Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community.
“Aren’t homeschool kids weird?”
“How will your kids get socialized if they don’t go to school?”
“That’s cool that you homeschool, but I think kids need to be around other kids their own age.”
It can be frustrating hearing comments like the above as a homeschool parent. Many adults of today have an outdated view of homeschooling, associating it with stereotypes from their youth. But while less than 1% of families homeschooled in the 1980s, the latest estimates show over 7% of families homeschool at least one child.
With nearly one in ten families homeschooling, there’s nothing weird about it! And with so many families homeschooling, there are ever-increasing settings for those homeschoolers to meet each other.
Socialization is a concern for homeschooling families, of course, just like reading, writing, and math instruction are. The whole point of homeschooling is that the parents take on the responsibility traditionally given to the teacher and traditional school system. Many adults count on their child’s school to take on the duty of “socializing” them. With the abundance of cliques, bullying, conformity, and peer pressure, many homeschool parents would argue that this process of socialization is more harmful than beneficial. At Prisma, we’ve designed a virtual school where homeschoolers are led by a learning coach in an intentionally small, close-knit cohort model. Our coaches focus on building uplifting, meaningful community for healthy socialization.
While students in traditional school environments have built-in social interaction throughout their day, homeschooled students often need to seek out these opportunities. Just as you design for your child a schedule, curriculum, and assessment plan, you are responsible for ensuring your homeschooler has enriching socialization.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that homeschoolers make friends and engage with their peers, while still reaping the benefits of a homeschool education.
Homeschoolers need to be more intentional about building friendships than their peers in mainstream schools. Anyone interested in building friendships of any age should remember:
So now that you know that building friendships takes proximity and consistency, where do you go to find those opportunities for your homeschooler?
Here’s a bunch of our favorite ideas:
These organizations are communities of homeschooling families who get together for various activities, like field trips and playdates. They provide a social network for both the homeschooled children and homeschooling parents, offering an ideal setting for kids to meet new friends who are also being homeschooled. The best homeschool groups are tight-knit and supportive, often organizing regular meet ups and activities that cater to a range of ages and interests.
Local homeschool groups can often be found through social media, online forums, or even through a simple Google search. If your local community doesn't already have a homeschool group, consider starting one. Even a small group can make a big difference in the social lives of homeschooled students.
At Prisma, one of our favorite place to find local homeschool groups in through Facebook, especially the Secular Eclectic Academic homeschool group.
A homeschool co-op is another excellent resource. Co-ops are usually groups of homeschooling families who meet up and share teaching responsibilities. Each homeschool mom or dad might teach a subject they are particularly good at or passionate about. This gives homeschooled students a chance to learn in a group setting, much like they would in a regular school. More importantly, it's a great opportunity to form friendships and learn social skills.
Another variation on homeschool co-ops are called microschools. These operate similarly to homeschool co-ops, but are often run by a certified teacher. KaiPod is a network of microschools where each family chooses individual curriculum. Some KaiPod families choose to use Prisma or another online school as their curriculum provider through KaiPod.
Field trips are another fantastic way for homeschoolers to make friends. Many museums, zoos, and other educational institutions offer special programs or days specifically for homeschooling groups. This provides an excellent chance for homeschooled children to interact and learn together, fostering both educational and social opportunities.
But remember, consistency is key in building friendships, especially for older kids. Don’t expect your child to build lifelong friendships at a one-day field trip, but they can be great for younger kids to practice interacting with peers, or as something to do for existing homeschool groups.
Participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports teams, is another common way for homeschooled students to meet peers and make friends with common interests. Many public schools allow homeschooled children in their district to participate in their sports programs.
There are also private leagues and youth groups that offer sports, performing arts, scouting, and more. This gives homeschooled children the opportunity to engage in team-building activities and to form relationships in a structured environment. The activity that will work best for your child depends on their interests! Although it’s a great idea to push them out of their comfort zone a little bit, they’re unlikely to make deep friendships if they’re not interested in the activity at all.
High school homeschoolers might find that their local community college offers classes open to homeschooled students. This can be an excellent way for them to experience a more traditional school setting, earn college credit before graduating high school, meet people from different walks of life, and make friends. Prisma’s high school program encourages learners to do this in their local communities.
Summer camps also provide excellent opportunities for homeschooled kids to meet new friends. Summer camps often cater to specific interests, which means your child will already have something in common with the other campers. Overnight camps, if your child is brave enough, are especially good at fostering that unstructured, independent bonding time that older kids need.
Homeschooling families can also use technology to their advantage. There are numerous apps and online platforms designed to help homeschooled students connect with each other. Social media platforms have numerous groups and forums dedicated to homeschooling.
Beyond full-time virtual programs like Prisma, there are numerous other websites and apps that offer educational and social opportunities for homeschooled students. Some of the most popular include Outschool and Synthesis.
At Prisma, many of our learners enjoy making friends through online games like Roblox (read our post about Roblox here) or Fortnite or creative online platforms like Scratch. Although parent supervision is essential, these virtual opportunities can offer kids the chance to socialize in a different way, even with kids they’ve already met in person.
In addition to homeschool-specific resources, it's important for homeschooled children to engage with their local community as a whole. This might involve volunteering at a local food bank, participating in community theatre, or joining a youth group at a local place of worship. At Prisma, we do an annual “Change Makers” theme where learners design their own community service project.
While the homeschooling journey can sometimes feel isolating, there are numerous support groups available for both homeschooling parents and homeschooled children. These groups can be found online or in your local community and can offer advice, resources, and companionship. Don't underestimate the value of these support systems; a good friend who understands your unique experiences can be invaluable.
All these avenues for social interaction play a vital role in the development of social skills and friendships for homeschooled children. Just like in a traditional school, these experiences help children learn to navigate social dynamics, work as part of a team, and build lasting relationships.
Ultimately, it's important to remember that making friends as a homeschooler is no different from making friends in any other situation. It requires effort, patience, and a willingness to step outside of one's comfort zone. Whether through a homeschool group, a sports team, or a book club, the key is to find activities that your child enjoys and use them as opportunities to connect with others.
Homeschooling might not provide the same automatic socialization as a regular school, but with a bit of creativity and initiative, homeschooled students can enjoy a rich and fulfilling social life. Remember, it's not about the quantity of friends, but the quality. A good friend, whether met at a homeschool co-op, on a sports team, or at a summer camp, can add immeasurable richness to your child's homeschooling experience and their life as a whole.
As a homeschooling parent, your role is crucial in helping your child navigate their social world. Encourage them to explore their interests, introduce them to new experiences, and support them in their social endeavors. With your support and the myriad of resources available, your homeschooled child can build a vibrant and diverse circle of friends.
Want to learn more about how Prisma can empower your child to thrive?Talk with usTalk with us
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