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Are Travelling Homeschooling Kids Lonely?
Ever wondered how kids who don't go to school make friends? Are all kids that travel lonely?
The topic of friendships is something that pops up regularly in homeschooling and travelling families groups. Many people worry that their kids will become lonely if they are not at school surrounded by kids their own age every single day. Whether you're homeschooling whilst stationary or whilst travelling, there really is only one thing that is required, that's for you as a parent to put in the effort to facilitate friendships.
Whilst I am not saying childhood friendships are not important, once we leave school friendships often disintegrate. Why is this though? Well, for the most part it comes down to geographical inconvenience. When you're not naturally crossing paths with your friends each day it requires effort to make the time to actually go and see them, not to mention find a time that suits you both, working around jobs, family etc. It's that effort that people often just don't put in these days, especially with the introduction of social media.
So what does that mean for kids who are unable to get in a car and go catch up with friends? Well, it means the onus is on you as a parent to do that. In a good portion of areas there are homeschooling groups that are a great way for kids to make friends and this is something we do wherever we are. Just a simple search on facebook more often than not uncovers a local homeschool group, or at least a few homeschoolers in the area. For the most part in my experiences, groups have been very welcoming and the kids don't think of newcomers as "outsiders", instead they are just another kid to play with! There's also other options like scouts etc which can be a great way for travelling kids to make new friends. Look up Lone Scouts if this is something you're interested in.
I often see posts from travelling families saying their kids are wanting more social interaction yet they seldom put in the effort to actually help their children do this, instead hoping that a family with children the same age will just park their caravan next to them and their kids will be BFF's from that day on. Sure, that happens on occasion, but it's not a regular occurrence. If you make the decision to travel with your kids, I think it's only fair that you realise your kids will want some social interaction which is often on you to facilitate. Sure, they may not have kids to play with every day, but in reality not many of us adults see our friends every day, so instead we use other mediums to keep in contact like chatting, facetime, email, etc. This is something Jaiden does a lot, keeping in contact with friends via email.
When travelling, it can be difficult for kids to say goodbye to new friends. That is just one of the downsides of travelling. Kids are resilient little beings and as long as there are more opportunities to make new friends I don't feel that there is any real long lasting harm being done. In fact, the travelling and homeschooled kids I have met over the years are some of the happiest most well adjusted kids I have come across are always super inclusive of all kids. Jaiden often gets sad on school holidays as kids who attend school seem to stick more to their already formed groups and are less welcoming of newcomers, even when camping. Jaiden has friends all over the East coast, ranging from 5 years old to 18 years old. When we are nearby I make sure we put in the effort to go and see them and when we are not I encourage him to keep in contact via email, facetime or even just chatting when playing games online.
Pictured here is Jaiden playing with Deegan, an 8 year old ASD boy who has recently started his homeschool journey after struggling terribly at School. Jaiden and D were practically inseparable, playing for hours on end over several days without a single disagreement, which is a feat in itself for both of them. How did they meet? Well his mother and I arranged a meet and they really hit it off. We then went on to house sit for them and whilst they were home, their friendship continued to blossom and Deegan will no doubt be added to Jaidens ever growing list of friends from all around the country. Sure, he won't see Deegan every day, and yes, both Jaiden and D were sad when we left but they both know that they will see each other again. I am sure, that just as we do as adults, their friendship will pick right back up where it left off. The difference is the onus is on us parents to put in the effort to actually allow them to see each other.
When we started tossing up the idea of travelling again, one of the things Jaiden most wanted to do was to see new places and make lots of new friends. After 18 months back on the road, I can say he's well and truly ticked that box. Sure, it does take effort on my (and his) behalf to create and maintain these friendships, and yes he will not see all of his friends every single day, but who does? I cannot think of a day in my entire adult life that I saw all of my friends in the one day. Instead, we live our lives and make the effort to catch up whenever possible.
That's just what friends do.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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