If we're being honest, the beginning of a school year brings anticipation and anxiety. Will we meet their academic, emotional, spiritual, and personal needs? What struggles will we encounter? Where will they experience the most growth this year? What are we looking forward to/dreading?
For various reasons, one of the most challenging aspects of homeschooling can be making and keeping friends for you and your children. This skill comes naturally to some, while it is pretty challenging for others, even in the same family. Sometimes there is a lack of consistent exposure with the same children. Some children are shy and refrain from connecting with other kids. Children do not often pick up on social cues, which can cause a disconnect. Of course, there is the age difference- there are times when your child is the oldest or the youngest in a group of kids. The exact reasons can exist for you too!
Regardless of those factors, we can take steps to help our children get to know their peers and potentially make long-term friends. I encourage you to print this form for your kids and yourself. Model for your child what it looks like to go up to someone else, introduce yourself and ask a few questions from this list. This is particularly powerful if you struggle with anxiety. Depending on your child's age, they know this about you, showing them how to overcome fear.
You can practice at home if your child is uncomfortable talking to other children. You can also answer the questions in a group setting. The purpose is to ease the tension of being around new people, not to exacerbate the issue by forcing your child to participate.
If it is okay with the other parents, the children can also write their phone number or email address in the box to connect later. One way to indicate your preference is to print on white paper if you are comfortable with an exchange and colored paper if you are not. That would eliminate the awkwardness of a child saying no to adding a phone number or email address.
Here's to new beginnings. How can you enhance this year for you and those you encounter?