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Why is it so hard for us to find someone to PLAY with?

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 

I know it sounds very silly but this has become a HUGE problem. I homeschool my dd who is 4.5 years old and I can't believe I'm writing this but I'm dealing with a "lonely only" situation and I feel awful about it. I've always intended to homeschool and socialization was such a non-issue for me. I literally laughed about how stupid people were for worrying about dd being socialized enough and yet here I am. 


Here's the story ... 


For the life of me, I can't understand why no one wants to have informal social events for the kids, also known as play dates. 


If I wanted to waste money making my dd feel like crap that she can't skate well I would bring her to private lessons. If I wanted someone else to teach my child academics I would send her to school. So, why is EVERY single homeschool activity based around some type of learning activity that there is clearly a prerequisite for? 


Please keep in mind that I'm really frustrated right now and that I know I sound like I'm grossly overgeneralizing but I don't believe I'm far off. So few people I have met find any value in just letting the kids play a little while. It's always organized sports or musical instruction or academic based co-ops. No one wants to just get together and let the kids play. 

Now, I do realize we are at an age where dd is too old for mommy and me stuff and too young for most homeschool activities which I'm hoping will get better as she gets older. 


I really don't know what to do. She is lonely and sad but we haven't been welcomed at any group and I swear while I probably sound like a lunatic right now, I try really hard to be nice and friendly and normal with everyone I meet. I've tried to set up things on my own, even at one point inviting people I didn't know very well into my home just to get something going and it still didn't work out. A lot of moms have told me that playtime is for their kids to do at home together and they can't justify spending time out if it isn't for an actual purpose like musical or academic instruction. 

I sort of understand that to a point but really? Should kids only social time be with their own siblings or during instruction? And if so, where does that leave my dd? 


post #2 of 61

Have you considered looking outside of the homeschool circle?


Most of DD's friends are in public or private school. It's true that playdates are an afternoon and/or weekend thing, due to school schedules, but that sure beats no playdates.


Places we've met our friends: library, YMCA, park, playground, local outings for kids (ex: kids day at the local apple orchard), the neighborhood in general.

post #3 of 61

Have you considered something like Mothers of Preschoolers? it meets in churches, usually, but is a nice place to meet other moms, their kids, and have chances to get together.

post #4 of 61

I have a similar problem with our DS(8) who is a homeschooled Only. He has one good friend and a few casual friends whom he met at homeschool classes. They have unstructured play time together. I think that is truly important and beneficial for them and we are lucky that the other family believes this too. But we struggle with the low number of friends, because that does make it hard to set up enough situations for the free play. His friends who he knew before they were all school age have all gone off to school and the huge flurry of activities and homework and structured stuff that entails (and when they are on vacation, the down-time is so rare that they of course have to use it to travel and see relatives etc.) so we never see them any more!


There's a slightly older boy we know from the homeschool community, and my son visits him once a week to just hang out. My son views it as sort of a play date but I do pay the boy (he's 13) as a sitter. The boy benefits since he's earning money, and my son benefits because it's like he has an older brother around. So that might be an idea when your DS gets a little older. 


I do get a little resentful that the families with multiples don't have this problem; they're so self-sufficient, their kids learn all the social stuff they need to learn, like getting along with each other, sharing, learning from each other, playing games....and have no need for outside kids. And I feel rather like an imposition at times.


Not much help, I know, but I did want to say I understand.

post #5 of 61

I have the same problem. My kiddo is 11.  What I did this year was start MY OWN homeschool group for tweens/teens.  To be honest the group isn't exactly taking off for the moon but we do meet monthly at a coffee shop type place. The parents get a table and the kids have a table.  The kids have an old fashioned 'game night' and the parent(s) talk.  Last month I had one friggin kid show up.  But my kiddo seems happy and looks forward to the 'game nights'.


I may do things a bit differently next year and I might even change them up come spring time.


Kiddo just joined a competitive swim team, it's difficult to make friends while you are turning laps but he 'knows' some kids over there too.


In the past we've gone to parks on  non-school days just to have kids to play with.  We've gone to the library after dinner when other kids would be there.  All kinds of crazy things to find kids.  


Around here it just seems my kiddo is happy being alone most days.  He prefers books, Legos, and that type of thing.  

post #6 of 61

Hmm, I just realized that the area you live in affects your experience of this. We live in a fairly low-income area so public-schooled kids aren't spending their whole days in violin lessons, horse riding lessons and so on. I can see how in other places unstructured play for kids is hard to come by.  Still, I think you just keep trying. Keep meeting people at homeschool activities and invite over the kids who seem to have playdate potential. Try the park and the Y and so on anyway - you might luck out. Not EVERYBODY is scheduled to the gills, and not ALL homeschoolers have 9 kids and have no interest in playing with anyone else. Heck, you might find some unschoolers who have plenty of time. Or other homeschoolers of onlies. I think just keep trying, try new places, just keep at it.

post #7 of 61
I think it depends a lot on your location. When we lived just minutes outside of Atlanta, there was no end of homeschooling playgroups/classes and park days. We were able to pick and choose.
post #8 of 61

Definately BTDT.  I'm homeschooling my 5yo dd, an only too.  We just moved here 7 months ago and knew nobody.  As of right now she has 

about 2-3 playdates a week with kids she and I met.  Plus classes she takes (gymnastics, etc.).  I agree your location may be the biggest problem.

In the town we moved from it was like pulling teeth to find kids for dd to play with.  As an introvert myself, it is not easy to find other kids 

for her to play with but what I did was everywhere I went with her I looked for other onlies.  One time we went to the beach and I spotted a boy who

looked like her age playing in the sand with his mom.  I parked ourselves sort of near and told dd to go over and introduce herself and see if he wanted

to play.  That turned into a great friendship for both her and I.  I also asked another mom of an only in her gymnastics class if she wanted to let 

them have a playdate at the park sometime since they got along so well and she said yes and we are meeting up for the second time this week.

I have asked other moms for playdates before and not all of them panned out but I didn't give up and we are doing ok now.  Just don't be disheartened,

keep trying.  I still find it incredulous that I, as the very introverted introvert, had to initiate all of these playdates with these obviously extraverted parents.

but oh well...it all turned out ok.  I agree don't just look for homeschoolers, I actually haven't had that much luck with the homeschoolers, lol.  

post #9 of 61

I think it might be the age... everyone is transitioning somewhere between playdates where mom's get together with mom's they want to be with and the little ones hopefully play to playdates where the kids get together without their moms necessarily being friends and people have to work that out a bit.  Its weird.  My son has friends.  I like his friends.  Their moms are OK, but not people I'm going to really hang out with.  Its weird sometimes inviting his friends over without extending the invitation to the mom, I don't know, but it just feels weird.  We need more practice.  Some other moms we know aren't ready for that.  We homeschool, but we've had better luck finding non-homeschooled friends.  Homeschoolers here seem to need an event or activity to get together more than the non-homeschoolers we know.  We were getting a bit frustrated with it too until we started inviting just the child over to hang out or walk to the playground with us or something.

post #10 of 61

I have a couple thoughts-- first, I'm wondering if there aren't other homeschoolers around that you haven't found?  I have lived in areas where there were groups that never talked to each other, and if you fell in with one, you might never know the other existed.  So, I'd look for more homeschoolers, and perhaps in a larger area.  I drive a solid half hour for social opportunities.  


Also, if your skating reference is to an open-skate thing, you might want to go once-- in our area, little kids are allowed to use chairs to help them skate, and it can be fun, even if you don't know how to skate when you start.  No one would make a 4 year old feel like crap for not knowing how to skate at the open-skate around here.  


FWIW, I think it's very very hard to find social opportunities for a homeschooled kid your dd's age.  Most homeschool groups cater to school aged kids, and more 1st grade and up than kindergarten.  It will likely get easier when she is older, so I'd focus on short term solutions now-- groups for preschoolers, something like that.


Good luck!

post #11 of 61

I would try finding a local MOMS club chapter. This is an international organization developed to support stay at home Moms! They usually have activities 3-4 days a week that are basically just informal playdates.. Mostly so the moms can chat.. But kids get lots of free play! We have a few homeschooling families in our group! 



Have you looked into a littl gym type class? A lot of times they host open gyms where kids just go in and have free play in the gym!

post #12 of 61

If you attend church, & maybe even if you don't, many churches have seasonal festivals, Vacation Bible School in summer, & Parent's Night Out once a month. The same goes for the YMCA. My YMCA has the sports, of course. I know you're trying to stay away from that. However, they also have fun activities for the kids, plus family game/movie nights and monthly parent's night out. My library has various activities for kids of all ages. Does your town have a community center or a parks department? The parks department often has games, outings, and other things for community children to participate in. When I was a child I did many things with the parks dept. I am an only child & so is my child. He's 4 1/2 like your kiddo, & he really only has one good friend right now. We invite them to stay the night about once every 6-8 weeks so they get to play most of the day and part of the next. Their parents love it because they get to have a night alone to go out or take care of projects around the house. Neighborhood kids would be the easiest place to find playmates in the evenings & on weekends. If your child went to public school these kids would likely be their friend anyway because they'd ride the bus & have classes together. Does your neighborhood ever have group yard sales or family block parties??? This would be a good way to see who all has kids close to you & how old they are. Stick a flyer in their mailboxes to tell them you're hosting a potluck BBQ for families with younger kids. You may only get 2-3 families to show up for every 100 flyers, but that's 2-3 more than you knew before. I have a ton of ideas, but these will get you started. Good luck.

post #13 of 61

It's hard, isn't it!  

Part of the reason I sent my youngest to half day kindy this year was so that she could meet some "local" (meaning withing 5 mins drive) kids.  I have no intention of her doing first grade there.  However, even this isn't working out as planned.  She is finding friends, sure, but the parents are nuts.  Playdates are very difficult to schedule.  I understand that many parents wouldn't want to just let their kid go to a stranger's house--but I have always welcomed the parent to come too, so that we can get to know each other enough to feel comfortable with regular playdates.  


In our area, most hs activities are "educational" in nature.  I hated the co-ops with a passion.  Our hs area is very religious and I am not.  I did find some success with a local yahoo group.  It is a homeschooling group for our area.  One mom started "Monday Park Days"--each week is a different park, same time though.  Some weeks would require a lot of driving, some weeks it is at a nearby park.  The kids play, the moms chat.  My older dd joined the "tween/teen" bookgroup and it has been great.  The girls have really clicked, and while they all read the book, they rarely actually discuss it for long (I think of it as an educational filter--essentially, if you come to the group it means you like to read.  That common interest has helped connect the girls.)  They often talk for most of it, and play some games too.  Anna will be going to summer camp this year with one of the girls from the group. 


For you though, because your dd isn't technically kindergarten yet, I would branch out and find any kids her age.  Go to library storytime and find 1 mom/dd combo that might be interested in having lunch afterwards.  Then move on to a playdate.  I think your dd is young enough for the parent to come to the first couple playdates.  Find a local yahoo group (homeschool or not) and post for a park playdate.  With these online things, I would start with a park (or other public place) to filter out the people first.  You never know who is really online.  Another downside to just the hs crowd is that many (in our area anyways) live a good distance from us.  It is hard to just have a playdate if you need to drive 30 minutes first.  



post #14 of 61

my dc are in about 18 hrs of "classes" a week. One day is a full day at a local alternative private school where its a "free" day for the kids, so they get alot of unstructured play time there. We decided to enroll the kids there because like you we were finding in near impossible to have play dates. Ones that did get scheduled were often canceled for various reasons.  I think many hs parents are very protective  of their children (not OVER protective). And that leads to parents not comfortable with just sending their kids off to be supervised by other parents that they don't know well. 

post #15 of 61

maybe try meetupdotcom? or posting in the section of mothering where your tribe is? honestly we have so many play dates and we are in a home school group that does activities but its things like making a bird seed feeder, then letting the kids run around and play for hours.


my dd is the same age and just loves her friends! it helps that the moms are like minded so i have a friend too.

post #16 of 61

Hello!  I used to participate in the Mothering forums a bit years ago (don't even remember my user name LOL, it's been that long - this might be it!) but generally don't have time for a lot of on-line stuff.  However, your OP was in the community email that I'm reading as I sit cuddling a needy 4 yr old so here I am :).


Anyway - I agree with others that it has a lot to do with your location... We are in the Kansas City area and every group we have been associated with has had at least a weekly free play recess type event.  We primarily keep to the secular groups, but I am relatively sure that many of the religious group have such things as well.  Many of the co-ops also combine a time of structured activity with non-structured activities.  In our "homeschooling group circle" I would say we conservatively have access to 100+ families at any given time/event. However, when a good friend of mine moved to Denver several years ago she discovered that not every place is like how we are here - even relatively well populated areas - I'm honestly not sure what makes the difference...


So she had to do a lot of work to create community for her family.  She started by seeking local homeschool and unschool groups.  She found that she connected the best with the hand-full of unschooling families she found (I think they may have been mtg somewhat  regularly) - she was an unschooler and I'm not sure what your orientation is, but even if you don't see yourself going that way full-force, I'm quite sure you'll find folks who believe in the importance of free play ;-).  Within the secular group she found there was some challenges and she ultimately ended up starting her own group.  It isn't what she had before the move, but she has some really great friends and the group is adequate in size and scope for what she was looking.  


A couple of things that are true for our area - don't write off the "school age" groups unless they have specific rules about ages - many families may have younger siblings and this really is the age that we see families showing up to join (I'm on the board of one of our local groups).  In fact - I strongly encourage families to get involved sometime between the ages of 3-5 because kids (and strangers) do start to notice that other kids are beginning formal schooling activities.  Don't worry about families that have multiple children - we have 5 kids and while it can help in as much as I have many people to ask to grab a glass of water for the toddler and that there are potential playmates for a game at home it doesn't mean that my kids are satisfied with an insular existence.  Their developmental stages, personal interest and personalities are more or less appropriate for each other at any given time so it has always been important for us to find outside friends.  Finally, if you haven't already, you might also look for "attachment parenting"- relate type groups in your area (LLL, Holistic Mothers Network, Baby wearing groups, API, Friends of Midwives groups, etc).  Obviously not everyone who is AP homeschools, but there is a better than average chance that they'll at least be able to help you find someone who is looking for something similar to your own search.


Good luck!




post #17 of 61

This has been the hardest part of homeschooling for us.  We usually manage to get together with other homeschoolers for something with minimal structure once or twice a week during the school year. But it's been work finding or making things happen and we frequently drive an hour each way. I'm puzzled why it's so hard to find people who will prioritize children's friendships. And I'm covetous of those with built in social situations (siblings and neighbors). The pros still outweigh the cons, however.

post #18 of 61

I feel in a similar boat...We just moved to a new state in September and now I'm the one working while the hubs stays home with our now 3 year old. While she's still 'too young' to be a homeschoooler, lots of other kiddos this age are in preschool. My husband takes her to 3 storytimes a week at the library and is having an even harder time connecting and finding playdates since he's the only papa that is ever there. We just want to find some consistent playdate friends and it's been really hard. We live in Vermont and it's even tricker in the winter...it really feels like you need an excuse to leave the house with kiddos and we just want play time, not a schedule activity per se.

post #19 of 61

I'm in something of the same boat, with my two sons. At least they have each other to play with. But it's always always a school event or some activity where they are doing some learning activity that most of the homeschool groups are doing. Some coops in the area too, where other parents will teach the groups of kids? I thought that was my job, so I've never joined any of those groups. Feels a little lonely here too. I have an infant on the way in May, and fear that we will be lonely then too. It's hard in Massachusetts in the winters. Not that many play places are indoors. Altho we have found a Homeschool gym time in our town. It's only once per month tho & my kids enjoy seeing the other kids, but almost always end up playing with each other there, as they don't really know these other kids. I wish they had more open gym times for homeschoolers there. This gym does a free time during the week too, but it's mostly wee cuties there beyond my 6 & 8 year olds. With them having a sister coming this spring, I'm kind of glad they get that kind of exposure with playing with others of different ages. So maybe check out a local gym? Or Ballet business? See if they will have a drop in time just for homeschoolers? 



post #20 of 61

I am in the same boat.....I have a very social 6yr old and gets along with others. BUT the problem is that I will talk to the mom/dad/grandparent/nanny and I get NOWHERE!? Why? All I want is to let our boys play together.  I'm not asking for it to be during the day. We go to my friends house when her children get out of school. (she is more my friend then my sons) Anyway I'm willing to bend.


I'm just venting.....but I really don't get it!

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