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S/o - Children's friendships, some Qs I have been pondering


IsabelC
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I wonder whether there was really a time when kids were shooed out of doors and instructed to come home for dinner, and spent their time having happy adventures in a gang of friendly neighborhood kids? Did there really not use to be such a need for parents to curate their child's every interaction? Or was the reality of the golden age of childhood somewhat darker? Did some kids get harassed, bullied, or excluded because their parents neglected to monitor their social life?

 

 

What about the 'school model' of friendship: do we tend to have warped expectations based on the school pattern that each child ought to have a best friend and a same-grade friendship group? What is the normal, natural or optimal pattern for experiencing friendship, or is it so individual that there isn't an actual norm?

 

 

How crucial is the social thing in the scheme of childhood (and adolescence), and in relation to other learning? To what extent should home schooling parents give up 'schooling' time in order to pursue social opportunities?

 

I sometimes find myself feeling a little resentful after I have tried to branch out and give my children more time with other kids. A 10am-12 meetup pretty much takes out the entire day (get all kids up, fed, clean, appropriately dressed and ready, pack extra clothes, snacks, etc., drive half an hour, everything runs late so we're not heading home until 1pm, kids want more food, need quiet time after the excitement, it's 3pm before we can do anything and by that time at least one of the kids is likely to be in meltdown) so I feel it needs to be something worthwhile if we're going to forgo all that time, so it seems like a waste if the kids barely spoke to any of the other kids there. I'm tempted to give up on socializing until I can get the kids up to speed with things like literacy and numeracy!

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No, not everything was puppies and rainbows.  I remember being bullied or teased at times, seeing other kids bullied or teased at times.  Some kids were excluded either all the time or some of the time.  We were still shoved outdoors.  I don't think I ever told my parents about the darker side of things because I figured it wouldn't change anything.  

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I wonder whether there was really a time when kids were shooed out of doors and instructed to come home for dinner, and spent their time having happy adventures in a gang of friendly neighborhood kids? Did there really not use to be such a need for parents to curate their child's every interaction? Or was the reality of the golden age of childhood somewhat darker? Did some kids get harassed, bullied, or excluded because their parents neglected to monitor their social life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid, it was a little of both. Our neighborhood had a ton of kids within a few years of my age, and we played outside ALL the time.  We played kickball, skated, rode bikes, etc.  Most of the time it went just fine. Sometimes we'd get into arguments and sometimes they would get physical. Rarely did any adults intervene.  Generally a kid who crossed a line got punched and that was that.  There was a bit of bullying from time to time but I recall no long term bullying, nor do I recall any kid in the neighborhood who had the reputation of being a bully. 

 

When our older kids were young, it was much the same way, with a handful of kids in the neighborhood who all played together. By the time our youngest were old enough to play outside, there were no kids in the neighborhood. We turned to parks, playgroups, etc. And that led to more parent-driven events.

 

 I much prefer the way it was when I was a kid. I had a ton of freedom and loved that.  And I learned to be nice because otherwise I would be left out. Being picked first in kickball was as much about being a nice kid as it was being a talented kickball player. 

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I wonder whether there was really a time when kids were shooed out of doors and instructed to come home for dinner, and spent their time having happy adventures in a gang of friendly neighborhood kids? Did there really not use to be such a need for parents to curate their child's every interaction? Or was the reality of the golden age of childhood somewhat darker? Did some kids get harassed, bullied, or excluded because their parents neglected to monitor their social life?

 

[sNIP]

 

Yes, I lived both of these experiences.  I was a free-range kid in a group of neighborhood kids having adventures and playing pick-up games, and I was also a bullied kid in a public elementary school where the kids were undersupervised.

 

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We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood teeming with kids. Parents exchange email/phone numbers so we can communicate amongst ourselves if needed. Amazingly, we have an extremely awesome group of kids with a great group of parents. We kick the kids outside to roam the neighborhood regularly. I know if my son's down by Neighbor A's house doing something dangerous, she is likely to speak to him and/or text me. Nobody parents my kids, if that makes sense, but I know we also are aware that kids are kid and they don't always think things through.

 

So, yes, we do have a neighborhood where I can kick my kids out until it's dark out (which is easy to do as the sun sets about 4:30 now). And they do group up and play and interact without a large amount of hover parenting. In the winter they are all out in snow gear, making forts or sledding. This last summer there were bikes everywhere, snacks shared, and sidewalk chalk pictures on every open space.

 

And I don't typically like other people's kids so it says a LOT when I say that we have a good group of kids in this neighborhood. We really did get lucky.

 

ETA: We haven't experienced much bullying issues as I've got three olders who are typically outside simultaneously. Eventually, whatever little Johnny did to Susan comes out. If it involves my own kids, I can teach and help them rectify the situation. If it doesn't involve my kid, I either let it go or notify another parent. And the other parents on the street are involved like that too.

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I was from the latchkey generation so it wasn't unusual to get yourself home from school, dump your bag, eat what you want and out you go to play with other kids.

Social needs depends on kid's needs. Mine ask to be with peer groups so they take academic outside classes to satisfy that need.

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I was from the latchkey generation so it wasn't unusual to get yourself home from school, dump your bag, eat what you want and out you go to play with other kids.

Social needs depends on kid's needs. Mine ask to be with peer groups so they take academic outside classes to satisfy that need.

Funny, I was thinking about this the other day - the whole "latchkey" thing was a HUGE issue when I was growing up.  What happened?  What are kids with two working parents doing now?  Are there more afterschool programs?  More parents juggling schedules?  Or did this huge issue just become a non-issue when it became normalized?

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Funny, I was thinking about this the other day - the whole "latchkey" thing was a HUGE issue when I was growing up.  What happened?  What are kids with two working parents doing now?  Are there more afterschool programs?  More parents juggling schedules?  Or did this huge issue just become a non-issue when it became normalized?

 

There are four vans that show up at youngest dd's school every day to pick up students for afterschool programs and this is a middle school (the elementary has more). There are also a huge group of kids in our neighborhood who walk home to no parents. They usually do the bag dump, food, and head out to play until parents start arriving home.

 

 

 

OP, I grew up completely free range. We lived in several different states but my siblings and I would often leave in the morning, on foot or bike, come back for lunch (only sometimes), go out again, and be back by the time the street lights came on since that meant dinner time. This was every summer and non school day while I was young. We hung out with our friends a lot and I have very fond memories.

 

My own dds don't have that kind of freedom but they do crave time with their friends. Both dds chose ps for middle school and it's been a good experience. They made good friends rather quickly. I think it was important, at least to my own dds.

 

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The golden age?

 

Yes, I think there's not an easy answer. I moved a good bit as a kid. Some neighborhoods were like that, others less so, and the place where I spent my earliest years was in a very rural area with no neighbors at all, so it's always been the case that some kids didn't have access to that sort of childhood. Everywhere I lived, there was some bullying and exclusion sometimes. But there was also the sense that we could deal with it... And, indeed, while I may have experienced some nasty words and shed some bitter tears, it really was never on the level that made me just despondent or anything, or for anyone I knew around the neighborhoods, at least from anything I could see. There was a girl in my middle school... but different venue.

 

I am not of the opinion that kids need to be bullied "a little" to learn social skills. I think that's nonsense. On the other hand, a lot of what is casually labeled bullying these days is more rudeness and kids being kids. Exclusion is usually thoughtless, not targeted. I do think I benefited from learning to deal with that on my own in a way that kids today often don't have a chance to do. I have a theory that the seeming rise of truly nasty bullying among teens today is due in part to not having a chance to work out those more low level things with more independence when they're young. They get to the driver's license and unrestricted internet stage and have never been out of the eyes of a watchful adult and learned to be decent when someone wasn't watching.

 

School friendships?

 

I don't think we can know what would be "normal" if we didn't have schools with their gender conformity and age groupings. There are so few kids who live without that. Even homeschoolers are so diverse... And what is "normal" anyway? Too many variables to answer this, really.

 

Worth the effort?

I say yes, it's worth the effort to find and engage in socialization opportunities. I think the optimal way to do it is really invest the time when they're young to establish a strong friendship group. I mean, school for a 6 yo can be done early in the morning and then you can be out all day at a park with friends if you like. Or it can be done longer on fewer days and the others can be spent doing social things. For us, really building those friendships has paid off. My 10 yos have ample social opportunities and several close friendships. I put a lot less work into those now and expect that in another few years they'll hopefully be even more off my plate.

 

My kids are happier with friends. I see how they learn from their friends. I see how they have developed leadership from being in different groups. How they've learned listening skills, compromise, how to be in a group and work with different dynamics. Basically I think they've learned a lot of really valuable things.

 

I do think it's best to choose how to invest your social time though. We've found that team type activities like Destination Imagination or Robotics teams are really good for forging friendships and learning at the same time. I understand that 4H and scouts can be similar. Park days are good... but only if the group is pretty stable. Small groups are better than large ones. Things like dance and art and classes and team sports are not so good for making friends, I've found. Especially not if the kids are in school. I don't think of those as social times anymore.

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This isn't exactly what you were asking but as a leader of a busy coop for 7 years I've seen lots of homeschool families come and go. The kids who are slower to warm up need consistent time with the same group of kids and then strong bonds are formed. The kids who only come occasionally don't really make friendships in the same way that kids who are always around each other do. And when they get to middle school age it is sometimes even harder. I don't know what your situation is exactly but I've seen parents bring 9-14 year olds to one activity every few months or less and then wonder why they beg to go to school. Highly social kids need more interaction then that and less social kids need more consistent interactions.

 

I know it's a lot of work. I "lose" a whole day every week. And only you know if your kids academic needs need to take priority for a time. But for me and my family, the weekly interaction with the same group of families for 12+ years (we did weekly park days before starting the coop) has been a huge part if why homeschooling has been successful for us. I can't see sigs on my phone so I don't know how old your kids are. I have 9 ages 5 months to 17. It's hard and our house would probably be cleaner if we didn't do coop :/ but I am so glad that I made their social development a high priority. Our coop is like am extended family and my kids have hugely benefitted from not only the great friends but also the close bonds formed with the other parents in the group. It really had been an amazing thing but it takes effort to actually be there.

 

I often tell new homeschoolers that they are not only taking on their education but also pretty much their whole social life where it would revolve around school if they were there every day.

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Children really were sent outside to play unsupervised.  Happy adventures happened sometimes.  So did dangerous activities.  I cringe sometimes to think of the things we did without adult supervision. We played in the street a lot.  When it snowed, one hilly street was left unplowed for children to go sledding.  We learned the rules of the hill from older children.  In the summer we climbed the remains of an old strip mine.  Bullying, harassment, and worse were rarely reported to adults.  If it was, the victim was more likely to be admonished than the aggressor.   Excluding a child was common and there was little recourse for the excluded child. 

 

Friends, especially those of elementary and younger children were mostly opportunity playmates.  We played with similar aged children who lived on the same block, relatives, and the children of our parents’ friends.  When we were considered old enough to cross multiple streets on our own and could tell time, we were allowed to walk to the playground and to homes of classmates who lived in our town.  Parents would be asked permission to have friends come to play or to allow their children to visit friends, but it was the children who did the arranging.  Visits with school friends who lived farther than walking distance were rare.   

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Yes, I lived both of these experiences.  I was a free-range kid in a group of neighborhood kids having adventures and playing pick-up games, and I was also a bullied kid in a public elementary school where the kids were undersupervised.

 

 

This was pretty much me too, though I was not bullied.  I was teased a bit in middle school- I was fat and ugly, and had glasses and braces (this was before pretty much everyone had braces). Oh, and shy too. So, yeah, there was teasing, but I didn't think of it as bullying.

 

One of the differences was that most of the moms in the neighborhood were home during the day.  They weren't really involved with us but they kept their eyes open.  We knew there would be someone to go to if we needed an adult.  And we  knew adults were watching and had the phone numbers of all the other parents - and would not hesitate to report misbehavior.  

 

This was middle-1960s.  I graduated from high school in 1974.

 

It's been very different for my kids.  I wish they could have had a childhood like mine.  

 

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You know, there were "golden" things about that age for kids like solo adventures and unstructured play. But there are "golden" things about this age, like less neighborhood bullying and more opportunities for extracurricular learning. And, of course, it's all an amalgam. I know of a few neighborhoods that are a lot more like the old days where the kids - even as young as 4 yo - roam free, go to others' houses, find their way home in the evening. And I knew kids back in the day who weren't allowed out without a structured playdate and took a ton of classes and afterschool sports. I think parents just do their own thing and communities do their own thing within the trends.

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Oh and some of my fondest memories are of tooling around by myself for hours.  It was a bit lonely but I was pretty happy in my own little world.  

 

The bolded is me too. I went to school, so I always had a few friends from my class, but I can honestly say I would have happily exchanged all the elementary school friends I ever had for the opportunity to spend more time alone with my books. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated if my mom had set up play dates for me! But that is me, and I am extremely introverted. 

 

My social kid (Ms. 9) asks for social time, and we provide that as far as practical. (She has two standing weekly play dates, so even if I haven't organized anything, she gets a play date on Monday, another play date on Tuesday, and extracurricular activities with social interaction on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Most weeks that satisfies her craving for social time.) But my other two don't ask for social opportunities. Ms. 6 sees her former best friend from school twice a week, and shows absolutely no desire to have any further interactions. Mr. 11 has no regular social activities at all, and doesn't want to. I have been trying to create friendships for him since he was born, but I am spectacularly unsuccessful. We've found a few kids with whom he was happy to interact, and they likewise enjoyed it, but he just isn't interested in following up anything. The kid he got on best with at school lives in our street just a couple of minutes walk away, and ds won't go and visit him! Is there a point where I should just accept that this kid isn't a social kid?

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I am not of the opinion that kids need to be bullied "a little" to learn social skills. I think that's nonsense. On the other hand, a lot of what is casually labeled bullying these days is more rudeness and kids being kids. Exclusion is usually thoughtless, not targeted. I do think I benefited from learning to deal with that on my own in a way that kids today often don't have a chance to do. I have a theory that the seeming rise of truly nasty bullying among teens today is due in part to not having a chance to work out those more low level things with more independence when they're young. They get to the driver's license and unrestricted internet stage and have never been out of the eyes of a watchful adult and learned to be decent when someone wasn't watching.

 

 

 

I hadn't really considered it in that light, but your theory does actually make sense to me.

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The bolded is me too. I went to school, so I always had a few friends from my class, but I can honestly say I would have happily exchanged all the elementary school friends I ever had for the opportunity to spend more time alone with my books. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated if my mom had set up play dates for me! But that is me, and I am extremely introverted. 

 

My social kid (Ms. 9) asks for social time, and we provide that as far as practical. (She has two standing weekly play dates, so even if I haven't organized anything, she gets a play date on Monday, another play date on Tuesday, and extracurricular activities with social interaction on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Most weeks that satisfies her craving for social time.) But my other two don't ask for social opportunities. Ms. 6 sees her former best friend from school twice a week, and shows absolutely no desire to have any further interactions. Mr. 11 has no regular social activities at all, and doesn't want to. I have been trying to create friendships for him since he was born, but I am spectacularly unsuccessful. We've found a few kids with whom he was happy to interact, and they likewise enjoyed it, but he just isn't interested in following up anything. The kid he got on best with at school lives in our street just a couple of minutes walk away, and ds won't go and visit him! Is there a point where I should just accept that this kid isn't a social kid?

Take your cues from your kids.  If they are content, then be happy!

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This isn't exactly what you were asking but as a leader of a busy coop for 7 years I've seen lots of homeschool families come and go. The kids who are slower to warm up need consistent time with the same group of kids and then strong bonds are formed. The kids who only come occasionally don't really make friendships in the same way that kids who are always around each other do. And when they get to middle school age it is sometimes even harder. I don't know what your situation is exactly but I've seen parents bring 9-14 year olds to one activity every few months or less and then wonder why they beg to go to school. Highly social kids need more interaction then that and less social kids need more consistent interactions.

 

I know it's a lot of work. I "lose" a whole day every week. And only you know if your kids academic needs need to take priority for a time. But for me and my family, the weekly interaction with the same group of families for 12+ years (we did weekly park days before starting the coop) has been a huge part if why homeschooling has been successful for us. I can't see sigs on my phone so I don't know how old your kids are. I have 9 ages 5 months to 17. It's hard and our house would probably be cleaner if we didn't do coop :/ but I am so glad that I made their social development a high priority. Our coop is like am extended family and my kids have hugely benefitted from not only the great friends but also the close bonds formed with the other parents in the group. It really had been an amazing thing but it takes effort to actually be there.

 

I think you are probably right about that. And I think what you describe is part of my problem.

Our pattern is that I will resolve to do more social stuff. I'll make a massive effort to get to things. I'll feel disappointed that my kids muck around and don't seem to get "in" with the other kids in an established group. Because every time we go I end up feeling left out and upset (on the kids' behalf, that is - because adults will either be friendly and welcoming or at least make a decent pretense!), we won't go regularly. This will make it doubly difficult for my kids to infiltrate the group (especially the two with ASD). Then I'll decide that group activities don't work and give up. Until the next time I feel motivated and the cycle repeats.

 

I guess the only solution is to pick a group and make a committment to go for several months, expecting that it won't necessarily 'work' for the first few weeks?

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I do think it's best to choose how to invest your social time though. We've found that team type activities like Destination Imagination or Robotics teams are really good for forging friendships and learning at the same time. I understand that 4H and scouts can be similar. Park days are good... but only if the group is pretty stable. Small groups are better than large ones. Things like dance and art and classes and team sports are not so good for making friends, I've found. Especially not if the kids are in school. I don't think of those as social times anymore.

 

That also makes sense. I started out with the assumption that any group activity could yield friends, but IME having times when the kids are in a room (or on a playing field, or wherever) with other kids is not the same things as having real opportunities to create friendships. Many activities the only kids who see each other outside of training/class are the ones who were already friends from school. My Ms. 9 has been going to gymnastics regularly since she was 5 and has never been invited to do anything with the girls she chats with in class.

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What are kids with two working parents doing now? Are there more afterschool programs? More parents juggling schedules? Or did this huge issue just become a non-issue when it became normalized?

Here the neighborhood library and the teen center has become the latchkey hangout for 6th-12th grade. For the K-5 kids, most are in afterschool care or with grandparents.

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I think you are probably right about that. And I think what you describe is part of my problem.

Our pattern is that I will resolve to do more social stuff. I'll make a massive effort to get to things. I'll feel disappointed that my kids muck around and don't seem to get "in" with the other kids in an established group. Because every time we go I end up feeling left out and upset (on the kids' behalf, that is - because adults will either be friendly and welcoming or at least make a decent pretense!), we won't go regularly. This will make it doubly difficult for my kids to infiltrate the group (especially the two with ASD). Then I'll decide that group activities don't work and give up. Until the next time I feel motivated and the cycle repeats.

 

I guess the only solution is to pick a group and make a committment to go for several months, expecting that it won't necessarily 'work' for the first few weeks?

I think this. I have seen the very same thing in our co-op (in fact, I was like, "Wait! Is she in our co-op???). You have to BE THERE for people to get to know you. There are some hit-and-run parents ;) who scurry in at the last second, their kid(s) do a class or two, the parent does their required duty, then they bolt away when their class is done. I understand, a lot of hsers are introverts, but all the more reason to BE THERE for enough time to form some connections with others. Some, for instance, take their lunches elsewhere, because the lunch room is "chaotic." Okay, but you WILL NOT get to know anyone this way and your kids WILL NOT find their way amongst the other kids. Plus, eating with people is a highly bonding activity.

 

In our co-op, we have monthly support meetings. I know because I lead them. ;) They are nearly always under-attended. But this is a golden opportunity to get to know other moms at co-op!

 

I have seen some people become "known" in co-op very quickly and others who blend into the wallpaper for years. Sometimes, the quick-warmers are military moms; they have learned how to warm up quickly because they only have three years before they head somewhere else. They do this by participating, by volunteering, by proactively making connections. In a year's time, they have a "presence" indistinguishable from the ten-year-veterans.

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I wonder whether there was really a time when kids were shooed out of doors and instructed to come home for dinner, and spent their time having happy adventures in a gang of friendly neighborhood kids? Did there really not use to be such a need for parents to curate their child's every interaction? Or was the reality of the golden age of childhood somewhat darker? Did some kids get harassed, bullied, or excluded because their parents neglected to monitor their social life?

 

 

What about the 'school model' of friendship: do we tend to have warped expectations based on the school pattern that each child ought to have a best friend and a same-grade friendship group? What is the normal, natural or optimal pattern for experiencing friendship, or is it so individual that there isn't an actual norm?

 

 

How crucial is the social thing in the scheme of childhood (and adolescence), and in relation to other learning? To what extent should home schooling parents give up 'schooling' time in order to pursue social opportunities?

 

I sometimes find myself feeling a little resentful after I have tried to branch out and give my children more time with other kids. A 10am-12 meetup pretty much takes out the entire day (get all kids up, fed, clean, appropriately dressed and ready, pack extra clothes, snacks, etc., drive half an hour, everything runs late so we're not heading home until 1pm, kids want more food, need quiet time after the excitement, it's 3pm before we can do anything and by that time at least one of the kids is likely to be in meltdown) so I feel it needs to be something worthwhile if we're going to forgo all that time, so it seems like a waste if the kids barely spoke to any of the other kids there. I'm tempted to give up on socializing until I can get the kids up to speed with things like literacy and numeracy!

 

Pretty much, that's how my childhood was; sometimes I didn't see my mother for hours on end. :-) There was never a time when my parents set up "play dates" (a term which annoys me to no end. I cannot tell you why, but it is so.) If I couldn't get there on my own two feet, I didn't go.

 

I did not have a best friend. My friendship group was made up of neighborhood children, who although we might have been *close* in age, we weren't necessarily in the same classrooms at school because there were usually two or more classes of each grade, and there was that whole pesky cut-off date,  such that even if we were just a month or two apart in age, we could be in a different grade at school. Mostly we didn't notice.

 

I would never advocate giving up "schooling" time in favor of socializing. I say this as an unschooler. I would not do a "meet-up" that began at 10 a.m. I went to park days that began at noon, once a month, and called it good. Sometimes there were random get-togethers in the early afternoon, or birthday parties or pool parties in the summer, but I don't do meet-ups. When my dc were younger, we had a homeschool Camp Fire club, and we met together once or twice a month to discuss badges and stuff, and we did some parades in the community, and went to camp a couple of times. :-)

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I think you are probably right about that. And I think what you describe is part of my problem.

Our pattern is that I will resolve to do more social stuff. I'll make a massive effort to get to things. I'll feel disappointed that my kids muck around and don't seem to get "in" with the other kids in an established group. Because every time we go I end up feeling left out and upset (on the kids' behalf, that is - because adults will either be friendly and welcoming or at least make a decent pretense!), we won't go regularly. This will make it doubly difficult for my kids to infiltrate the group (especially the two with ASD). Then I'll decide that group activities don't work and give up. Until the next time I feel motivated and the cycle repeats.

 

I guess the only solution is to pick a group and make a committment to go for several months, expecting that it won't necessarily 'work' for the first few weeks?

Yep. Again I don't know your kids ages but I was fortunate to start this when my oldest was 6. I needed the weekly park days and when the kids started getting older we knew we needed to create something that would work for them as they grew. That they would have a place to belong and a group to be a part of especially so that school woulnt be a draw for social reasons.

 

I would expect that if your kids are older than 9-10 it will take a few months of going consistently to really break into the group. having play dates outside of coop really helps too. Hopefully you have an idea of a group that might work and can start there.

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I grew up pretty free range. I loved my freedom. I rode all over town on my bike by the time I was 8. I had my own paper route at 10. My dh was pretty much a free range kid too, but he was bullied horribly. He desperately needed more parental help and really, I could've used a little more attention from healthy adults in town. Free range has it's good sides, but after living it, I know that while I might want to give my kids those freedoms, I need to keep enough of an eye on things to know when they need me to step back in.

 

 

As a teen I really could've used some help in figuring out the social thing and it would've done me a LOT of good to have been given more opportunity to work through it all. By my teen years we no longer lived in town nor close to it and I was very isolated. I see the same problem with my younger siblings. My older three siblings went to school and they were much more sure of themselves much earlier in their social skills. I'm not saying that homeschooling is to blame, I am saying that making sure there is social opportunities is maybe a really good idea. I'm planning on homeschooling my boys right through high school, but I am putting a lot of effort into the social aspect of things.

 

My oldest boy does better with small groups and one on one. I can recognize that each child has different social needs, but there are still social needs, even if they differ.

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Yes, we played outside for hours every school day (weather allowing), and nearly all day during the summer.  Parents did not accompany children over about age 3 or 4.  We had so many great experiences.

 

Yes, there were bullies, and crazy people, and mean old ladies, and pedophiles, and gangs, and bad influences, and dirty books.

 

Yes, we lived through all of it and came out OK.

 

I wouldn't shelter my kids from the type of neighborhood I grew up in.  I would hope to teach them how to take care of themselves a little better than I did.

 

My neighborhood is not designed for free-range kids.  There isn't much my kids can access by foot or bike, and they aren't allowed in the library or rec center without an adult.  And there's only one other family with kids on our street.  They could walk a mile to the park, but I keep hearing about cops arresting moms for letting their kids do that.

 

I do send my kids outside to play when I can.  They have pickup ball games and dig in the backyard ravine for animal bones and who knows what else.  I let them stay home "alone" occasionally.  They walk to & from the school bus stop and let themselves in and get some of their own meals.  It's a start.  At 8yo I was ahead of them in some ways, behind in other ways.

 

I think your kids might need time to warm up and make friends with the 10-12 play group.  My kids usually don't "make a friend" that fast in an adult-organized activity.  But they do make friends and enjoy themselves over time.

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Yes, I lived both of these experiences.  I was a free-range kid in a group of neighborhood kids having adventures and playing pick-up games, and I was also a bullied kid in a public elementary school where the kids were undersupervised.

 

 

Exactly my experience. At home we were sent out to play, don't come back till to time style but was hugely bullied at school right the way through. 

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Funny, I was thinking about this the other day - the whole "latchkey" thing was a HUGE issue when I was growing up.  What happened?  What are kids with two working parents doing now?  Are there more afterschool programs?  More parents juggling schedules?  Or did this huge issue just become a non-issue when it became normalized?

 

Some aftercare, but also some parents are making their kids sit inside the house while they are "home alone."  Partly because people are afraid of predators, and partly because they are afraid of CPS.  I know I tell my kids to stay indoors and not answer the door when they are home without me.  When I was their age, I was a latchkey kid but I played outside.

 

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Going to school does not mean that everyone has friends. We pulled my daughter from school not only because she was being bullied, but also because she really had no friends. She was in a small school with only one 6th grade class though. In a larger school it might be different. Thankfully, we have several kids in our neighborhood, and DD spends at least an hour playing outside each day just like I did as a kid. What I like about neighborhood friends is that she is free to play with kids of both sexes and all ages. She is not limited to girls her own age.

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My answers inside in red...

I wonder whether there was really a time when kids were shooed out of doors and instructed to come home for dinner, and spent their time having happy adventures in a gang of friendly neighborhood kids? yes.  I was pretty restricted in what I was allowed to do and how far I could go- even in the gentle suburbs... but I pretty much went outside and came home when I saw my mom's car drive by.  Did there really not use to be such a need for parents to curate their child's every interaction? yes but this was also a time when no one in my neighborhodd did any organized activities- no sports, dance, cheer, hocket, soccer, NOTHING but maybe scouts 1 day/week.  Or was the reality of the golden age of childhood somewhat darker?yes.  Kids were still kids- we just didn't have all the social media we have now to prove it, THANK YOU JESUS! ;)  Did some kids get harassed, bullied, or excluded because their parents neglected to monitor their social life? yes. Oh heck yes- I was targeted mercilessly.

 

 

What about the 'school model' of friendship: do we tend to have warped expectations based on the school pattern that each child ought to have a best friend and a same-grade friendship group? yes. That is pretty typical- most adults have friends the same age/place in life as they are- I think it;s a mix of preference/convenience and what is expected/conditioned from earlier days in school. But slightly less age-based- as in, all the new mommies at church hang out together, whether they are 21 or 31.  What is the normal, natural or optimal pattern for experiencing friendship,???or is it so individual that there isn't an actual norm? Probably.

 

 

How crucial is the social thing in the scheme of childhood (and adolescence), and in relation to other learning? ???To what extent should home schooling parents give up 'schooling' time in order to pursue social opportunities???? I have found it more sensible to pursue the child's interests, rather than just random homeschoolers who happen to be available for a "play date." So their friends share their interests- not just a time slot.

 

I sometimes find myself feeling a little resentful after I have tried to branch out and give my children more time with other kids. A 10am-12 meetup pretty much takes out the entire day (get all kids up, fed, clean, appropriately dressed and ready, pack extra clothes, snacks, etc., drive half an hour, everything runs late so we're not heading home until 1pm, kids want more food, need quiet time after the excitement, it's 3pm before we can do anything and by that time at least one of the kids is likely to be in meltdown) so I feel it needs to be something worthwhile if we're going to forgo all that time, so it seems like a waste if the kids barely spoke to any of the other kids there. I'm tempted to give up on socializing until I can get the kids up to speed with things like literacy and numeracy! Based on the example above, I'm guessing your kids are younger?  Most homeschoolers I know get together in the afternoon or at least after lunch- unless they are specifically meeting early to accommodate toddler naps OR the class is an academic one and everyone wants to start the day with it and then have the rest of the day for other subjects. Also, if the meet-up runs that close to lunch, plan for that- pack lunches and eat there, at a nearby park, or even in the car on the way home.

 

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I've not read all of this thread, and I am sure I am a complete misfit and oddball here, but I do not think kids need any "socialization" other than what they get from day to day living with their family and family friends, shopping, etc. We never did any "socializing," and both my girls turned out great, if I do say so myself. They see family as very important, but they also get along just fine with anybody and everybody they meet. They are more mature than most of the kids (young adults) their age in many ways, they are totally comfortable with themselves and who they are, what they look like, etc. Not sure where I am going with this, lol, other than to just repeat that I don't believe kids need playdates, socializing, etc. to turn out well and be healthy and happy and smart.  :leaving:

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I've thought about this often, the "golden age". My dad grew up really free range, and his parents had no idea what he and his siblings got up to. There were broken bones and stitches from stupid stunts and fighting. His youngest brother dropped out of school in 8th grade, in part from bullying by kids and teachers. He and his brothers teased their sister so much that it damaged their relationship to this day. (He taught us our siblings could be best friends for life, but we had to start now treating them well.) My mom was sexually abused and bullied by a stepbrother. My FIL and his brothers did many dangerous things, including playing in an abandoned mine. One of his brothers died in childhood.

 

Yes, that freedom was great, and there was a good side to how they were raised. But I have to think that the reason they raised us differently is that they DID NOT WANT THAT for their own kids. With my dad it was explicit. He wanted to know where we were, he wanted to know and trust the adults in our lives. He wanted a closer relationship so he could see if we were in trouble. He protected us because he had experienced and seen the bad things that can happen. Now he enjoyed being wild in the country, and has a lot of fun telling those stories. But it's telling that he chose something different from his own kids.

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I was a free range/latch key kid and I guess it was all right.  My good freinds were my freinds from school because, well, they were like me. They were friends I chose and we had similar interests and ideals.  I basically hung out with the nerdy smart kids and I have fond memories.  The neighborhood kids were different.  We were sort of thrown together due to proximity and many just really weren't for me.  I don't remember any bullying but I did have exposure to drugs and alcohol (things I never even encountered in High School with my school friends).  When we were younger we did run around and play I guess (I remember running around the neighborhood playing Charlie's Angels).  I also remember lots of broken bones from people doing carzy unsupervised things.  I don't see nearly as many kids today with broken bones even with all of the sports that they play!

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Children really were sent outside to play unsupervised. Happy adventures happened sometimes. So did dangerous activities. I cringe sometimes to think of the things we did without adult supervision. We played in the street a lot. When it snowed, one hilly street was left unplowed for children to go sledding. We learned the rules of the hill from older children. In the summer we climbed the remains of an old strip mine. Bullying, harassment, and worse were rarely reported to adults. If it was, the victim was more likely to be admonished than the aggressor. Excluding a child was common and there was little recourse for the excluded child.

 

Friends, especially those of elementary and younger children were mostly opportunity playmates. We played with similar aged children who lived on the same block, relatives, and the children of our parents’ friends. When we were considered old enough to cross multiple streets on our own and could tell time, we were allowed to walk to the playground and to homes of classmates who lived in our town. Parents would be asked permission to have friends come to play or to allow their children to visit friends, but it was the children who did the arranging. Visits with school friends who lived farther than walking distance were rare.

This was really like my childhood. We ran around all the time in my neighborhood. At age 5, and 6 even. There were lots of older kids around, and my older brother was somewhat in the mix looking out for me, but still it was pretty much independent roaming. I look back and get nostalgic about this kind of life, but yet I cannot fathom it for my kids! I feel strongly about how kids need to have independent free play, and not be hovered over. Yet, I can't seem to feel the need to be near them and want to protect them from all kinds of crap.

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My 13yo son is very "free range". He and a large group of boys play outside all day after school, home for dinner, and back out for an hour of"ghost in the graveyard". If the weather is terrible they play board games in different houses. And they also go on long 10 mile bike rides on our small city greenway or ride to a full basketball court for pick up games. They are a range of public school, charter school, private school and home school boys grades 6-9. They get along great for the most part. Some are not "poplular" kids at their schools and their parents are thrilled with the neighborhood friendships. I am happy he gets to experience what I did growing up.

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