As a local Support Group Leader, I get many phone calls and emails similar to the one I paraphrased below. See the edited letter (for privacy) and my response.
You don’t know me but I feel like I know you, just because of your
postings and most recently, your article in the Old Schoolhouse. You
seem like a person who could help me with giving my 11 year old son
some words of wisdom. I hope you will pardon my forwardness but I’m
looking for some good, godly advice. This is just our second year
homeschooling and although it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever
done, I know this is what we are called to be doing right now. I
truly believe it is the best thing for them.
We live in a neighborhood where the houses are very close together
and there are lots of children. We are blessed to live here.
However, my son has remained close with many of the boys, all of whom
attend public school. Here lately, my son has been feeling like he’s
missing out on so many “fun” things. When I questioned him, he
listed many things that I could dispute except one: His own locker.
I couldn’t help him there. Anyways, he wants to attend the dances
and the games and all those things. I have been dreading this
moment. I am sorry I’m rambling, but I wanted to give you a little
How can I equip him with the words needed to come back to his
friends. He’s so insecure. He just doesn’t want to miss out on
anything or be different in any way. And even though homeschooling
is very common now, it still puts him in a position of being
different. Sometimes I wish that I could send him for a week so he
would understand how much better this is for him. Thank you for any
words of wisdom you can offer me. I really appreciate it.
It is completely understandable that he wants to be like his peers. This is something we all crave, though we have an adult perspective on it now. One of the best things you can do for him is to introduce him to new peers. This will not be easy because it does take time, but it will be his saving grace as he enters high school, college and beyond. Have you considered allowing him to be involved in some of the activities the homeschool ministry plans and hosts? There are always many adults in attendance at those events.
You may also start looking for opportunities for him to do some amazing cool things his schooled friends cannot do. Find someone in the working world who would bring him to work for a day to see his job. Find someone else to do it another month. You can call it career exploration or whatever, but it will be something really neat he cannot do in school.
I am going to attach for you my 17 year old daughter’s high school portfolio. Check out her community service and travel and work experience. She is now (as a Senior) working on a film here locally and worked on a movie and tv shoot last year, something she could not have done were she in school.
Several student we know work down at the science center. Perhaps the Frazier Historical Museum if he is into weapons or history.
If you cannot find a group to join, make one. This will not work in his case, but when we started home educating Christina I knew that friends would be the first major hurdle. I posted to the local email loop that we would host a girls book club for ages 10-12 (she was 11). I picked the books, I opened my home, other people brought a snack to share. It was easy to have it in my home one time a month, and my kids all looked forward to it. I just started this again for my younger girls and it got too big so I moved it to the library.
Have you considered letting him do co-op classes at CEC (Christian Education Consortium)? Are you familiar with them?
Of course, all the answers do not mean he needs to be away from the family. Make your home more inviting than his friends’. Have a pleasant, loving, fun family and he will be drawn there. Where do you attend church? Are they family friendly? Are the families together for worship and classes? We belong to a great Church Fellowship that meets in homes…whole families together from age 2-college age for the kids, and of course the grown ups.
Also, make dinner time fun. Tell everyone that tonight is joke night and all family members need to come to dinner with a joke. Or “News Item of Interest” night. Everyone brings a piece of news, either from a magazine, newspaper, or the internet to share. We sometimes do “Double joke night” just to be silly. I always laugh hysterically and say mine is the funniest. This keeps it from being competitive. I just insist mine is always funniest and end any competition that way.
Play games as a family. Risk, monopoly, battleship. Let him stay up late from time to time, and remind him how nice it is to sleep in, when his school friends were at the cold bus stop at 6:30 AM.
There is a great book called: Plants Grown Up that has all kinds of Biblically based Character qualities and neat activities that go along with them for boys. It might be cool to get him a book like: Backyard Ballistics. Tell him to pick a project and he can do it with Dad or during a weekday when friends are at school.
I am just jotting things down as they come to mind. I hope some of these ideas will help you. Basically, you want to turn his heart toward home, where you can make it a point to turn it ultimately to the Lord as the source of his satisfaction. One of the best things you can do it make him know he is wanted and needed and can do amazing things as a result of being home.
Please let me know if you need additional ideas or help. I know many homeschool moms with boys and they may have more ideas for you.
We will be praying for your son and your situation.