relationships and have fun with peers on a predictable basis (the predictability might alay some of the “I’m lonely” because your kidlets will know that on X day, they’ll be headed to the park.)
    Homeschooling is worth it xo

    Reply
  4. Lindsi

    Thanks for your thoughts Rachel. I love hearing what you have to say. It broke my heart to hear that Em felt like she didn’t have friends. Pyper feels like that too. She doesn’t go to school in our neighborhood so she has no connections there. Also, she is in an elementary group at her private school that has only 6 kids in it and 2 of them are non-verbal. So she has nobody from there.
    Because she is so different, kids won’t play with her. In fact, she came home sobbing the other day and it was everything I could do to control my mamma bear instincts. She went to play at her “friends” house down the street. She has 2 “kind of” friends in the neighborhood that she plays with about once a month. She could hear all the kids playing and wanted to join in, so she ran down there as fast as she could, so excited to play. When she knocked on the gate, she heard the nine year old girl say to the 5 other children, “Everybody be quiet. Pretend you’re not here.” Then she opened the gate and told Pyper she couldn’t play because she was grounded, then closed the gate and all the kids started laughing.
    She was crying so hard when she got home that it took her 10 minutes to be able to tell me what happened. After consoling her I went in the bathroom and just sobbed. Kids can be so cruel. Since then, I’ve hardly let her play, even if she begs. I prefer she be mad I won’t let her play then be sad that kids don’t want to play with her. There is a little girl right next door that she plays with for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, but that’s it. She also has no friends in her dad’s neighborhood because she doesn’t go to school there, either. So she feels pretty isolated and often cries because nobody likes her.
    My rambling has no point. Just maybe to say that I understand how hard it is when your kids say they have no friends. I love you guys. Hang in there.

    Reply
  5. JustToSay

    Oh, Lindsi, your post makes me so sad! You are very, very nice to visit me here in my ramblings. I’m sorry Pyper has to deal with this hard thing, too. Much love, Rachel

    Reply

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