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Homeschooling and Online Communities

There are online communities for everyone, whether it's a special interest....
There are online communities for everyone, whether it's a special interest....
Emily L. Goodman

Homeschooled kids often have it rough. There’s the idea that they’re “unsocialized,” and for those who aren’t involved in other activities, that can be very true! They might not have the chance to interact with other students throughout their typical weeks—and that is even more true of virtual schooled students, who have to be “in class” throughout the day, but who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to actually interact with anyone. Homeschooled parents, on the other hand, often have it even worse. They don’t get to go to work and meet people. What free time they do have is often spent shuffling children off to activities where they will have some social interaction. Many homeschooling moms may look up at the end of the week and suddenly realize that other than immediate family members, they haven’t spoken to an adult in weeks!

Enter the online community. There are groups on Facebook for nearly everything, and message boards on other forums for even more variety. It may take a concentrated search at first, but eventually, you’ll be able to find like-minded parents who have the same experiences that you do—as well as the same difficulty getting out of the house to do anything.

It can be a real relief just to have other parents to talk to—someone besides your spouse with whom you can share the events of each day. Sometimes, all you need is someone to tell you that it’s normal that you’ve had to drag your daughter through every lesson she’s been asked to do all day, and equally normal that your son has been playing computer games instead of doing research every time you’ve turned your back on him. You can discuss the challenges that led you to teach your children at home to begin with, or share the reasons why you feel it’s important not to send your children back to public school. Homeschooling parents tend to have similar priorities concerning family time and education, and having the opportunity to discuss this with someone who gets it can be invaluable.

It can also be highly addictive. Grownup time is a precious commodity when you’re home alone with your kids all day every day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more and more time online and less and less time with your kids, especially if you don’t need to be actively involved in a particular lesson. As with all things, this particular type of “grownup time” should be used in moderation—but it can be a very valuable way to feel like an adult again instead of just a homeschooling parent.