Invariably, the first question asked of every parent announcing they are planning to homeschool their children is, "What about socialization?" Well meaning relatives, friends and skeptic strangers express the very concern most think of when considering an education based at home. How will home educated children develop meaningful relationships outside of their family?
Although sometimes taking a bit of thought and planning, the socialization question is the easiest one to solve. With a little creativity, organization and effort homeschooled children can have the best of both worlds; meaningful school-age friendships and highly personalized education. Below are some tried and true ideas to bring homeschooled kids together.
1) Book Clubs: Choose an age group then choose a book. Send out an email inviting like-minded homeschooling families to participate, clean your house and open the door. A pre-schoolers book and craft club with mom/dad attending or a high school English literature club will benefit attendees in equally meaningful ways.
2) Foreign Language Club: Find another family or two studying the language your children are and set up some meetings. At a homeschool French club students aged 10 and older made crepes, practiced conversation and researched culture and customs. C'est magnifique!
3) Drama Club: Nothing is more fun than putting on a show! Helpful resource books can direct even the non-theatrical minded homeschool teacher on how to get started. Tapping into kids' natural sense of creativity is all that is needed. An extensive library of resource books, scripts and educational materials relating to the theater arts can be found at www.pioneerdrama.com.
4) Soccer/Volleyball/Baseball: If your city league doesn't offer enough choices for sports organize a few families together and meet weekly to play team sports. Get t-shirts printed to create a sense of team spirit and organize an Olympic night for tournament style play and awards.
5) Volunteers: Call a nursing home and see if they could use a group of homeschoolers to entertain, craft or read to residents. Organize a few homeschooling families and meet to decide what your group will provide. Many children take private music lessons and never share their talent with others. Sharing within a nursing home venue benefits residents and performers in a multitude of ways.
6) History Nights: Choosing a particular time period or topic in history and sharing it with other families can actually be a great social activity. One energetic group of homeschoolers held an Explorer's Night with families choosing an Explorer from a specific list to research. Each family gave a presentation to others in whatever format they chose. Examples included, model ship building, a game show, an interview with "Columbus" and "Queen Isabella", and a video taped puppet show.
7) Homeschool Co-ops: Groups of homeschool families meeting together on a regular basis to teach or share in enrichment activities are very popular. Most frequently, the only thing holding back motivation is someone to plan and organize. Read more about homeschool co-ops at www.homeschoolco-ops.com
8) Nature clubs: Medina and Summit county parks sponsor fall and spring hiking events. Medina County parks award a backpack for completing a series of hikes and Summit county awards a walking stick. Send an email out announcing your participation and invite others along. Walking in the woods builds memories and friendships.
9) Dance classes/ City Leagues: For active sports minded homeschooled kids the answer to meeting new friends lies in their avid interest in sports or dance. Serious minded athletes usually commit to their sport with vigor. If your child's free time is spent in dance class or on the practice field most nights then friendships will naturally follow from that group.
10) Church youth groups: Many churches have active youth programs designed to appeal to kids from all sorts of school districts. Participating in church activities will develop friendships that should sustain a lifetime.