Making your way in the world today Takes everything you've got; Taking a break from all your worries Sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name, And they're always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of belonging and community lately. Various conversations on and off line have made me realise how important it is to have a place that you are accepted and comfortable. Where people sympathise, advise and help when there are problems and are genuinely pleased and celebrate alongside you your successes.
I know how lucky I am to live in an area with a huge thriving local home education community where pretty much any activity you want is on offer and you can go to something most days. A big community though may make things harder. When I joined the home ed social scene there were only a couple of local activities on offer and if you wanted to meet people that is what you had to do and new people were relatively rare, everyone knew you were new and made an effort to welcome you. That isn’t so easy now, not that people are less welcoming but new people don’t stick out the same way as there are so many more groups in the area with so many more people. Unfortunately means people can get missed. I am often unsure if someone is new or just I’ve just never crossed paths with them. The emphasis is more on newcomers to say I’m new and need help which I imagine is very daunting.
It is interesting how many of us (not just new home educators) admit to finding the socialising part of home ed very, very hard. For me personally I’m great on social media, and always the first to go and chat and welcome new people, I find that part easy. I am not good at normal conversation though, slightly deaf and generally lacking the knack. I struggle with the 75% of people at groups that fall between genuine friends (just clicked with, the inner circle 😉 ) and complete strangers. I tend to avoid the large playmeets that go on for hours unless with friends as find them painful. Luckily there is enough on that I am comfortable at to keep Sam happy as that is the important bit.
I think what I am trying to say is please don’t let anxiety and nervousness hold you back. There will be plenty of other nervous people there. It isn’t just home ed children who need friends (actually some don’t) it is the parents who do. We all need somewhere where we can moan about a bad day and not be told ‘well if they were in school…’ or get ideas on how to help with a problem and not get ‘well if they were at school..’ or just some adult company and a good laugh. The support is often practical too, I am not the only one to babysit for hospital appointments, watch children in workshops, lend resources etc.
I think social media and the move to Facebook is wonderful. It makes groups more chatty. For the cripplingly shy like me it helps make acquaintances into friends as you recognise kindred spirits, identify common interests away from home ed and children and get to know people better than constantly interrupted conversations allow. I’ve Facebook friends that I’ve never met but we’ve chatted online in various forums and followed each others blogs for years. My advice is to embrace it, post on groups local and national, reply and share stories, send friend requests to people (I am rubbish at this, starting to try to be more proactive but please feel free to add me). Even if you can’t get there physically that community support is there and when you do make it you’ll ‘know’ people.
I’ve heard a few people say lately that they’ve found home ed lonely and it breaks my heart as it really shouldn’t be, be brave come join the village 🙂
I will just add we have done stuff the last two days; trampolining, Maths, English, Latin, Spanish, history (including most of today on Civilisation 5) but not really interesting blog stuff. We did do a lot of drawing this morning including this pretty butterfly by me (every blog needs a photo 😉 )- always learning with him.