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MtnMama
06-20-2011, 03:25 PM
We live in a very rural area. The closest "big" city is approximately 2 hours from us. Needless to say, there are no active homeschooling groups and many people think we are odd for considering the option.

Like most, I have some reservations. My eldest son just finished a preschool class that he really enjoyed and he's asked me multiple times about "starting Kindergarten". He knows that we will be learning at home, but I know that he will miss having regular interaction with friends.

It should be easy to supplement that, but we have almost no social circle here outside of family. We visit the park often and we go to a summer library program where he spends time with other kids, but really thrived in having regular "play time" with kids who he was familiar with.

I'm so disappointed that we don't have more options for a homeschooling group. Has anyone else homeschooled in this environment? Any suggestions? I did try (hard) to find other homeschoolers and we did manage to find a group about an hour away but they were very centered on religion and that isn't the route we're taking. I was concerned that the group's meetings would also focus on religious content.

Stella M
06-20-2011, 07:06 PM
Probably a dumb question, but are there any non-homeschool/non church groups within an hours drive ? Is there a way of spending time with other kids at a general community group or class of some sort ?

Can you continue to arrange playdates with the children your son likes at preschool ? At least to 'tide him over' this coming year.

Could you set up a club of some sort - Lego. books, science, nature walks - or a 'in the country park day' and advertise it through the other group ? It's possible you might get a few of the friendlier and more mildly religious families to join you once a month...

Are there people in your small town to spend time with who aren't your son's age ? Older people maybe, people with children a year younger ? Company doesn't just have to be same age, kwim ? I know you said you don't have a circle outside family - are there family members who would spend time doing things with your son ?

Sometimes you have to brazen out the 'odd' thing though - act as if it's completely normal to homeschool and keep in touch with schooled friends or hang out with Grandpa on a 'school' day. The more you ignore the 'odd' the more others might learn to also!

Idk - I see your concern. I also know that many people homeschool in isolated circumstances here - mostly in the outback of Australia - and their younger kids do fine. It's different but it's still good. And your son is little. You have loads of time to see what works and what doesn't.

farrarwilliams
06-20-2011, 07:17 PM
Ditto Melissa's suggestions.

I always feel so bad for people on this board who have so little local secular community because we have plenty. But even with that, it's still hard because homeschooling, especially little ones, means constantly putting yourself out there if you want to create a social life for your kids.

Stella M
06-20-2011, 07:24 PM
On my worst days of 'what am I doing to my poor, isolated children ?' I'd just be grateful we weren't out on the prairie, with only the wolves, a slate, a thimble and a homemade doll to keep us company :)

Maybe read your son "Little House in the Big Woods' ?

What sort of rural are you ? Could you shift your focus from 'friends' to something like nature explorations - get your son caught up in buying a journal and pencils and a magnifying glass etc. In other words, draw his attention to what he does have, rather than letting him dwell on what he doesn't ?

I'm sorry if these suggestions are no good for you. It's a hard situation, that's for sure.

Pefa
06-20-2011, 07:58 PM
We did fine until this year (the kiddos still at home are 10yo and 12yo) - all they needed was the space around us. They are happy, imaginative, well socialized children.

I think they've each been to one birthday party. We couldn't play any of the cranium games because they assumed things like birthday parties and sleepovers and school are a routine part of everybody's life and we got tired of skipping those questions.

I third Melissa's suggestions. When your kids are little they aren't going to make the distinction between schooled and homeschooled kid so doing what you can to stay in touch with the kids he liked will be enough.

But life changes so I think the boys and I will be moving closer to other people before Sept.

Stella M
06-20-2011, 08:13 PM
It's definitely less of an issue when there are sibs. Mnt Mama, does your son have siblings or cousins ? f he does, I honestly wouldn't worry too much about the friend thing at this age...

ETA just read your intro and I see you have two boys. Having a brother around, unless the gap is large, would make me, personally, feel less urgent about sorting the friend/support thing.I might still try to find or organise something that works but I wouldn't spend a lot of time fretting. My girls were completely self-sufficient as a 'play unit' for quite a few years - probably up to the ages of 10 and 8.

Marmalade
06-21-2011, 01:39 PM
I guess our family kind of fits into the description above-we do have a very large group of cousins that are also "friends" though. I know you mentioned family but you didn't go into detail.

The park and the library are both great places for him to interact with other children. My 5 year old can meet a kid once and become "friends" even if he never sees them again.

I would say don't let this discourage you from homeschooling...a lot of naysayers are quick to jump to "socialization" as a reason to not homeschool...it just makes me laugh...if that's really the only thing they are missing in schools them I'm cool.

hockeymom
06-21-2011, 02:24 PM
We are pretty isolated as well and the only homeschoolers that I know of in our community. We live five hours away from the closest decent sized city so yeah, I get what you mean about feeling alone. It is sad, to not have resources around that your kids would enjoy and that would be fulfilling. My son was 5 when we moved here, so he's very aware of what he's missing out on.

Do you have any sports or mommy groups for the preschool set in your area? You mentioned the library group--does your librarian know of any other homeschoolers? She might also be a good resource for finding out about other activities you may not be aware of. You might have to get comfortable talking to other moms at the playground, in the grocery store, or out and about who have kids about your son's age, in the hopes of making some connection.

While I agree that kids do fine without a lot of social time, some kids are more hardwired than others to enjoy the company of friends. Mine is one of those, so it's been paramount for us to maintain the friendships he made in his short time in public school.

There are some great suggestions here by Melissa and others; I hope you find some that work for you.

Theresa Holland Ryder
06-21-2011, 02:24 PM
I'd dig hard at what you can find for extra-curricular activities in your area. Dance classes, Karate, 4-H, t-ball or soccer or other sports, Scouting (if you can get past some of their ideology), volunteer work, craft classes, if there are any hobby stores. Even our hardware store here occasionally has a Saturday morning class for kids. And don't be afraid of starting your own thing if you need to. Even if it's only a couple of other families, it can still be fun and supportive.

I have other friends homeschooling in very rural areas and they all love the 4-H, so out of all my suggestions, that's probably #1. They do all kinds of things, not just raise critters. :)

camaro
06-21-2011, 05:15 PM
Hi, MtnMama. We're rural folks and have few connections within the homeschool community locally (which is not at all that popular around here anyway). We have three boys who play well together but we've gotten them involved in activities nearby to get some "socialization." We're fortunate to have a recreational gymnastics club in a nearby town as well as baseball and swimming lessons in season. Our oldest might get involved in a 4-H beef club this fall, too. So like the others have said, take a look outside the homeschool community.

OrganicFrmGrl
06-22-2011, 11:25 AM
Hello Mtnmama,

I just want you to know I feel your pain. We moved from Virginia Beach to a Mtn top in WV. My ds is 8 and we started him in PS after a few weeks, we pulled him out. He really wasn't in school long enough to make any solid friendships. Socialization was my big worry too. There are next to no homeschooling groups near and none secular. I am fortunate that my son like sports so that is his socialization now. Before he got signed up for sports we did everything we could to be around people. There are several resorts around so we would go to the activities that they offered which included hikes, nature centers and even access to their pools. This allowed him to be around and talk to people other than my husband and myself. We too visit(ed) libraries and parks often. I also make sure I get the local paper which is about 5 pages long but, we read it thoroughly and go to most events listed! We have been here almost a year now and i am happy with my decision to HS and I feel that with all of our efforts he has been getting enough socialization and has met some really good kids.