Once you've made the decision to homeschool, it won't be long before someone asks you what you plan to do about social interaction. The social disadvantages of homeschooling are sure to be the topic of critical conversations.
Are Schools Necessary for Social Interaction?
It's true that kids learn a lot from their peers, and there are plenty of same age peers available in a classroom. The question is, do classrooms provide the best social interaction for kids? Not necessarily. Kids in public schools are surrounded by behaviors, both good and bad. Parents have no control of what influences a child in the classroom setting. It's a myth that homeschooled kids sit alone in a house all day doing worksheets. Homeschooled children interact with lots of people of different age groups. The following are ways homeschooling families can provide social interaction in a positive way.
Join a Co-op
Join a homeschool co-op in your area. Homeschool co-ops are a great way to address a lack of social interaction. Other homeschooled kids and their parents come together on regular basis and socialize. There may be classes taught by parents, projects, and field trips for kids to do together. Social interaction is one of the main goals of a co-op. You'll also get to know other like-minded parents. It's a great place for parent and child support.
There are plenty of opportunities to help others and get to know different people. Take your child to a local nursing home. Your child will get the opportunity to talk to some very interesting people who will be happy to talk to them. Your child can build lasting friendships with people in nursing homes. Take your child with you to volunteer at a food pantry or church ministry. Helping your child make a difference in other people's lives teaches them lessons they could never learn in a classroom.
Neighborhood Play Dates
If your child needs some scheduled playtime with kids his own age, why not plan a play date? Just invite one or more other kids and have several fun things planned. Make sure the activities you plan encourage socialization. Watching a movie is probably not the best way to provide social interaction. Instead, pull out board games or pretend play activities. Anything that requires talking is great. You might like to have a snack ready to follow the activity.
Many homeschooling families travel. When your family is traveling, be sure to make the most of the occasion. Visit places where people congregate, and encourage social interaction with others. Kids are sure to meet other kids at a water park or the beach. Nearly anywhere you go can be a place for children to meet and socialize. Lunch at Chuck E. Cheese could be a great place for your child to meet new kids his age whether you're out of town, or just out for the day.
Your child doesn't have to attend school to enjoy plenty of enrichment activities. Sports teams like football, soccer, or volleyball are great ways for a homeschooled child to socialize, and build lasting friendships. Gymnastics, dancing, or theater activities are also great for socialization. Kids who participate in sports are not only in better health, but make friends more easily in many cases.
Homeschooled kids have many opportunities for meaningful social interactions with people of all ages. Just because a child doesn't learn in a classroom, doesn't mean his or her social skills will suffer.