I received an e-mail from a reader recently. He and his wife were thinking of taking their child on a travel adventure, a taste of worldschooling, but were concerned about socialization. They thought she wouldn’t “get enough socialization away from her friends” and asked for my opinion. It’s an interesting question. Here we’re obviously taking the word socialization in it’s simplest form, hanging out with friends. That’s not really what it means, the sociological definition is about acquiring the habits and beliefs of your social group or community, or something like that. It’s not something I spend a lot of time worrying about, particularly as we flit between multiple societies where those norms differ hugely.
Learning how society runs is much better learned from adults than from a school yard group of children anyway. I thought I’d share my answer because a lot of you must wonder how it works for full time homeschoolers, family travellers or worldschoolers. Remember we travelled full time for 6 years and were rarely slow travellers. We are whole life homeschoolers, this wasn’t a gap year and my kids were not pulled out of school and put back in afterwards. Being in school does seem to change kids and their feelings of social need.
I haven’t prettied the email up to make a blog post, this is more or less how I wrote it, without thinking too much. I don’t have all the answers, I’m not the authority, I just know how my own kids handle it and how I would have handled it had it been me.
Will Homeschooled or Worldschooled Kids Get Enough Socialisation?
What My Travelling Kids Social Life Looks Like
- They have each other, they are both boys, they don’t go to school, they are close. This is important.
- They have very good friends, also boys, also homeschooled, in London, we visit often for days on end.
- They had good friends through homeschool group back in Australia, we’ve lost touch.
- In London we also attend various homeschool meet ups and sometimes, Forest School, bumping into the same kids over and over again.
- When we travel, we meet people, including children. Some they get on with, some they would rather avoid. You can’t just throw kids together and expect them to get on. For this reason we’re not keen on arranged meet ups with strangers.
- There is some Skype communication and emailing, but mostly they can’t be bothered.
- They chat to other kids around the world via Minecraft Homeschool and other online and gaming platforms.
- They enjoy hanging out with people of ALL AGES, it doesn’t have to be just kids.
What You Can Do For Your Kids Social Life on The Road
- Go to places kids gather, playgrounds, swimming pools, anywhere.
- Organise meet ups with other travelling families, it’s easy to do if you want to do it, find them online.
- Model social behaviour, talk to people, say hi. Encourage fearless interaction
- Stay in accommodations with shared restaurants, bars etc, places where people chat. Hostels even, but we find hostels expensive.
- Cruise ships, any sort of boat, are a great place to meet other people and be thrown together for days or weeks.
- Avoid countries with a language barrier if you want them to interact with locals.
- If you’re staying a while in one place, sign them up for clubs and courses if they want that, but don’t force them!
- Leave them be. If they want to find other kids to hang with, they will.