Finding Social Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Child
One of the main challenges of homeschooling is how to find social opportunities for your homeschooled child to ensure they have the same level of social interaction as children who attend schools. Lack of peer socialization is probably the main criticism leveled at homeschooling by it’s opponents. How can children who do not interact daily with others outside of the family learn the social skills necessary for introduction into an adult world? However, with some creativity and a mind for social activity as well as traditional learning, parents can ensure that their home schooled children learn to survive in a social setting just as well as children who attend traditional schools do.
School is definitely a great place for children to meet other children, but this is not the main function of school. Although children may initially meet in school, their relationships develop in the after school activities, such as play, dates, sports practices, or community groups like Scouts. By involving a homeschooled child in these activities, he or she can make friends in the same way as traditionally schooled children, but at the same time avoid much of the negative social interaction that occurs in the school setting on a daily basis.
One of the best and easiest ways to provide social opportunities is to join a local homeschool group. These groups are very popular and located nationwide in most countries. In addition to providing a support network to homeschooling families, these groups sponsor all types of educational field trips and gatherings.They are also a good way for parents to exchange tips and advice on curriculum.
To find a local group in the US, check the local groups on your state's homeschool page.
Check this site for Australian homeschool support groups -- original link removed, website is no longer available. Click here for the Australian homeschool Facebook support group which is probably the best starting point.
I will be adding a section for finding support groups in other countries,so please check back regularly. Update: This is currently in process, find your local homeschool state support.
Another wonderful way to provide children with the opportunity to socialize is to make use of the extra-curricular activities offered by your local school district. Schools must allow children who learn at home the option to participate in activities such as band, sports and drama. Contact the school district where you live for further information on the specific extra-curricular programs available.
Allowing homeschooled children to do volunteer work in the community is another excellent socialising opportunity. Of course, this is usually not an option for very young children, but, occasionally organizations such as the Humane Society will let younger children volunteer, if accompanied by a parent.
Consult your phone directory or favourite search engine for many additional non profit organizations, which offer volunteer programmes.
If you run your own business, involve your children! This will allow them to socially interact with your customers or clients and give them a head start in the business world, at the same time.
Also, check your local YMCA or your city’s park and recreation department for their class offerings. These classes often include activities like swimming, dance, cooking and crafts of all kinds.
As you can see, there are many social opportunities for children who are homeschooled. If you take the time to do a bit of research, you may be surprised at what you’ll find. The importance of socialising and integration cannot be overlooked if you want your child to be well balanced and comfortable in society.