Many homeschool families hear chatter online or in their social circles bemoaning the supposed “fact” that homeschool socialization is a problem. But let’s dive into the topic of social skills, whether or not you should be concerned about it, and fun ways to keep your kids socialized while you homeschool.
Does homeschooling affect socialization?
How homeschooling affects socialization is a common question. While the socialization argument can cause parents to doubt the benefits of homeschooling, you shouldn’t let perceived social disadvantages keep you from homeschooling.
So, to bluntly answer the question, yes, homeschooling absolutely does affect socialization. But let’s define our terms here. Definitions do matter.
Webster defines socialization as “the ability to mix with others” and we know that this begins long before school age. From the moment our children are born, we are teaching them what it means to interact with society in the proper way. And then the question becomes what kind of socialization do you want your children engaging in? Do you want to be the primary influence of your child’s socialization, or do you trust the school system to properly socialize them?
We know the answer to that question.
The other aspect of “socialization” is teaching your child to navigate the social norms of society. But do you want your children to conform to the patterns of the culture? The peer pressure in the school setting will socialize your children into conformity to the world’s system. Home education gives you the privilege of socializing your children in a God-honoring environment.
How do homeschoolers socialize?
Homeschoolers socialize in so many ways, it’s almost impossible to list most of them. But maybe the better question would be with whom do homeschoolers socialize? Instead of spending an entire education for thirteen years socializing with immature peers, homeschoolers can learn, grow, talk to, experience life with people of all ages and across all generations.
Socialization happens naturally, in the real world and real social situations. Socialization can happen with peers, but it doesn’t have to be limited to a classroom of kids your own age.
Studies show that homeschoolers participate in an average of five extra-curricular activities at a time. Plus, homeschool graduates tend to be more involved in their community as adults than their public school peers.
Are homeschool kids well socialized?
Homeschooled kids are usually far better socialized than their public school peers because they get to participate in the real world with adults and children of all ages, not segregated into classrooms filled with kids their own age from K-12.
Young children and teens in a traditional school will only have social interaction throughout the day with their same-aged peers. But the outside world looks nothing like the school system! Adults have social opportunities with people of all ages, and so when we homeschool our kids and give them opportunities for social interaction among various age groups, they do end up being well socialized.
Are homeschooled children less socialized?
Homeschool children are not necessarily less socialized that public school children. Overall, kids that are homeschooled have more opportunities throughout their day to mix with children of all ages. But some of the socialization does come down to your child’s individual personality. A shy child that is homeschooled and a shy child who is in public school will likely both be more timid and reluctant to socialize in a group setting.
But if you’re concerned about giving your homeschooled kids ample opportunities to mix with kids of all ages, check out our list of fun ideas below for homeschool socialization.
Let’s explore some of the ways you can keep your kids socialized! From homeschool support groups, co-ops, and extracurricular activities to local classes and clubs, you are sure to find some great ideas your kids will love.
Fun Ways to Keep Homeschooled Kids Socialized
There are so many ways to keep your kids socialized and have fun while doing it.
Homeschool Support Groups
A homeschool group is a treasure if you have one nearby. Not only will you be able to participate in learning activities, classes, and field trips, but there will be plenty of social activities too. Even if you have years of homeschooling behind you, your kids will benefit from the social aspect of a homeschool support group.
Homeschool co-ops offer field trips and group activities, usually for kids of all ages. So a co-op is a great way to make good friends with similar interests. It’s important to find other homeschool families in your community so you don’t have to homeschool on your own!
Some school districts do allow homeschool students to participate on sports teams and with athletics and after-school clubs and organizations. Check the homeschool laws of your state and local district to see what is available for your kids.
Enroll Students in Local Classes
Homeschooling parents find that they can participate in some local classes during the school day. Not every activity needs to be at dinner time! Here are some great ways to help your kids learn a new skill while meeting people of all ages in the community.
Is your child interested in learning martial arts? You will find a wealth of mentorship and skill-building in a local martial arts class. The best way to find new classes is by word of mouth in your community. Ask in your homeschool co-op. Where do your homeschool friends take their kids for martial arts classes?
Dance classes can be a way to meet new friends, learn a new skill, and also check off the box for homeschool physical education! We can be creative with how we fulfill requirements. Many states will allow you to use a variety of physical activities as a physical education component to your homeschool. If your child is interested in dance classes, go ahead and indulge that passion with a class in your local community.
Gymnastics is another great way to stay physically active while homeschooling! Some kids will go on to compete in this field, while others want to just take gymnastics lessons as a fun outlet while homeschooling.
Music and Voice
Don’t neglect private music lessons in an instrument or voice! Many homeschooling families enjoy taking advantage of music classes and lessons during the school day. Some teachers will even come to your home or teach you online at your own pace. Ask other homeschool parents for a great local music teacher recommendation.
Checkout Local Clubs
Homeschool children can learn and practice vital socialization skills by participating in local clubs. Here are some ideas to consider.
Your local YMCA might have homeschool gym classes during the day for kids of all ages. Or join some interesting classes to participate with large groups and meet new people.
4-H is a youth development and mentoring organization that helps kids learn life skills. Kids involved in 4-H participate in hands-on projects in areas of agriculture, civic engagement, and science. The “learn by doing” philosophy of 4-H also includes adult mentors for your children.
Many U.S. high schools offer JROTC, or Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, during the high school years. This program allows your teens to earn college credit and trains them for future service in the military.
American Heritage Girls
Girls ages 5 to 18 can participate in American Heritage Girls, which is a Christian scouting organization in the United States. They focus on the character qualities in their creed:
As an American Heritage Girl, I promise to be compassionate, helpful, honest, loyal, perseverant, pure, resourceful, respectful, responsible, and reverent.
Trail Life USA
Trail Life USA is a Christian outdoor adventure program for boys in the United States. It gives your sons a great opportunity to have various mentors and best friends wrapped into a scouting experience that is faith-based. They’ll also be able to learn real life skills through this program.
Being plugged in with a local church community is vital. You’ll be able to get to know families and children who share similar worldview and goals with your family. Here are some church activities to get involved in for additional homeschool socialization.
Look for a church near you that offers an AWANA club program. This weekly program is heavy on Bible memorization, but also includes plenty of fun time, games, and socialization opportunities for your kids!
Your older children and teens will benefit greatly from participation in a local church youth group. Not only will they study the Bible together, but they will be able to have good role models and mentors. In addition, some church youth groups participate in social activities or volunteer work, which is great for teens to help them look beyond their needs and help other people.
Homeschool Mom Socialization
Let’s not forget that homeschool moms need socialization too! It’s important to find ways to meet with other moms and recharge your batteries during the school year. Whether that’s going out for coffee with a close friend, participating in a mom book club, or finding a local Bible study, you will benefit greatly from the relationships.
Homeschool socialization is important, but the most important aspect is the right kind of socialization! Homeschooling doesn’t have to put your kids at a disadvantage in social situations. In fact, it can help them grow and mature far beyond what your own experiences were at that age.
It’s a beautiful thing to be confident and compassionate and to know that you’re not going to conform to societal norms. We can give this to our kids through the right kind of socialization.
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