The dreaded “S” word. When you tell someone you homeschool your kids, often the first question is, “But how do they get socialization?” I know we had family and friends ask this when we first started our homeschooling journey. How can you have homeschool socialization?
Socialization is one of the most common fears of any family contemplating homeschooling their child. Homeschooling can seem like it’s isolating your child, but it really doesn’t have to end up like that.
Children can still develop their socialization skills in many other ways if they don’t go to public or private schools. Kids tend to learn their best socialization skills from activities they do with their own families, not from following the in-crowd at school. It is crucial that they be able to interact with children and adults of all ages.
An excellent place to start is to plan activities that the whole family can do together. Field trips to sightseeing areas or just spending time at the local parks can allow them to interact with other kids for brief periods of time while you monitor their activities.
Local homeschooling groups are another great choice. Many cities and counties now have homeschool groups that you can join. They offer support for parents as well as get-togethers for kids. A lot also have co-ops (cooperative learning groups) that provide weekly or monthly classes.
Kids can also develop their peer-to-peer social skills by mingling with other kids that live in your neighborhood. They can grow friendships with other kids even if they’re homeschooled, and their peers are not.
Socialization doesn’t just occur within the walls of a traditional school. Allow your child to join local groups for kids around their age. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are favorite groups for children to join and develop lifelong friendships. They learn new things and do activities together as a group.
Some churches have youth groups children can join as well. Or, your child could participate in little league baseball, take swimming or karate lessons, or participate in some sort of homeschool sports team.
Teach your children to answer questions about homeschooling to other people they meet happily. Sometimes other kids can be so inquisitive that they want to ask many questions, and this helps break the ice for both of them – allowing a healthy friendship to develop.
You need to focus on enhancing your children’s socialization skills, but never force them to find friends. The only way this can successfully happen is if it occurs naturally. The more forced it is, the more likely your child won’t be able to make close bonds with his or her peers.
To help develop your child’s socialization skills, just make sure they’re able to interact with kids their age from time to time. Even being around grown-ups can help foster a positive attitude and social skill that far exceeds that of kids their own age.