Did I mention some of those rather pointed comments people make to you? I am sure you could add a few more . So then that rather critical statement - "but how do they cope without spending time with other children?" Of course we all know this is not true. However we are probably more conscious than most mom's of our children's socialisation issues. I kind of count and balance the days. OK so 2 days of play dates, 2 non educational excursions with people around(surely that's considered socialisation?) and then of course sport. I am sure none of you sit and calculate how many days you have spent with and around people. But I used to do that as part of our homeschooling complex (yes I have one.. sometimes).
I recently stopped counting and decided that I would choose key opportunities for my children to get Out and About. My concerns are now more centred around making sure there is a balance between friends, exercise and sport, being content at just being at home and learning experiences outside of the home.
I have only lived in Kalk Bay for over a year now and yet we have already developed a substantial program for our children. Some of you may be new to homeschooling, others new to an area, or just struggling to know how to manage the social issue. This is how I went about it, and in fact still do.
* Phone schools - They always need able bodied individuals whether its for sport, chess or a drama club. Not all schools are open to this but so what, just keep knocking until you find one.
* Scour the Newspapers - I look out for interesting activities that children can participate in like walks, talks, open days, theatre, art exhibitions, shows on ice. Lots of these can be free so don't feel you have to always pay a fortune for your children's activities.
* Internet search - I sometimes just search on Google for "Kalk Bay" or "Fish Hoek" and see what websites are listed and what activities they mention. Sometimes you will find something unexpected.
* Social Networks - A invaluable resource. I belong to a few homeschooling groups which announce various activities that anyone can participate in. If there isn't one, why not start one. Even if its a small group, at least there is a community. Also don't just look at Facebook, there are groups in Linked In, Twitter and so many more.
* Don't Isolate Yourself from School Going Children -They know lots! Sometimes school going children hear about activities that are being advertised in the area. Extra classes, a special event - maybe even an excursion that you could ask about joining.
* Travel a Bit if it's That Important to You - Trying to stay in a 10 km radius could be challenging, especially if you live in a small town. Don't have transport? Take a train. Ask friends whether you can contribute to petrol. Ask if can borrow their second car if they have one. Drop and pick up your husband from work so you can use the car.
*Sports Clubs - Cost more but allow children to participate not only in practises but allows them to compete. If there are none of the more main stream clubs, try the unusual - like lifesaving, horse riding, table tennis. Sometimes the smaller clubs have more opportunities because they are not as sought after and have more space for your child to join the team.
* Go to the Library - Again the community boards there offer lots of activities and groups that meet there regularly - stamp collecting, quilting, the history society etc. And don't let your own interests govern this, your child may well be interested in quilting even if you never learnt how to thread a needle.
* Start Your Own Co-op Don't Feel Left Out - You might hear others talking about co-ops and wonder why you haven't been invited to join. Well don't fret, start your own. It doesn't have to be complicated. Its simply a group learning opportunity which could be drama, art, cooking, science. You don't need to be incredibly gifted to run something like this and if you have older children, let them teach the little ones.
* Go to Gym - Who says it needs to be a team sport. There are lots of opportunities to meet others at the gym!
* Forget About Age Gaps - See it as an opportunity for your children to learn and serve. So often I hear parents complain that the children are too young or too old for their children to join. My children have learnt to interact with older and younger children comfortably because of the cross age combination.
* Encourage Hobbies - Hobbies allow your child to really develop their creative talents and open up a whole different field of experience to them - scrap booking, model building, woodwork, stamp collecting.
* Exercise With your Children - Don't always expect others to do it for you - get going with them. If there isn't a coach or a team, then just get going. Run on the beach in the mornings, hike up the mountains, go bike riding. You'll meet like-minded people as you do that and before you know it you'll have an exercise group meeting regularly.
* Invite Others Over First - Don't always wait for an invitation If your children meet someone at the park and they get on really well, meet the parents, swap telephone numbers and make a play date. I don't leave my children with anyone unless I know them very well. I simply visit with the mom while the children are playing. They get a new friend and so do you.
Most importantly, remember not to compare yourself to others. Every family is different. Running around all over the place for the sake of socialisation could lead to a very harassed and stressed day. Don't try to do everything but maintain balance and ensure quality rather than quantity. I have made many mistakes running after activities only to find them an absolute waste of time and money. I am exhausted by the end of the week, the house is untidy and my husband is wondering when we'll have a decent meal.
So what about you? I would love to hear from you. What have you found really worked for your family?