What to Do When Your Friends Stop Homeschooling

When I first considered homeschooling when my oldest son was very young, I reached out to our local Catholic homeschool community and was promptly ignored. I had been praying and praying about what to do about his education, whether to homeschool or not, and it felt like that was my answer. I didn’t want to homeschool without a community. I knew my children needed friends.

Friends are Important

While socialization is not the purpose of school, we all need friends in life, and the ones we had connected with in my children’s young years were all going to the local Catholic school, and so he went to kindergarten there. It was a disaster. He’s 23 now. He still will explain to you at length the horrors of his kindergarten year. But I had heard good things about the first-grade teacher and so we attempted a second year while my second son attended pre-school three days a week. In March of that year, my oldest son’s teacher wrote me a letter and said there was no way he would survive second grade. It was God hitting me with a hammer, letting me know I was supposed to be homeschooling.

By this time, however, I did have a friend who was homeschooling. She introduced me to the rest of the community, and the rest, as they say, is history. My son’s kindergarten trauma aside, I was glad I sent them to school for a little while because no matter how bad my homeschooling days were, I never wondered if sending them to school would be better. My oldest was diagnosed with autism when he was nine which explained a whole lot about his difficulty at school. My second son is 2E – gifted in math and reading but has dysgraphia. School wouldn’t have been a good fit for him either. We had a wonderful homeschool community and my sons had a whole group of boys that they group up with.

Being Left Behind Hurts

However, when my sons were high school age, all of their homeschool friends went off to high school, and we were left alone homeschooling, and it was hard. It is difficult to be the one seemingly left behind. (For the record, I gave my children the option of attending high school; they chose not to. My second son attended a hybrid school for a couple of years and then chose to do dual enrollment at a community college.) It was hard for me as a parent when their friends had all the trappings of high school graduation, and we had small ceremonies at home, although, to be fair, my second son graduated in 2020, and nobody had graduations that year!  When he graduated from our state university in 2023, I was there with bells on. I wanted to experience at least one graduation!

Now, I’m facing that same situation with my daughter. She’s going into eighth grade this year, and due to life circumstances, her best friend is headed to school in September. So is another one of her friends. My daughter has a very outgoing personality and lots of friends, both homeschooled and not. I know she won’t be lonely. But it is once again hard to be the one left behind. I know her relationship with her best friend will change. They’ve been friends their whole lives, so that is hard. Also, it is easy to second-guess my choice to homeschool. Will her friends have better opportunities? Will they learn more? Why can’t I just be “normal” and send my kids to school?

I pray every day about my daughter’s education. She doesn’t know what to do about high school. Neither do I. My gut tells me it wouldn’t be a great experience for my dyslexic, ADHD-having daughter (we don’t do neurotypical in our house), but if she wants to try, we will. We have a year for God to provide an answer. For this year, we are continuing to homeschool. We have a homeschool co-op that meets once a week and has a few other teen girls. I wish there were more. I’m the old homeschool mom now and I don’t quite fit in either. I’m almost old enough to be the mom of some of the younger moms. I’m naturally very introverted as well, so it is hard for me to make friends. At this point, my life is rather lonely.

What to Do When Your Homeschool Friends Leave

So, what do you do if your homeschool friends leave for whatever reason and you are unsure of whether to continue homeschooling?

Turn to God

Keep praying to make the right decision! Trust in God to lead you and your children to the right educational opportunities. Homeschooling can look different from year to year. There are co-ops and hybrid schools and sometimes traditional school is the right choice for a season. If God is truly calling you to continue homeschooling, then continue doing that. It may be hard, but it is worth it if it is what God wants you to do.

Remember Your Why

When times are hard, I find it helpful to remember why I am homeschooling. There was a reason you started on this path. What was it? What gifts has homeschooling given you and your children? Make an actual list and post it where you can see it.

Acknowledge the Grief

It’s okay to mourn the loss of friendships. It may be part of life, but that doesn’t make it easy. Support your children as they navigate this transition. Give yourself some grace as well. My sons survived their friends leaving them. They made new friends in other places. They still talk to one of their old homeschool friends, but they still acknowledge that the year when their close-knit group broke apart was hard.

Find Other Social Outlets

Your kids do need friends. So do you. Find other communities to tap into, whether they be church-related, sports teams, library groups, theater programs, dance classes, etc. While online communities are not the same as real-life friends, they can certainly help, especially for moms.

Change can be hard, but it can also bring new opportunities. Keep praying and take one day at a time. God will lead you and your children where you are supposed to be.

Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her seventeenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com