By Robyn Scott
More and more students are becoming home-schooled these days. This is possible in part to the fact that many states offer excellent home school curriculums that follow state-mandated instruction and can provide students from K through 12 a high quality education. Parents may choose to home school their kids for any number of reasons. They may live in a rural area where getting to school would take an hour one way or their child may not have thrived in a traditional classroom environment. One of the things the majority of parents struggle with is making sure their child gets enough socialization time. Students in a traditional school setting will be talking to their peers, perhaps more than their teacher would like, five days a week from 7:30 to 2:30. Their home-schooler counterparts will likely not have the same opportunities. Regardless, there are some ways that home-schooled children can have a great social experience.
1.Join structured activities sponsored by the home school curriculum
Most state approved home school curricula offer several structured activities sponsored by the curriculum its self. Parents and students can choose from any number of activities within their geographical area including museum trips, visits to the park, impromptu sports activities, and arts and crafts. Many of these activities are available several days a week and can give a home school student a chance to socialize with their peers on a regular basis.
2.Join an after school sports league
Students who participate in an after school sports league will learn valuable social skills such as the ability to share, follow directions, work as a team, lose and win gracefully, and problem solve. This is also a good opportunity for students to get out of the house and get some sunshine and exercise. There are many after school sports leagues that are not necessarily directly affiliated with a public school that any student living in the area is able to join.
3.Volunteer within the community
Volunteering within the community is also a great way for home-schooled students to interact with their peers as well as people of all ages. Some community activities are aimed specifically at student volunteers while others are good for the whole family. In addition to allowing a child the chance to socialize, community volunteering helps teach empathy, kindness, and cooperation.
4.Attend the local public school for lunch and recess
Some public schools will allow local home-schooled students to attend campus for part of the day. For example, a student may attend school to eat lunch and have recess with their peers and perhaps stay for art or music class. Then they return home to finish their academic studies. Although this won’t work as well for students who live in remote areas, it can offer urban and suburban students the chance to experience part of the public school environment while still maintaining their home school curriculum. Because the majority of socializing occurs during lunch and recess, this is a great happy medium for many of today’s home-schooled kids.
5.Take art or music
After school art and music classes provide a good social space for home-schooled students. Some of these activities may be sponsored by the home school curriculum or parents may be able to find the programs privately. Students who participate in the social activities will have a chance to learn to socialize politely in a structured environment. For instance, most after school art and music programs allow students to chat quietly while everybody is getting settled and then transition to following the directions of the class. Students are often allowed to socialize during breaks or during cleanup time as well. Structured socialization helps prepare young kids for adulthood and may make attending public school easier should they ever transition back to a traditional classroom environment.
Robyn Scott is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC in Irvine, CA. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.