When choosing to homeschool your child it is not just their education that you are taking into your hands but also their socialization.
Public school kids spend up to seven hours a day, five days a week in the company of others. So how to socialize homeschoolers is a legitimate question.
Homeschool support groups or co-ops are the ideal way to allow your child to socialize with other kids their age. You can search for homeschool co-ops online.
Remember that some homeschool groups may have specific pedagogical or religious beliefs that may not align with yours. For this reason it is worth taking your time choosing a co-op and ensuring you do your research.
Look online to see if there are any national homeschooling organizations in your area. You could also join the National Home School Association or NHSA which provides comprehensive support and information to homeschooling parents.
For homeschooling parents who are part of a church many offer youth groups. These are a great opportunity for socialization as there are often weekly meetings and activities.
Your kids can also take part in Sunday school, bible study or the children’s choir. Many church groups also have summer camps which are a wonderful opportunity for kids to meet like minded people and make new friends.
Some church youth summer camps mix kids with those from other ministries which helps to develop tolerance and acceptance.
Attending weekly services also builds relationships for children with their peers and helps them make friends.
Many volunteer organizations offer opportunities for children and teenagers to socialize. There may be a reading tutor program at your local library.
Alternatively there may be opportunities for kids to offer their help at a senior citizen center or hospital. Socializing doesn’t have to be exclusively with kids their own age, although this is important.
By volunteering with older people they will get a different perspective and learn some new social skills.
An outdoor volunteer organization is a great way to combine socializing, helping the local community and your kids getting some fresh air and exercise.
Participate In Team Sports
While we are on the subject of exercise, participating in team sports is a fantastic way to socialize. Ask your kids what kind of recreational sport they would enjoy and find a local club.
There are so many to choose from, soccer, baseball, basketball, or volleyball. Even individual sports allow children and teenagers to interact with people their own age who have similar interests.
This helps their social skills, teaches team spirit and provides opportunities for making friends. It can also help children develop a healthy competitive outlook that they may not otherwise feel when being homeschooled.
Lead By Example
Kids mostly learn by example when it comes to non-academic skills and this is just as true when it comes to socialization.
If they see you joining a volunteer group or going to church events it will make them more likely to do the same thing.
This can be difficult if you are a shy person by nature, but you will benefit from not just the impact on your own social skills but those of your children.
When kids see positive socialization involving their parents they are encouraged to do the same thing.
Community Arts Projects
If your kids are not particularly sporty there are other activities that they can get involved in that will help them to socialize.
Community arts projects are wonderful for those who are artistic rather than sports oriented. Ask your children if they would like to take part in a community theater production or join a dance group.
Helping your kids flourish in activities that are non-academic is just as important for their development. And obviously they are socializing at the same time.
Simply taking your kids to the park will give them the opportunity to mix with other kids. This is particularly true for younger children, but even older kids can benefit.
Take a soccer ball or a baseball and mitt and encourage them to ask others to play. They may not meet the same kids every time they go but meeting different people gives them the opportunity to expand their socialization skills.
Young kids often find it easier to strike up an interaction with others and this is a good foundation for later in life.
Learning a musical instrument is a wonderful learning experience and one that can stay with kids for the rest of their life. But it also offers the opportunity to socialize.
Homeschoolers can practice at home but for lessons going outside the home helps them with their social skills. They can also join an orchestra or take part in recitals when they have progressed to an appropriate level.
But even the music lessons themselves are a great way to socialize with an adult other than their parents. Learning something outside the home is also a good experience for them.
While a lot of our socialization tips have been for children there are opportunities for teenagers to get out and meet their peers. Helping them find a job is a great opportunity to make friends and to learn some important life skills.
Depending on what is available in your area, this could be in a grocery store, local restaurant or with a youth sports club.
If the job aligns with their interests, then this is even better as they are more likely to stick with it. Most teenagers also enjoy the independence that a wage, even a small one, gives them.
Homeschooled children don’t need to miss out on social interactions, but it can take more work on your part to ensure they get out and meet others.
Of course, encouraging them to go and meet other kids in the neighborhood also works. We hope that you have enjoyed our guide to helping homeschoolers socialize.