Above, a photo of Prisma learners on a meetup trip to D.C.
“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 kids need to be around other kids their own age.”
It can be frustrating hearing these comments as a homeschool parent. Many adults have an outdated view of homeschooling based on stereotypes from their youth.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 1 in 10 families homeschooling, there’s nothing weird about it! And there are ever-increasing settings for those homeschoolers to meet each other.
Socialization is a concern for homeschooling families, of course—like reading, writing, and math. The whole point of homeschooling is for parents to take on the responsibility traditionally given to the traditional school system. Many adults count on their child’s school to “socialize” them. With the abundance of cliques, bullying, conformity, and peer pressure, homeschool parents might argue 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 cohort. Our coaches focus on building uplifting community for healthy socialization. We also focus on developing emotional intelligence, a key driver of successful social skills.
While students in traditional schools have built-in social interaction, homeschooled students need to seek out these opportunities. Just as you design a homeschool schedule, curriculum, and assessment plan, you are responsible for providing enriching socialization!
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways homeschoolers make friends and engage with their peers, while reaping the benefits of a homeschool education.
Homeschoolers need to be more intentional about friendships than peers in mainstream schools. Anyone interested in building friendships at any age should remember:
Now you know that building friendships takes proximity and consistency. So where do you go to find those opportunities for your homeschooler?
These organizations are communities of homeschooling families who gather for 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 friends who are also homeschooled. The best homeschool groups are tight-knit and supportive, organizing regular meet ups and activities catering to a range of ages and interests.
Local homeschool groups can 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.
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 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, and is 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.
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 an activity for existing homeschool groups.
Participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports teams, is another way for homeschooled students to make friends with common interests. Many public schools allow homeschooled children in their district to participate in their extracurriculars.
Also consider 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 their local community college opens classes to homeschooled students. This can be an excellent way 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 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.
We’re fans of online learning, but it depends how it’s done. Here’s some pros and cons of different kinds of online homeschooling resources to consider, plus links to a variety of options.
Unit studies blend multiple subjects together to create real-world, interest-driven learning experiences. Steal the approach our curriculum experts use to create themes with a free downloadable unit study planner.
“The curriculum at Prisma allows learners to learn about their strengths and use their passions in an organic and interdisciplinary way. The kids have the freedom to choose by having differentiated projects, quests, enrichments, and clubs.”
You might be hearing from friends, extended family, and random strangers in the doctor’s office “there’s no way your kid will be able to get into a good college as a homeschooler.” Impolite, yes. True? Let’s figure it out.
“The amount of support and check-ins our learners have at Prisma is unparalleled compared to anywhere else I’ve ever worked.”
Each of the most popular homeschool styles has existed for a long time, and each has diehard evangelizers and fervent critics. From classical to unit studies to unschooling, this guide will help you find the form best suited to your family.
“What most drew me to Prisma was the chance to work with a fully project-based curriculum custom-designed for middle schoolers who are hungry for academic engagement.”
The best online school for your family is a question of priorities: More support or lower tuition costs? Traditional or project-based academics? Asynchronous or lots of interaction? We break it down in this post.
David Waitzer is the Founding Learning Coach for our first cohort in East Asia & Oceania. In this post, he describes how his background teaching and leading for innovative international education companies will help him accelerate the growth of Prisma learners.
Prisma has hundreds of learners across the Western Hemisphere. Along the way, we've gotten requests to launch cohorts in new time zones from families around the world who want to be part of what we’re building. Next up is East Asia & Oceania!
Middle School Curriculum Designer Lizzie uses her diverse experiences: studying Literature at Harvard, leading outdoor adventure expeditions, and teaching high school English, to help Prisma learners find their voices.
The pandemic has made homeschooling easier than ever before with a boom of online options from curriculum, to part-time programs, to full-time schools. But which is best for your family?
Prisma High School’s Launchpad Program will prepare learners to tackle their next phase, be it college, training, or an exciting career. Trevor Baker, our LaunchPad program designer, describes how he sets learners up for success.
You might have to jump in at first. But eventually, with the right modeling and practice, kids can develop the skills to make thoughtful decisions.
Middle School Curriculum Designer Gabe, an expert in interdisciplinary learning with a PhD from the University of Michigan, explains how he designs themes that blend together STEM and literacy.
One of the most fun parts of being a homeschooling parent is creating fun learning experiences for your kiddos! In this post, we share our favorite at-home activities and online resources.
Our Head of Middle School Curriculum explains how her team blends core subjects and real-world topics to design “hard fun” cycle themes.
One of the reasons our team wanted to develop a new kind of school was because we felt traditional schooling doesn’t put enough emphasis on developing emotionally intelligent kids. But what is emotional intelligence and how do you develop it?
"Carolyn is a miracle worker in math. Piper's attitude towards math has improved so much this year. It's never been her favorite subject but Carolyn's patience and encouragement has made such a positive impact." -Alexia A., Prisma parent
Media literacy is touted as one of the most important “21st century skills” for kids to master, in line with creativity, communication, and grit. Thinking through the amount of time most of us spend interacting with some form of media each day makes a good case for this.
“Lauren is fantastic and has struck a nice balance of connecting with Cooper and keeping him on task. I'm impressed to see real growth in Cooper around self awareness, reflecting on his “glows and grows,” and goal setting.” -Kym J., Prisma parent
“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort
By introducing these concepts at home, you're setting your child up to be more financially responsible and savvy, giving them the tools to navigate an increasingly complex financial world.
“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent
The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.