The fear of social isolation is incredibly real when it comes to homeschooling. Parents often worry if they keep their children at home, will they be prepared to handle the complexities of peer relationships?
As a parent who has been through it, I think the answer can be yes—and with a little effort and creativity on your part! From video chats, to outdoor adventures and projects, with our modern tools and new perspectives on education, it’s easier than ever for your child to foster strong peer relationships.
So read on and get ready to learn every trick and tip on homeschool socialization.
Why is socialization important for a child?
Socialization is a significant part of a child’s development, and without it, they’re kind of like a fish out of water! Through social interaction with family, friends and peers, children learn vital life skills such as cooperation, problem-solving, and communication.
In this sense, using social opportunities to teach little ones how to properly listen, share, and play is invaluable practice which will stay with them forever. Even though it may be difficult for parents to understand why their tiny human needs to engage in seemingly basic activities such as talking and playing games, trust that these small acts are preparing them for life’s many social situations.
In fact, without encouraging peer relationships, children can grow isolated from society! What’s more, research has even shown that socializing is essential for brain development, so in a way, it gives kids superpowers. As such, parents should look carefully to help their kids adequately navigate this social landscape- it’s curtains if those cues don’t get picked up!
6 Social activities for homeschoolers you should try
Homeschooling can be a real hoot. But it’s important to take time away from books and break out the socializing! Here are top 6 activities to learn how to make friends when homeschooled:
1. Join social groups for homeschoolers
Being homeschooled can be lonely, which is why forming social groups with other homeschoolers is essential for peer support and connection.
There are many types of social groups that can benefit not just the kids who are in them, but the parents too! From K-12 grade literature or sports clubs to crafting classes, these social groups are a great way for homeschool kids to get out and meet up with other students who share similar interests and goals. Plus, it gives parents a chance to have conversations with other members of the homeschooling community.
Each group provides homeschoolers with an opportunity to not only learn much-needed academic and social skills, but also make life-long friends who may even go on to create study groups together in the future.
2. Enroll them in extracurricular activities
While homeschooled children may not necessarily have the opportunity to take part in extracurricular activities as easily as children attending traditional schools, enrolling them can do wonders for their social development.
Whether it’s joining a pottery class or learning about robotics, there are plenty of unique and wonderful activities available for kids to explore. Joining an extracurricular program gives homeschooled kids a chance to mingle with peers outside their home environment, build relationships, and gain valuable life skills that can help with the transition into adulthood.
There are many public schools that allow non-students to enroll in their extracurriculars. Just do a little research!
3. Get involved in local activities
Enrolling homeschooled kids in local activities isn’t just a way to keep them busy; it’s also a great opportunity for them to meet other kids their age and develop skills they wouldn’t normally gain from the four walls of home.
Joining community clubs and teams helps them learn all the important socialization skills they won’t get from home lessons. From sports leagues to art classes, local activities foster collaboration and cultivate their creativity while also providing structure and discipline — things every kid needs!
Check your community center for activities and clubs you can take advantage of!
4. Join online groups
If your kiddo is shy, online groups are a great way for them to make friends and learn about different cultures, interests, and points of view without ever leaving their homes!
There are groups that specialize in homeschoolers and others that are open to any kid! These groups are very safe, since parents and children are evaluated before being able to join and offer all kinds of activities for the family.
In fact, in Boo’s Battalion we have our own social group where we meet virtually once a week with an amazing and diverse squad of kiddos to talk, make friends, and have fun!
Volunteering is an important part of growing up, and homeschooled kids should definitely be taking part! Rather than limiting homeschooled students to only learning Math, English and how to grow organic tomatoes in their backyard, volunteering gives them a chance to learn beyond textbooks and really get involved with the community.
It’s also beneficial for homeschoolers’ social-emotional development and can provide real-world experiences for the intellectually curious. Being of service to others can help teach them empathy and compassion, while also showing them the value of having skills that are useful to their community.
6. Organize play dates
For homeschooled kids, organizing play dates is essential for more than just the classic reasons—like teaching kids how to share and work together. Sure, those basic tenets of good behavior come along with play dates, but that’s hardly where it ends!
Play dates are also a great opportunity for homeschooled children to take part in activities outside their normal environment, meet new kids, and develop social skills that become integral as they get older. Play dates can be so much more than sitting around chatting–games and outdoor activities abound, allowing for plenty of opportunities for growth and development.
Homeschooling and socialization: Final thoughts
Homeschool socialization has been a hot topic of conversation ever since homeschooling became more accessible to families. It can be argued that homeschooling either helps foster positive socialization skills or inhibits them altogether.
However, even if you opt for homeschooling, it doesn’t mean you are completely depriving your kid of maintaining healthy relationships with peers; simply choose some creative methods such as joining extracurricular activities, engaging in community sports teams, play dates, and even visiting relatives who live outside your local area.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to determining how a child should be socially exposed. But, the bottom line is that there are thoughtful ways to make sure teaching your kid at home does not interfere with their ability to bond with others. After all, nothing quite trumps the benefits of having a few good friends around!