Hi Dr. Meeker,
I had a question for you. My oldest daughter is just finishing up 6th grade and has been begging to be homeschooled. We moved to a new school two years ago and she has been struggling to make friends there. She is such a sweet kid; she is truly still a little girl compared to the small group of students at her private school.
I’m at a loss. I don’t want to pull her out of school just because things are hard right now, but at the same time, with her preparing to go to middle school, I know how hard the middle school years can be. It breaks my heart that she is feeling so absolutely lonely at school.
She’s been hiding the loneliness well, but the past few months I’d been noticing sadness in her that is just not normal. Yesterday we had a heart to heart talk and I was able to pull out the issues she’s been having with feeling so out of place and alone.
We’ve been praying and asking God to send her a godly friend with the same values and morals for the past two years, and we will continue doing that, but I wanted to ask your advice and get your wisdom…would it be unwise to homeschool because of the lack of connection to her peers?
We want to use wisdom in this decision and not just make a choice based on emotions.
I don’t often encourage parents to allow their children to make decisions about schooling, but I think your daughter may be right. She probably does need a change and since she’s asking to be homeschooled, this might be a very good option.
Without knowing your daughter, I’ll bet that she’s shy, lacking in confidence and has difficulty connecting with other kids. This isn’t all bad. I encourage you to read the book Quiet. It discusses the needs of introverts and helps us accept that many children simply don’t need a lot of friends.
I know that you feel bad that she is lonely, but – keeping her in school where she feels uncomfortable engaging new friends may be a bit too much for now.
Here’ s what I would do in your shoes:
Plan to homeschool her next year. Give her healthy reasons for your decision; don’t tell her that you’re pulling her out as a means of running from problems. Tell her that you will homeschool her with the condition that she choose a few extracurricular activities to join with other homeschooled children.
She needs socialization but she’ll probably do much better with a smaller group.
Once school gets going, have her invite one friend at a time to your home. Let her get to know one girl at a time on her turf. Then, repeat this with a few other girls.