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The kids are homeschooled; they're learning and enjoying the process. How long can we keep doing this? When do we need to stop so the kids can be socialized?
The simple answer is that you do not have to stop home schooling. You can, but you do not need to. Here are some things to consider before deciding to stop homeschooling or keep homeschooling your children as they get older.
Does your child have friends?
My kids are homeschooled, but they have friends. They always seem to want more friends, but they each have a couple of good friends. They get together for play dates. They see each other at homeschooling events, co-op, and game nights. They even have slumber parties. The kids get along well, play well, and sometimes have "deep" conversations. Each of my children has a good friend close in age. They also have several friends that are a year or two older or younger. They get along well with the elderly, adults, teenagers, and babies.
They do not, however, see their friends every day.
My daughter wanted some friends close to home and she thought school was the place to find them. She asked to go to school for Specials (music, art, PE, and computers). I took her for a semester before she asked to stopped. She had hoped to make friends, but she did not click with any of the other kids. That seemed bizarre to me, because she has no problem making friends in swim classes, drama classes, and art classes.
My point with friends is this. The quantity of friends your child has is not important. What is important is the quality of those relationships. Your child is more likely to make friends with someone who has similar interests than with someone who happens to be the exact same age.
So, before you put your child in school so he / she can make friends, consider the following.
* Does your child meet new people well?
* Does your child have one or two close friends?
* Is your child an extrovert and really needs daily doses of lots of human interaction?
* Is your child mature enough to not bend to peer pressure?
Does your child want to go to school?
This should be a big factor to consider in whether or not you put your child in school. Does the kid want to go to school? Why does he or she want to go to school? Why does he or she not want to go to school? Often, the "why" is more important than whether or not your child wants to go to school.
When my daughter was younger we walked past the school while some kids were out at recess. Later, she told me she wanted to go to school. I asked her why, and when I got the answer out of her, it was because she wanted to play on the playground with other kids. I immediately increased the frequency of our play dates and she was quite happy.
My son does not want to go to school. He thinks school would be too much work. If I fail to help him overcome his indolent streak, he might go to school because of why he does not want to.
Are there some classes that your child wants to take but needs to go to school for?
If your child wants to take some classes that you can not teach, school is an easy option. Usually, however, they do not have to go to school, or at least they do not have to go fulltime.
I live in Colorado. In Colorado kids can participate in extra-curricular activities at the local school if they are homeschooled. My local school even let my daughter take Specials.
Other options include your local rec center, or if your child is mature enough, your local junior college.