These teens prove there's a safe way to make friends online

For Parents Feb 28, 2020
Ella and Makenzie, two friends who were first connected by an Outschool teacher, enjoy a fun day at the beach in Delaware.

It all started when Outschool teacher Kristen Elizabeth noticed two students, homeschoolers who were having trouble making friends, with common interests.

The two of them had everything in common--except they weren’t in the same class.

So, Kristen asked each of their parents for permission and shared their contact information.

They quickly became best friends, and this summer, they met up in person! Here’s how it all happened.

With Outschool, families found a fun, convenient way to learn

Makenzie’s mom, Kim King, shared her story of discovering Outschool:

“My husband came across Outschool with an internet search for new options for schooling for our daughter,” Kim said.

The first class Mackenzie took was a Harry Potter class with Kristen. Makenzie was reluctant to try new things in the past. However, the Harry Potter class was a hit and she thought Kristen “was the best teacher she’s ever encountered. I was nervous to try [Outschool] at first, but it ended up being an amazing experience,” Makenzie added.

Ella’s mom Monica was initially drawn to Outschool because of how easy it is to find classes that suit learners’ interests.

“It is nice to say, let’s learn x or y and look for a specific class to meet the need,” Monica said.

Ella tells the story of trying Outschool in a straightforward way, remembering, “Mom made me do an Outschool class and I liked it, a lot!”

A dedicated teacher sparks a deep friendship between learners

From Kim’s perspective, the story of Ella and Makenzie’s friendship comes back to the relationships that learners and teachers build on Outschool.

Kristen taught both Makenzie and Ella, realized they’d get along, and reached out to the Moms for permission to connect them. Kristen shared an email where Mackenzie could send a note to Ella. From then on, a friendship began to forge.

Mackenzie and Ella began to email, then text, then call, and now FaceTime most every day.  According to Makenzie’s mom, Kim, “the conversations became almost part of the school day, fulfilling that needed classmate interaction of the day.”

Makenzie remembers the initial connection in clear and simple terms: “Ms. Kristen, who I took a lot of classes with, had Ella in her class. She thought we’d get along. Long story short - we did  - and now we’re best friends.”

The girls meet in real life - joy ensues

After making the flight from Texas, Ella and Monica are greeted with a "cool" welcome on the refrigerator.

The girls kept talking about wishing they lived closer to each other and started to talk about visiting one another. Their moms, Kim and Monica, started to plan how they could make this happen for the girls. They decided for Ella and Monica to fly out to Delaware from Texas for a few days.

When Kim describes the moment that Ella and Monica arrived at Kim and Makenzie’s house, she says, “it was like two friends or family who had been away for a year and they were being reunited.”

Ella remembers that the girls “basically body-slammed into each other and just hugged” and Makenzie recalls that: “The first time we saw each other we ran for a huge hug that lasted like a minute. I’ve never smiled so much.”

The girls spent time swimming, playing the game Just Dance, and taking a trip to the beach and boardwalk.

Outschool is a safe way for kids to make friends online

It’s interesting to note that Ella and Makenzie’s friendship might not have been possible before tools like Outschool. While it’s important for families to practice Internet safety, both families agree that Outschool makes it easy and safe to build friendships.

Kim remembers that she had to explain to some friends and family how they knew the visitors that were flying in to visit. “I came to explain it a few ways,” Kim said, “like a long term old school pen pal or a foreign exchange program student who comes to visit without meeting before.

The parents also note that the chance for young learners to form friendships after being connected through trusted teachers makes it a great, safe opportunity for their kids.

Gerard Dawson

Gerard Dawson teaches English full-time at a public high school in New Jersey. He also writes about teaching, learning and technology for education startups.

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