There are many opinions regarding homeschooling and one of the strongest and least informed is about socialization. Many people are under the impression that home schooled kids are locked away from civilization for the full eighteen years of their education never to see the light of day or interact with another person again, and the truth is, home schooled kids are extremely well socialized. Here is a list of different socialization approaches parents take while homeschooling to make sure their kids learn proper interactions with other kids and adults.
- Shopping trips. When parents run errands and go out into the community they are often bringing their children with them. While they are out they are teaching their children how to properly address people, how to interact in a community with a variety of services, how to hold a conversation with people, what social norms are, what appropriate behaviors are and more. Taking kids along during these types of trips can be beneficial on so many levels.
- Play dates. When kids are younger getting together with neighbors, friends and family who have kids similar in age is a great way to teach social interaction. If you are new to an area taking some time to research local mom's groups is another way to meet new people and give the kids a chance to make new friends and work on social interaction as well. As kids get older, encouraging them to go over to a friends house or inviting friends over is another way to make sure socialization is happening.
- Homeschool groups. In larger communities homeschooling groups, both religious and secular, can be joined. Even if the homeschooling family lives in a smaller community, they can join a homeschooling group and participate when the travel works out for them. A homeschool group is a group of homeschooling families who get together for bigger lessons. They may go on tours of different places, much like a public school would go on field trips. Sometimes groups also have social events such as field days and school dances. It provides a great atmosphere for kids to make friends and learn together.
- Group classes. Many homeschool families send kids to classes outside the home for a variety of reasons. Popular classes are for music and sports education. Kids get a chance to learn something new and often learn social skills to go along with it. In addition to group classes like sports and music, there are also classes to attend at local museums and zoo's. The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha offers homeschooling classes, as does Joslyn Museum and the Children's museum. There are a lot of great educational opportunities out there, just check the website for the location or give them a call and they will let you know what they have to offer.
- Public events and charity work. Any place where large groups of people are gathering for a common interest is a great place for kids to become socialized. Take kids to sporting events, art events in the park, such as Shakespeare on the Green in Omaha, or Jazz on the Green. These are great places for kids to get some culture and some socialization. Teach kids about charity by having them participate in a fundraiser, especially one where they have to get together with people and race or walk. The Zombie Walk through Benson in the Omaha area is a great one for kids, as is the Color Run.
Being in a classroom full of kids is not the only way to get kids interacting with people and other kids. Sometimes homeschooling families have to be creative, sometimes it's just a matter of getting the kids out in society to interact with people the way they will when they are adults. There are a lot of ways to socialize our kids, both home schooled and public schooled, but the parents need to be involved in both situations to teach kids how to act in public, which is something the school does not have as easy of time doing since they don't typically take the kids out for real life practice often.