“Fittin in” as a high school homeschooler
By Andrew Jones
For most high schoolers, the drive to socialize, make friends and be included is overwhelming. Homeschoolers, though, have a more difficult time socializing just because most kids their age are too busy competing for the national homework-juggling championship trophy. It can be hard for them to find an exclusive group of high schoolers to hang out with and share experiences. Being homeschooled in the past, though, I have a few suggestions.
Join a homeschool group
I wrote in a past article about how I had difficulties making friends in a homeschool group, mostly because of the age differences. However, this isn’t to say that a homeschool group isn’t a great place for high schoolers to socialize. In fact, friendships can start just as easily in one of these groups as in regular school. On top of that, homeschool groups usually host activities to keep the students from just sitting around, awkwardly throwing each other glances from across the room or hiding behind their smartphone screens.
Join a club
No, not the seedy kind you hear of when a suspicious, mustachioed man asks you if you’d like to join him at “the club”. There are a lot of clubs and activity groups in most areas that aren’t tied to a specific school. In fact, in my town, most clubs are composed of older people who aren’t in school (which is not saying much since my town is composed largely of senior citizens).
Anyway, the few hobby groups I’ve joined over the years have been great avenues for socializing. They’re also a great way to learn, discover and improve in your hobbies and fields of interest. They can provide gateways to a lot of out-of-club opportunities and adventures. Some groups I would recommend for high schoolers that are reasonably common are photography clubs, art clubs, computer clubs and writing/book clubs.
Throw your nets a little wider
You know who else isn’t constrained by traditional school? It’s not just homeschoolers.
Yes, it’s true that people in a higher age bracket are often busy with their lives when they have responsibilities like holding down a job, taking care of their kids and watching Jeopardy. It’s true that people a lower age bracket have important responsibilities such as making enough allowance for candy this week. However, if you’re mature enough to open yourself up to different age groups, you may find that engaging friends can be found in a wider variety of age groups than “teenager”.
I’ve been friends with a 14-year-old kid down the road, an elderly man I go to meetings with and learn about “Ham Radio” from, and middle-aged women who I cry just as much as when romantic comedies are on television. Sure, they live in worlds with different problems and complexities than you, but it’s good to learn about those worlds and not be closed off in your own.. Building a friend group that includes both older and younger people might just prepare you better for living in the adult world. And that’s never a bad thing.
Andrew Jones is a self-proclaimed “real nerd” who considers leaving his USB drive at home an emergency. He was homeschooled for most of his life and loved it (to the extent one can “love” school). He now fixes computers on the cheap and writes funny things for the Internet.