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I remember walking into the room and seeing eyes on me. I felt like an outsider. How did I fit in with these people? Who were they? And how in the world was I going to make friends?
Homeschool cliques, I would like to say that somewhere there is a group where this doesn’t exist, but unless you have a very small homeschool group, I don’t think there is. Today we are going to take a look at why homeschool cliques happen, how to break them up and what you can do when it is YOU who feels like an outsider.
Why This Happens
Clique is defined by Merriam-Webster as
“a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially : one held together by common interests, views, or purposes.”
As women we naturally gravitate towards other women who have likeminded interests. This in turn forms a clique. This does NOT mean we are bad people, it just means we know what we like, and who we like when it comes towards friendships.
The problem takes place when we let this cliqueyness (I am sure that’s not a word, but oh well) turn into stereotyping. It’s a problem when we let it interfere with friendships that could be a great thing, if we would have only opened our eyes to and our hearts to other moms. It becomes a problem when we take that word “exclusive” and put it into action by intentionally leaving others out.
What I have seen in homeschool groups is not always intentional. It is a natural gravitation towards other moms with the same interests. Oftentimes we don’t even realize we are doing it.
So, what do you do if it is YOU who feels like an outsider? You are walking into a group of homeschoolers and have NO clue who anyone is? There are groups of women everywhere talking, but none of them are talking to you…. Don’t be alarmed! You can break through these cliques! Here are some tips to get you started!
- Remember that chances are it is NOT intentional! Many of these women have probably known each other for years. They are catching up, enjoying company, and probably don’t even notice that you are alone. Give them a chance! They may not be meaning to be cliquey 😉
- Find someone else who is alone! Chances are if you look around you will see someone else with a deer in a headlight look. Or…they may be looking at their phone, reading a book, or pretending to be doing something so they don’t “look” like they are a deer in the headlights. Talk to THAT person! You may find your homeschool BFF 😉
- Find the leader or person in “charge”! At any of the homeschool events I have hosted I have always done my BEST to make sure that any newbies are welcome. Chances are the leader of the event you are at wants to do the same. Introduce yourself to her; ask her to introduce you to some other moms. She may not realize you know no one else there and will probably love to show you around the group.
- Give a group a second or third chance! If you attend a homeschool group once and don’t meet anyone don’t leave and never come back. Give the group a second or third chance. In the years I have homeschooled I am sure at some point or another someone has left our group feeling like they were an outsider. As I shared above moms get busy, they may not even realize what is going on. The next event may be more laid back, so never give up after one event.
How to Stop It
If you find yourself nodding your head at the above you may have noticed homeschool cliques going on in your group. If you want to stop the homeschool cliques it has to start with YOU. How does this happen? Here are a few things I have noticed through the years.
- Introduce yourself! If you see a new mom at a homeschool group, welcome her! If you have EVER been the outsider you know what it is like to walk into a room and know no one. Remember that feeling, and don’t let it happen to someone else!
- Invite a newbie to a get together! One of the best ways I have found to get to know other homeschoolers is to invite them to a park, or into my home to discuss homeschooling. New homeschoolers are SO overwhelmed (you remember what that was like right?) and they tend to have TONS of questions. Getting them away from a group and truly welcoming them into your home or giving them a minute of your time is a great way to make them feel like they belong.
- Be open! Yes, not everyone is going to have the same homeschool philosophy as you. Not everyone is going to have the same religion or believe the same as you do. This does not mean you have to black list them. As more and more people begin homeschooling it is only natural that there will be homeschoolers different than us. Welcome these families into your group. *Our homeschool group is Christian based, but we have never turned away a secular homeschooling family. As long as they respect the boundaries of the group and understand we are Christian based, they are welcome at any event we have.*
Moms, homeschool cliques are going to happen. The key to breaking up these homeschool cliques is to be aware of the other moms around you. Be open to friendships with moms who may be a little different than you. Invite another mom over just to get to know her. If you always go to the park with the same group of friends, invite someone else to join you next time. If you are at an event and realize you haven’t got to know the mom who joined earlier this year, take some time to talk to her. Don’t allow yourself to get so comfortable in your own “circle” or “clique” of friends that you miss the chance for friendship with someone else.
Have you experienced a homeschool clique? How did you break through?
This is part 3 in a new series all about homeschool moms and friendship! Check out the other posts here.