I stated earlier that the primary means of socializing our children is through the family. As an extension of that, we make it a point to spend time with other families as well. While it is fairly easy to invite one or two families to our home, it is not always feasible to host a lot of them due to the size of most of the homeschooling families we know. That does not prevent the kids from seeing their friends, however.

Most homeschool groups provide activities for the younger children, which provide ample opportunities for the children to work and play together. What about the teenagers who have outgrown craft projects and kickball?

We do not encourage dating at the high school level. When our teens gather with their peers, it is in group settings which are well chaperoned and organized. We have found that we have to spell out our expectations as parents for teen activities and have drawn up a mission statement with expectations.

In our area, there are a number of parent-sponsored activities for the 13-18-year-olds. Some have almost taken on the feel of Tradition. One, which has been very successful, is an evening with the bishop. This dinner provides an opportunity for our teens to visit with Bishop Sheridan, who is most gracious to attend. There were close to 40 teens and parents at this latest gathering. What an opportunity for socialization of a different kind, and the kids did very well.

Another parent-sponsored activity is Masculine Virtue in the Movies. One of the dads (my husband) selects movies which demonstrate masculine virtue. He has made up a discussion sheet as a guide for the boys to note the various character traits of the main characters portrayed in the movies. He uses Boys to Men as a guide to the virtues. These bi-weekly evenings provide an opportunity for teen boys and their dads to get together with other boys and their dads in a relaxed setting, enjoying a movie, munching goodies and discussing things of value.

In November our teens gather to celebrate the feast of St. Martin. We always have a fire in the firepit and it is guaranteed to be cold out. That doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the kids who gather with lanterns around the pit, sharing stories about St. Martin, drinking hot cider and eating homemade bread.

Some parents host a bunco night for the teens once a month at one of the parish centers. The kids take snacks and drinks to share and have a lively evening.

This is just a sampling of the kind of group activities we provide for our teens. The point is, they are not isolated and they have ample opportunities to practice social skills outside of their families. Most of the homeschooled teens we know are also involved in 4-H, Youth Symphony, charitable works, church programs, dance, music and a myriad of other activities. The difference is that they are not peer-driven, and there are always responsible adults and parents involved.

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