As homeschoolers, the concept of socialization comes up often. I know I have been asked countless times about how my kids could ever possibly make friends and even interact out in the “normal world” if we kept them home. For most of us this is, well, just a bunch of hooey! The most social and emotionally balanced kids I know are the homeschoolers we have in our community.
This blog post isn’t supposed to be going into all that. There are tons of other posts on this subject and, while it is a valid topic that should be discussed, I really want to give you all a tip on how to help your kids, and even yourself, handle social situations with ease―even the introverts!
My middle daughter was born with the travel bug. She wanted to see the world from a very young age. At 7, Pompeii was her travel dream of choice and it was at the top of a very long list. At 11, she received her first invitation to participate in the People to People program. She was sure it was destiny and needless to say, 9 months and some serious fundraising later, she embarked on a plane to Australia for a two-and-a-half-week trip. Yep, she was 11 years old boarding that plane with her teddy bear sticking out of her backpack without even a glance back. Over those 2+ weeks we received one, yes just one, brief phone message from her. She was born to travel it seems!
This group she traveled with consisted of 40 kids and 4 teachers/guides, as well as the guides added at the other end. Before the trip, we had monthly meetings so she had multiple opportunities to meet the other kids before they left. It was interesting though. Of all of the kids on the trip, she was the most engaging and friendly. Yes, the one homeschooler. Not really a surprise…
Here is the mindset tip that made all of this relatively easy for her. Someone before the trip had a short conversation with her about how the feelings she was having of shyness, fear, nervousness, etc. were also the feelings of most of the other kids in her group. When she walked into those meetings, or the airport, or any of those potentially uneasy situations, she should look at it as an opportunity to be the hostess. If she spent her time walking around the room meeting and greeting and making sure everyone was OK, she wouldn’t have time to be nervous. And that is exactly what she did. More than that, because she applied that one tip, she quickly became friends with everyone! By the time they boarded the airplane, she was the one kid everyone felt comfortable talking to.
Not only did this tip make that trip great, it has developed into a skill that has been incredibly useful in many areas of her life. Anytime she was being introduced into a new group of kids, other travel experiences, her first job, etc. applying this simple skill became a standard go-to tool for her and it has changed her life.
Next time your kids are going out into a new group of people, remind them that the others there are equally as nervous and they have the opportunity to become an unofficial assistant host or hostess. It might just be the perfect way to help everyone relax and become friends!