How Do Homeschoolers Socialize?
Sound familiar? This is usually the first thing people say when you tell them your children are homeschooled, do homeschoolers socialize? All of a sudden they are worrying whether you child’s social skills are affected by homeschooling. They are not the least bit impressed that your child is a year ahead a grade due to less distractions. Well, let me continue.
Homeschooled children often have more opportunities to get involved in situations and meet people throughout educational activities, in comparison to a group of 15 – 20 students confined to a room in their grade level. With ongoing interaction with adults, peers and children both younger and older, a homeschooled child will gain experiences with relationships, bonding and growing in overall respect. One thing I have noticed on a personal note, my children have learned to interact with adults – which I believe is lost in the school setting.
Now don’t get me wrong it does take a great deal of parental involvement and motivation to keep your children’s interests at the fore front of your day. To ensure that a homeschool child receives important socialization, parents must commit to give the child these opportunities through the activities and the curriculum offered. If your child does not interact in any learning opportunities outside the home, or is confined to only interaction with the immediate family, then yes, they may have difficulty gaining important social skills. The National Home Education Research Institute (yes there is actually a research institute about this) states that “effective homeschool socialization generally comes from the immediate family environment, field trips, support groups, classes, church, neighborhood, organized sports”.
Are My Peers Watching Me
Sometimes people get the idea that our children are sitting around saying woe is me I can’t go to school. Well in fact the truth is quite the opposite. In my personal experience, once my kids realized that they would have to get up at the crack of dawn and not get home until 3:00 or 4:00 – well, that’s a no brainer don’t you think. All kidding aside, I have heard first hand from children I deal with at church and the ball fields, wow it must be cool to be homeschooled. I think we need to talk to our kids about being leaders because we know most groups have their leaders and followers. Even the Bible talks about being followers – it just depends on who your following.
Proverbs 21:21, “He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. The follower has his own gift just as much as the leader, and should feel honored as long as the leader is not exerting power over him. Maybe we can help our kids try to recognize how they feel when someone is putting too much pressure on them. If they recognize that uncomfortable feeling, then they can back away and be confident with the decision they made. And in turn, we can help them to recognize how they feel when they are the leader or the one with the “power”. Also, having your children join in on extra curricular activities will automatically make them feel welcomed and part of the gang.
Group Activities For All Ages
I think the most important thing is to keep our children busy – whether it be reading, card games or playing outside. Below I have shown just a couple of things for each age group. The teens really enjoy paintball, you can get your homeschool group or church youth group together and make your own paint ball fields. Get those hay bails out, and refrigerator boxes and your on your way. Next is a bean bag game for those toddlers. Nothing is better than a bean bag and you can’t be the quality of Melissa and Doug products. Last but not least for those middle-schoolers – dodge balls. Who doesn’t like throwing a ball at someone else (ok, disclaimer here, parental guidance required).
Some Ideas To Get You Out And About
- Join the scouts or 4-H. One thing I did when my kids were younger was join a 4-H group. Yes, we had the animals to show for it – bunnies were a favorite. Many communities offer homeschool 4-H groups, and a few areas contain scouting groups whose members primarily homeschool. (If you join a homeschool group, it generally meets when you’re available during the day, instead of using evening or weekend hours.) Ask around.
- Volunteer for a local nonprofit organization. There are always very good organizations out there that need a helping hand. The animal shelter, library and local food bank are just a few. Teach your children to be able to give of their time and not only their money. This can be a very important activity in the growth and maturity of your children.
- Play ball, swimming, or horse back riding. Depending on what your child would enjoy, sometimes it is better to widen their horizons, give them an opportunity to try something they’ve never done before. Your local recreation centers usually provide some kind of spring or summer classes they can join as well. My daughter started horse back riding lessons when she was 7 years old and continued it on until her adult life. This a great way to meet other homeschoolers, most likely you can get in these classes earlier in the day because regular students are in school. Just some more perks.
- Meet a playgroup at the park. The parks are a great place to get together for all ages. We often went to the park, each family had different age groups, but this didn’t matter. We packed a lunch and off we went. My older kids loved to play basketball, while the younger were fine with the playground. This can be a relaxing time for moms especially, just sit, relax and chat. We also had an art-in-the-park day which the kids really enjoyed.
- Play in the homeschool orchestra. Some areas even have homeschool orchestras. I know by us they have a Christian Community Orchestra that is made up of mostly homeschoolers. This a another great time for learning and meeting new friends with the same interests.
Join or create a field trip group. Field trips are always a favorite with most kids. You can do just about anything these days with a homeschool group. Most places will give discounts and are very appreciative of our business. We went to the zoo (discounted prices) and also, believe it or not, we toured our local supermarket. At the end of the tour, they provided us with, sandwich meat, rolls, fruit platter, cheese & crackers. This was a surprisingly fun day – much to the surprise of the skeptics in the group. The kids got to run the register, thought they were hot stuff for a day.
If you find yourself driving from point A to point B with craziness in your car, now would be the time to pop in one of those audio books or foreign language CD’s. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You will be surprised how much you and your children take in just listening. We listened to the Diary of Anne Frank this way, my daughter could tell me all about it when we were done (after a week or two).