I had wanted to answer you over the weekend when I had more time, but then our internet was down all weekend due to the snowstorm in MN. But I've had your post on my heart. Homeschooling a lonely boy who wants to go to group school is very much a part of our lives.
There are some good threads in the archives, such as this one on social butterflies:
I have a lot of thoughts on this, and have said a lot in the past so I may be repeating myself, but I'll just write randomly and maybe something will be helpful?
1. I actually think my son has *more* time to play with friends because he's homeschooled. No, he doesn't get to talk to kids when he's doing his lessons (except texting these days
), but I'm not sure that's the time to chat and play with friends?! And after school, I firmly believe my son has *more* time to play because he rarely has homework. In other words, I think my very social son has just as much total time to be with other kids as any other kid. It just "looks different."
2. I do make sure we follow a local public school schedule. My son chooses one local school each year. He gets the same days off as they do, and he is done with school at the same time they are -- whether we are done or not (barring outright disobedience).
3. However, if your dh is worried that your son needs school in order to *find* or *meet* other kids, then I will just share that public school doesn't guarantee that will happen. I've had a dd who was lonely in public school, and I think many kids are. My boys were very social but their closest friends were not in their grades, so they did not meet or spend time together in school. It could be that your ds would meet a great friend by attending public school, but it seems just as likely that he would not meet anyone compatible or "available," and might end up more miserable about it?
4. What I did for my dd was to lead a Girl Scout troop. It was extra work for me, 10 years of extra work actually, but those girls are still my dd's friends at age 23. The kids in that particular group were not by any means "hand picked" but I did have the advantage of being able to guide them over the years, and to hear more about what was going on in their lives than probably any of the other moms ever knew
Another mom I knew with a lonely homeschooled son started a "Friday game night" in junior high that was partially successful, and then a "Friday get-together" in senior hi that was very popular and important to those kids.
Another homeschool mom started a book club for boys when her youngest 3 homeschoolers were all boys. Each week they discuss chapters and then have phy ed. This group has grown as more boys are identified, and has lasted several years so far.
And one year (7th grade), I invited another homeschooler over to our house to do science experiments. It was a gal and not a boy, but it didn't seem to matter much. I had the science kit and they both had textbooks to read at home. Then at my house, they did the experiments together (without my help), and I gave any quizzes. They also did the cooking projects in 1850MOD together. Messy but some fun things to try. One week, they'd read and choose the recipe. I'd check off the ingredients I already had, and the other mom would provide the rest even if she needed to purchase them. The next week, they'd cook & we'd share the resulting dishes!
None of us moms is a social butterfly at all. But these things were an investment for our kids.
5. As far as finding friends in homeschool groups, I think it's important to look carefully at your goals and make sure you choose homeschool activities that are specific to those goals. For instance, if you want your son to have friends, you'll need a group that is not teaching kids how to keep quiet and sit in their seats for class; you won't want to choose field trips where children are to stay with their own parent. The wrong group can just make your son feel even more alone. On the other hand, if you want your son to have the experience of a big "class" and "teacher rules" and stories to tell like his public schooled friends, then you might want a bigger, more academic co-op.
Neither of my homeschooled kids found a lot of friends in homeschool groups. Yes, they had fun with other homeschoolers (and my son still does), and had opportunities to talk about from theater to math competition. But often homeschooled kids are not as "accessible" as unsupervised neighborhood kids who are always available to play, or homeschoolers have large families and just don't need extra playmates. If you meet a homeschooled family and they agree to set up a play date right away for today or tomorrow, then you may have an easy avenue to friendship. However, if the play date is set up for a specific future date, during certain hours, then there may not be a lot of opportunity to get together, so the friendship may not progress much beyond the awkward stage. That's my experience, anyways.
6. Not sure what your neighborhood is like but even if you don't approve of the local kids, I find that at my house, under my supervision, local kids can be okay and can even rise to the occasion with a little bit of guidance. Over the years, I often encouraged kids to play over here by having something interesting out in the driveway (orange cones for biking around, net for basketball, sidewalk chalk) and having some kool-aide inside. Well, we each have different callings -- I think this has been one of mine :o)
7. In the end, social kids want "somebody" -- but it doesn't need to be an exact-age-mate. He will be happiest if he has "somebody" -- even if it's you. My son is very social and likes an audience and likes to talk about what he's learning. Homeschooling at our house has looked different than some families with lots of kids, both because I'm more involved and because we add in plenty of "sounds" -- like music and videos -- whereas other families may be trying to maintain some quiet! My ds does want to be on his own sometimes, but he'll pop out when it starts to feel like "solitary confinement." I make sure I'm available to sit and work alongside him, even if I'm just getting schoolwork ready for the next day or writing bills.
I also jump on any opportunity to put "somebody" with my son who might get him to chatting -- dad, aunty willing to take him on a field trip, adult sibling willing to play a game or admire an essay, etc. I took a few photos so he could remember. I kept up on all the letter writing in MFW, too, and printed out the letters sent and any received, for my son to look back on. I want my son to look back at the good stuff and not at what's "missing." I also have always asked folks to look over his notebooks -- otherwise he will remark, "What difference does it make, since no one will ever see what I wrote." (Yes, I do instruct him on the value of good work even without reward, but rarely does that encourage my very social ds for an entire school year...)
My ds still wishes he could go to public school, but he's okay with our decision. And he's certainly not lacking for time with friends once 2:30 arrives!
I will pray, too.