Dear American Girl,
I'm home-schooled, but most of my friends go to public school. They are always talking to one another about things that are going on at school, and I don't know what they're talking about. I end up feeling left out. What should I do?
-Nothing to Talk About
Here's your advice:
During my first year of home-schooling, I felt left out when I talked to my old friends. My mom did some research and found a local group of home-schoolers who get together and do fun activities. Ask a parent to help you find a home-schooling group. You might meet some cool people, and you'll have at least one thing in common with them.
-Samantha, age 12, Missouri
I'm home-schooled, too. I have a friend who goes to public school, and when I see her, I ask her how her day was. Then I tell her about my day. Once your friends are finished discussing their days, talk about yours. Everyone should get equal time to talk.
-Autumn, age 10, Ohio
The same thing happened to my friend. I didn't realize that my friends and I were leaving her out of our conversations until she shared her feelings with us. Let your friends know how you feel. If they're true friends, they'll try to include you more in conversations.
-Sarah, age 12, Georgia
If a conversation with your friends turns to school again, see if you can steer the conversation toward a topic everyone enjoys talking about, such as movies, shopping, or pets.
-Caitlyn, age 10, Missouri
Start a club with your friends, such as a book club or one that helps an endangered animal. That way, you'll have something in common with your friends other than school. It also will be a fun way to spend time together.
-Coco, age 12, Colorado
Your friends probably have no idea that you feel left out. When they are discussing school, kindly ask them to explain what they're talking about. It'll help you to understand the conversation, and if you do it often enough, they will probably realize that they are leaving you out.
-Lucienne, age 9, Minnesota
If your friends are talking about school, look for a break in the conversation and jump in with a funny story. Talk about something silly your baby brother did or a hilarious trick your dog learned.
-Shella, age 12, Texas
The next time your pals start talking about school, say, "That's cool, but I have no clue what you're talking about. Do you mind if we talk about something else?" Since they're your friends, they should respect your feelings.
-Olivia, age 11, Florida
If you don't know what your friends are talking about, ask questions. Ask, "What's your favorite subject this year?", "Have you had any hard tests lately?" or "What are you doing in gym?" If you know more about what your friends are doing in school, you might not feel as left out.
-Calley, age 10, North Carolina
I know what that's like. I used to be home-schooled, and most of my friends went to public school. So I decided to have a fun sleepover at my house, and I invited all of my public-school friends. We talked about our lives, and it was a great way to catch up. Plus, it showed them that their friendships were still important to me, even though we didn't go to the same school anymore.
-Trinity, age 12, New Jersey
Ask your friends about their activities outside of school. I try to change the subject and say something such as, "So, how are you doing in your horseback-riding lessons?"
-Katie, age 11, Florida
As a home-schooler, I get to go on lots of field trips. Ask a parent if your friends could come along on one of your field trips, such as visiting a museum. That way, they can be a part of your home-school experience, and you can all have fun together, too.
-Avery, age 9, Washington
I'm a home-schooler, and I have that problem, too. When my friends are talking about school, I always say something such as, "Wow, that's neat!" and then I tell them something that I'm doing in my "school."
-Sarah Grace, age 11, Texas
Start a new conversation with your friends. Talk about one of your hobbies, your latest adventure, or a TV show that made you laugh. It'll get your friends on a new topic, and they'll probably want to hear about what you've been up to.
-Allison, age 10, Virginia
When your friends start talking about school, mention something cool or interesting about home-schooling that might relate to what they're discussing.
-Jillian, age 11, Ohio
As a home-schooler, you might get to do some things that you wouldn't get a chance to do if you went to public school. I'm an ice dancer and I take sewing lessons! My friends love to hear about the things I get to do as a home-schooler. Don't be shy to talk about the unique things you get to do.
-Caroline, age 12, Georgia
If you politely ask your friends to stop leaving you out of conversations and they keep doing it, they may not be true friends. It might be time to take a break from those friendships.
-Julia, age 8, Virginia
I'm home-schooled, too, and I have friends who talk about school a lot. Whenever I start to feel left out, I think about how lucky I am to be home-schooled and spend time with my family. You could tell your friends about the things home-schoolers get to do, such as cuddling your pet while you do math in your pajamas!
-Katherine, age 13, Texas