When students across the country were forced to learn from home, many families found the adjustment to be more enlightening than frightening. Even in its rapidly put-together format, there were some benefits to homeschooling that fit their lifestyles. Whether you have homeschooled your children in the past or are now enticed by the notion, one common concern is the question of socialization. Will your child have the opportunity to make friends, explore their community, and connect with other students who share similar interests? In some ways, homeschooling can actually enhance socialization.
The Truth About Socialization
When your child goes to a traditional school environment, the opportunities to interact and socialize with other students are plentiful. However, their interactions with other students may not always be positive. They may witness or experience bullying, harassment, peer pressure, and other toxic behaviors that can negatively impact their self-esteem and academic performance.
Because of these negative experiences, and the lack of academic rigor at many traditional schools, many families now opt to homeschool their children. According to a recent study by the Associated Press, the number of homeschooled children climbed 63% during the 2020-21 school year and only fell 17% during the 2021-22 school year, showing that many families continued their child’s remote learning after pandemic restrictions were lifted.
How to Foster Socialization in a Homeschool Environment
Your decision to homeschool may revolve around changes to school policies or health concerns. Or now that you have experienced the freedom of homeschooling, you may want to continue to reap its benefits. But just because your child is at home while they learn doesn’t mean that they won’t engage with peers. If you decide to enroll them in an online school, choosing the right school and method of instruction are critical to both their education and their socialization. Some factors to consider are:
Choose synchronous learning and your child will have the opportunity to engage with their teachers and peers in real-time. Your child can still interact with other students, collaborate on projects, and ask questions but all from the comfort of their own home.
In a traditional school, your child meets children from the same area, who have similar backgrounds and may come from the same culture. But in a digital learning environment, your child’s classmates may come from different cultures or countries from around the globe. This broadens their worldview, teaches them cross-cultural communication and respect of others, and allows them to make friends with people they would likely not have met otherwise.
Some online schools also offer virtual social events, such as game nights, student art presentations, trivia competitions, poetry readings, and other group activities. These are great opportunities for your child to socialize with others outside of the virtual classroom. They can let loose, have fun, and make friends. Homeschooling also gives you more opportunity to enjoy the benefits of your community or surrounding areas because you’re not limited to weekends and school vacations.
Exercise and Sports
Physical education is important for children, but not everyone wants to participate in formal team sports. Life sports like hiking, skiing, sailing, tennis, and others provide physical exercise and the chance to find like-minded friends. And it can do so without cliques or competitive pressure to act up with locker room antics. With a homeschool schedule, you have the flexibility to incorporate physical activity into your child’s day when and how they need it. They can choose to participate in community/league/pre-professional sports, take dance classes, swim in the family pool, or meet up with other local homeschool students who want to exercise. The same goes for flexibility, autonomy, and variety homeschool students have in other extracurricular pursuits such as the arts, music, entrepreneurship, and more.
Social Benefits of Homeschooling
Some research suggests that students who are homeschooled may be more socially mature and tend to make wiser decisions about partying in high school and in college. Other studies show that homeschooled students have quality friendships, are optimistic about their lives, and are more civically engaged than their peers. Some other benefits of homeschooling include:
- Students tend to act more ethically and demonstrate social responsibility
- Students may have fewer emotional problems
- Students can be more open-minded and willing to try new things
- Students may develop stronger relationships with their parents and other adults
- Students are just as social as their peers
If you’ve had questions about homeschooling and socialization, Gravitas may be the answer. As the online extension of The Stony Brook School, Gravitas and its method of homeschooling are backed by more than 100 years of educational excellence. Discover a world-class prep school education by inquiring now to learn more.