Norah's been complaining about being lonely, not just complaining, but crying in my arms. I saw this coming. I feared it might happen, since Norah is actually a very healthy kid socially and loves people of all ages and types outside our family.
I know some idiots out there could use what I've just admitted to undermine my decision to home school. I mention it because I think it could help other homeschooling families, since I am sure my daughter isn't the only kid who has ever felt this way. The "socialization issue" is something most homeschooling parents scoff at and with good reason. Kids don't need countless silly, surface-level friendships to be happy and healthy. They need a few, meaningful friendships and that is what Norah has expressed a desire for.
I'm going against my inclination to sweep this under the rug and blogging about it even though it's a little uncomfortable. But, I'm convinced Norah's dilemma is not unique to home schooled children. We all know that school kids have the same issues all the time. If a child doesn't connect with anyone else in their class and is left to sit alone at lunch or recess, they are just as lonely and isolated, if not more so, since they are separated from their loved ones all day. And, while I think public school would certainly increase Norah's chances of finding a friend, I am not convinced that friend would be the kind she is expressing a desire for anyway.
We've been a part of a home school co-op for some time and we try to meet with that group every other week or so, but for Norah, that just wasn't cutting it. She has been craving more companionship. I could tell her to suck it up or just ignore her and hope her loneliness passes, but it's not like she is asking for something immoral or dangerous and I hate to see her suffer when I could do something to fix the situation. So, I've come up with a creative solution to ease her isolation and give her a "classmate" on a regular basis.
Starting last week, Providence, one of her best friends from church, has been coming over one afternoon a week and staying till the next. When she is here, we include Providence in all our regular plans for those days, from meals to games to reading time to our home-made swim lessons to school work. I sit in between them and while Norah does her lessons, I tutor Providence.
Providence's mom home schools her like I home school Norah, and she is a good friend of mine from church. She is being gracious enough to share her daughter with mine and somehow, she trusts me enough to give up two days of her own instruction time so they can be together, which is huge. It's a stretch for me to have three kids on those days, but a blessing, too, since I get to use my creativity and smarts to bless another kid and through it, our family is growing in friendship and sharing our lives with another most-beloved family.
And, Norah didn't complain about being lonely even once in this last week. Providence is due for another overnight visit today. So, our socialization "problem" is solved.