Often time during the summer parents will take a look at the previous school year and start to formulate thoughts for the upcoming year. Or maybe a move has taken place and schooling is a brand new issue. At any rate, from time to time friends will tell me that they’re seriously considering homeschool, but are still hung up on the “s” word.
One of the first concerns people share with me about homeschooling is their fear that their child or children will grow up to become social misfits. That somehow life will become so small that it will revolve around the 3 r’s and chores…no more friends…no more playing…no more fun. Deep sigh…
While I can understand this fear, new homeschoolers – or those considering it – will be pleased to discover that with some creative thought, there are practical ways to get some sunshine and socialization away from the dining room table. As a first step,
Develop a mindset that seeks learning opportunities beyond books
Although pre-packaged curricula do provide the structure and direction that so many new homeschoolers think they need, the danger lies in becoming enslaved to them. Home indeed becomes a stuffy and oppressive “cave” when we have to “get school done” before life moves on. The activities I describe below are replete with educational benefits, and we have used all of them to homeschool our own.
Interaction with others is important not only within one’s peer group, but inter-generationally.
One of the biggest drawbacks I find in public education is age-segregation. To most non-homeschoolers, socialization means having their kids in a class with others their own age. This form of segregation is obviously an artificial environment when you realize that once out of school, children need to learn how to interact with people of all ages. Therefore, creating a balance is crucial for healthy growth and development. In this post I will offer options that are primarily peer-related activities; in a future one I will describe activities that provide more inter-generational experiences.
- Scouting– This is a terrific learning opportunity. We have used the requirements for many badges and pins as springboards for many subjects. Between troop meetings, camping and the field trips we go on, the kids get quite a bit of fun and educational “kid time”.
- Sports groups– Sports provide both exercise and socialization, along with the all-important development of team-work skills. We’ve participated in teams at the Y, our town’s Recreation Department, and church leagues. Homeschoolers in urban areas often have the advantage of homeschool leagues in certain sports.
- Support group activities– Our local support group has twice-monthly classes (Friday classes) and monthly “extras”, as well as dances, yearbook, Key Club, Student Council, honor societies and other functions for the high-school set. We also arrange periodic field trips and have a group that meets regularly for “park day” – fun for the kids and mom! Lots of socializing going on here!
- Museum classes– Many museums offer short-term classes or group lessons. Our zoo offers a 6-week science class each semester, and the local cultural center has periodic day-long offerings. Check with your local art or history museum to see what they might have planned. This is a great way to meet kids from all over your area.
- Church and religious organizations– Our church has both Sunday and Wednesday night programs for the kids, along with Vacation Bible school and summer camp. An added benefit here is that while the kids are socializing in a supervised and safe environment, mom and dad get to socialize as well. A true win-win! Additionally, as the your kids age, these programs often offer opportunities for teens to work in supervisory positions and develop leadership skills.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to mean the end of an interesting and stimulating social life – start investigating what’s available in your own area.
Use these ideas as a springboard to enlarge your definition of socialization!
Got your creative juices flowing yet? What other ideas will YOU share?
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