Often when people hear the word “homeschool,” there’s a knee-jerk reaction and the inevitable reply, “What about socialization?” There’s even a popular meme in honor of this ongoing question.
Then COVID happened, and children all over the world were participating in distance learning. Many people mistakenly assumed that this isolated quarantine learning was the experience of typical homeschoolers. Sadly, it reinforced the “socialization issue” stereotype.
But in reality, even long-time homeschoolers were suffering from isolation. The term “homeschooling” is somewhat of a misnomer because most homeschoolers are out and about quite often. Because they learn in the real world, they felt the abrupt change during COVID as keenly as brick-and-mortar learners.
Today, we want to break down that stereotype. If you’re curious about what socialization really looks like for homeschool families, or you’re considering trying homeschooling but are afraid your kids won't feel connected, keep reading. This post is for you.
So what does socialization look like for homeschoolers?
Well, for starters, it isn’t the same for everyone. There are endless enriching options. Here are some popular ways homeschoolers enjoy learning and, yes – even socializing – with friends.
Co-op is a term that covers a broad spectrum of organized activity. The name comes from the term “co-operative.” In its purest form, a co-op is a group of parents/caregivers who have come together to organize classes or social activities. They are typically low-cost and run entirely by parents.
Some co-ops are more structured and academic-focused. Others might be play-based, nature-focused, or a mix of multiple approaches. Some homeschooling families belong to several co-ops and spend multiple days each week in this environment.
A co-op we belonged to pre-COVID organized teen dances every other month. Every bit of it resembled all the awkward high school dances I went to (many!) years ago.
Co-ops are perfect for parents who want to outsource teaching certain subjects. Joining a co-op is an easy way for your kids to build community and for you to increase your network of homeschool experts.
Ongoing online and interest-based classes
One of the disadvantages of relying solely on in-person organizations in your area is you only have so many opportunities.
Your local school district probably doesn’t offer an Autism lego club, astrophysics for tweens, or an anime art meetup. Fortunately, Outschool does. You can even learn survival skills from a Marine and thousands of other fun options.
Taking an online learning or enrichment class opens up a new world of possibilities for your kids.
It means you’re not limited by what’s in your wheelhouse, your geography, or even the “standard curriculum.” An interest-based or child-led approach brings fresh joy to education. Plus, your children get to connect with other kids who share their passions.
- A. There are tons of options. You have access to over 140,000 classes and can find the perfect fit for your kids.
- B. It’s affordable. With an average class price of $15 a session, Outschool is a cost-effective way to boost your homeschooling on an ongoing basis.
- C. You can try it or keep it. You can “try on” a subject or experience with a one-time class or sign up for semester classes as an easy way to supplement your homeschool curriculum all year long. You can even do one-on-one tutoring. The semester classes are especially great for building an online community.
Sports and clubs
Like traditional students, homeschooled kids seamlessly participate in recreational sports, scouting groups, chess clubs, and more! These activities provide ample opportunity to make friends and socialize, even beyond the events themselves.
One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is scheduling freedom. Many homeschoolers chose to pair causes close to their heart with lending a helping hand. You’ll regularly find homeschooled kids at soup kitchens, diaper banks, and more.
One of my own homeschooled kids started a club for knitters at our local YMCA, where they make items to donate within our community.
Homeschooled teens have unique opportunities to enter the part-time workforce where they can connect with peers and adults. Plus, their flexibility means they can try all sorts of roles and stay for more than a few summer months. Who wouldn't want to try their hand as a part-time nanny, sunrise barista, or afternoon dog walker?
Homeschooled children experience the world and make friends just like traditionally educated children. However, they have one tremendous advantage – diversity.
Kids in public and private schools spend the vast majority of their time with other kids of the same age and often from the same neighborhood. This homogeneity can create a lack of cultural and socioeconomic diversity.
On the other hand, homeschooled children who participate in a co-op or online learning come from a wide variety of neighborhoods, backgrounds, and more. Additionally, these classes typically span a bigger age bracket. It also allows the younger children to model behaviors they see in older learners. Likewise, older kids have an opportunity to naturally lead and mentor.
When children embark on real-world adventures, they experience a distinct variety of people. Homeschooling provides natural opportunities to connect with others who share similar interests or goals but are beyond their family's daily bubble.
Exposing kids during their formative years to people who believe contrasting things, celebrate different cultures, and practice other religions, is one of the best ways you can educate them. It also makes them much more prepared for successful interpersonal engagements as adults.
As you can see, there are endless social opportunities for homeschooled children. Their socialization might look different than what has become the cultural norm, but in many ways, they have more freedom. So if you’re considering homeschooling, the good news is that your family can be as connected as you want to be.