‘The Socialization Question’ is often the first that parents hear when they announce their decision to homeschool. The vast majority of homeschoolers are indeed ‘well-socialized’ – they’re active in their communities and can comfortably interact with a wide variety of people in a range of ages. The real question on my heart as a mom is not whether or not they are socialized. It’s this: without the totally artificial but generally accepted construct of public school, will my kids find a community? Will they find their tribe?
Homeschool families, especially those who don’t regularly attend church and benefit from that large built-in community, often have to go to some lengths to arrange ‘playdates’ and ‘meetups’ with other kids and teens. It’s easy when they’re little – meet 20 other families at the park, and some buddies are bound to emerge for an afternoon of immersive play. As the tween years roll around, however, things get a little more complicated. Kids are looking for deeper relationships, and need to feel a sense of belonging as they look to really define themselves and their place in the world. It’s tough to do that when the best friend you made at Park Day doesn’t show up again for the next three months. In homeschool life, that happens.
Here at IfSpace, kids and teens have a place to meet, hang out, and share ideas without expectation. We don’t want our students to feel the same pressure that is inherent to the Monthly Mall Meetup: Did I wear the right thing? Am I saying the right stuff? Am I going to do all the right things to make these people want to be my friend? Friendships and communities are made not of these Big Moments, but of a thousand little ones: inside jokes, shared experiences, common interests, and mutual respect take time to develop. That’s what we want here – to form a group of people you can count on, and provide an opportunity for friendships to take root and grow.