One of the hot topics in homeschooling is socialization. Homeschooler socialization can happen anywhere. From parks to extracurricular activities, there are several avenues available for your homeschooler to socialize with other kids and teens.
Homeschool Socialization Is a Hot Topic
Homeschooler socialization is a big topic and worry when it comes to homeschooling. However, according to the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers scored above average on emotional, social and psychological development. This is because they complete several activities a week like going to parks, checking out museums, going the beach, having play dates, etc. which offer a plethora of opportunities for them to socialize with other homeschoolers and peers. However, if you're looking for something to give your homeschooler socialization an extra boost or try something unique for your shy child, you could try out these 10 unique socialization avenues.
1. Join the National Home School Association
Homeschool socialization can take many forms and the NHSA is ready to offer multiple. In addition to offering the NHSA social network, which lets homeschoolers connect with one another, it offers national level sponsored talent showcases and local discounts that homeschoolers can use to connect other kids and teens. Members can also join the Student Council for homeschoolers.
2. Volunteer at a Local Facility
Not only your child but your whole family can benefit from the connections that are established as a volunteer. For example, you might choose to have your child volunteer at a local community center or adult living facility. They could also look into volunteer opportunities for petting zoos or the local library to connect with others in their age group. Not only will they be making amazing connections, but they will be having fun too.
3. Join a Community Sports Team or Class
Many local schools will not allow homeschoolers to compete in sports, although some will. However, there are many community sports and rec leagues available, usually through the parks and recreation departments in your local community. You'll usually find basketball, soccer and football. Some homeschool organizations offer sports as well, particularly track and soccer. Think outside of the box and look for sports like cheer, archery, gymnastics, karate, swimming, boxing, skateboarding and even speed skating. If you can't find the program you want, consider starting one of your own.
4. Find Local Classes, Clubs or Associations
Depending on what interests your child, you might look for classes or associations where they can meet like-minded kids and teens. For example, local art, dance and music classes can help your child meet others with similar interests while exploring their passions. Typically, there will be at least one or two parents in the homeschool community in your area who offer various art or music lessons. If not, local community colleges and music stores will often offer group classes for a reduced rate. You might also look at local organizations and clubs like 4H, STEM clubs, robotics, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, rock climbing, chess, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.
5. Look for Children's Programs at Your Local Museum or Zoo
Nature centers, aquariums, zoos and children's museums can have events and programs that children might be able to take part in. This can be fun for the whole family and allow them to explore their passions more fully. In addition to socializing homeschoolers, these are great venues to explore your child's interests and expand their minds.
6. Become a Member of a Community Theatre
Do you have a little acting buff? Harness their skills and give them behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to put on a production. In addition to acting in the play, they can work with others on sound design, lighting and backgrounds. They might also connect with others interested in costuming or makeup art.
7. Go On a Mission
Exploring the world and connecting with others around the globe can be a great way to give your child a global perspective. Not only will they be meeting like-minded individuals, but they will be building their faith through helping others on mission work. You might choose to send them on a local mission with others in their age group or make it a family affair. Organizations like Teen Missions International offer global trips yearly.
8. Send Them to Summer Camp
While some homeschool groups have a specific camp where the children in the group get together, outside summer camps can be a good experience for homeschoolers as well. There are as many types of summer camps as there are different areas of interest. You'll find traditional summer camps, sports-oriented camps, extreme sports camps and music camps. Give your child your budget for summer camp and how far away you are willing to let them travel and let them choose which one they would like to attend. Summer camp is an opportunity to get away from it all, meet new friends and make lasting memories. Some children find that they stay in touch with friends made at camp. This can help teach youth how to maintain a friendship with someone who doesn't live near, which can be a vital skill in life.
9. Join an Online Group
There are groups abound for your kids and teens to connect with kids that are interested in the same things. For example, they might join a homeschooling group on social media like Facebook. They might also become part of an age-appropriate group on online video game communities or join an age appropriate chat group like ChristianChat. The advent of the internet makes homeschooler socialization just a click away.
10. Take Part in Local Run Walks or Community Events
You might have your child join a color run or do a turkey trot. If they are obsessed with wild challenges, they might try a warrior or extreme obstacle course. Community centers also set up local events that are designed to bring the community together and allow individuals to connect. For example, you might take your teen to a weekly teen dance or take kids to a community kids movie night.
Socializing Your Homeschooler
While there are lots of opportunities for homeschoolers to connect with others through coops and neighborhood parks, finding unique ways for them to make new friends is always helpful. Give a few of these activities a try to expand your child's social network.