Homeschooling, Lockdowns, Remote learning and Children Well Being
Whether you are just starting your journey of homeschooling or remote learning, or you have been at it for some time, probably the number one question you get asked (or you ask yourself) is about socialization: How will your kids be properly socialized if they are learning at home rather than in a school environment? How will their well-being be while on remote learning?
It’s an understandable concern. After all, most of us spent our childhoods in more traditional educational settings, attending brick and mortar schools, surrounded by other kids daily, and where social interaction was an intrinsic part of our educational experience. How can this be replicated if we are teaching our children at home?
[Must read: Get Started with Home Schooling]
While socialization certainly looks different for homeschooled kids (or kids who do remote learning through a distance learning modality), most parents will tell you that their kids who learn at home are doing just fine in the socialization department.
Why? Well, it’s partly because homeschooling usually doesn’t take place exclusively at home, and homeschoolers actually interact frequently with others. But it’s also because homeschool parents usually make an effort to bring socializing into the mix, with positive results.
Here’s how families of kids who are homeschooled, or otherwise kids who do remote learning, ensure that socialization and well-being happens so that kids form meaningful relationships with their peers, are well-rounded—and most of all, are happy.
[Must read: How Can We Help Children with Virtual Learning]
No one can deny that socializing with other children is an important part of child development, especially as kids move through the elementary school years and into secondary grades. Of course, interactions with trusted adults—such as parents, other family members, and teachers—can be enriching too, but children are meant to play and explore with other children.
But it’s not just about having playmates. Socialization also teaches your child how to handle and resolve conflicts with others—and how to navigate sharing, cooperating, respecting another child’s personal space, and being respectful and empathetic.
School environments also teach children how to follow directions from others, be good listeners, and take turns when speaking. These skills don’t always come naturally to young children, and need to be taught and nurtured. So how do we ensure our childrens well-being while homeschooling or remote learning or on lockdowns?
Most homeschoolers will tell you that the thing to keep in mind about homeschooling or remote learning is that only a small portion of it happens at home.
Most children can finish their lessons or academic work within a few hours and still have several more hours free each day to do other activities—and most of these activities involve interactions with others.
In fact, many children do a large bulk of their academic schooling with others—such as in homeschool co-ops and through outside classes and activities aimed at homeschooled kids and families.
Really, the ways that you can keep your home learner engaged with others are endless, especially with a little planning. Here are some of the most popular ways that homeschool parents give their elementary-aged kids opportunities for socializing.
[Must-read: Amazing Tips for Online Students]
Join a Homeschool Co-op
Homeschool co-ops are popular ways to connect with other homeschool or remote learning families so that your children can play and learn with others. Some of these co-ops are primarily social in nature; others involve parents taking turns teaching classes or hiring tutors to teach students.
Enroll in Extracurricular Activities
Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean your child can’t participate in after-school or weekend activities with non-homeschool kids. Some public schools even allow homeschool kids to participate in their extracurricular activities.
Sign your child up for martial arts, dance, cooking, piano, computer coding—whatever floats their boat.
[Must read: Extracurricular activities – how many is enough?]
Get Involved in Sports
If you have a sporty kid, getting them on a local sports team (even through your local school district if allowed) is a wonderful way for you to socialize with your child. Sports involve many of the important skills you will want your child to learn, such as teamwork, communication, and managing big emotions.
Volunteer at the local zoo, a homeless shelter, or soup kitchen. Older kids can volunteer at a local non-profit, an animal rescue, or a local hospital. There are so many opportunities to get your kids involved in local civic organizations.
All of them are educational opportunities as well as ways to interact with others in meaningful ways.
Register Your Child for Classes
Even without enrolling your child in a full-day school program, there are academic classes you can usually find within your community. Many non-profits, environmental centers, museums, and libraries offer educational classes for kids of all ages. These are also great ways for your child to get used to a classroom-like setting and engage with others.
[Must read: We Better Get used to Remote Learning]
Take Community College Courses
High school-aged homeschoolers are often able to enroll in community college courses. This is a fantastic way to enrich your child’s education, teach them to be more independent, and give them opportunities to engage with others.
And of course, there’s the bonus that they will get a leg up on their college coursework (at a very low cost per credit).
Go to Summer Camp
Homeschoolers often attend camp—day camp and sleepaway camp. This is a great way to make long-lasting friendships and is also a good way to build grit and independence.
Whatever you do, get your homeschooler outside. Of course, homeschooled or remote learning kids need sunshine and movement as much as any child. But going beyond your own backyard offers more opportunities for socialization and well-being for your child.
Visit your local park frequently, go to the zoo and botanical gardens. If you visit these places during school hours, you might run into a homeschooler or two and make fast friends.
Years ago, homeschooling was far less popular and accepted than it is today. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, many families explored homeschool or remote learning options for their children. And even if they weren’t teaching their kids themselves, many children learned at home during hybrid or distance learning.
Socializing your homeschooled or remote learning child during a lockdown is certainly different than it would be in normal times. Many families are continuing to keep extracurricular activities and social situations on hold (or online) until their children can be vaccinated.
Still, there are many creative ways to keep your child socialized, including socially distanced playdates and virtual classes and gatherings. Either way, it can be reassuring to know that educating your child at home is not likely to be detrimental to their overall social development. On the contrary, with a little creativity and exploration, there are many ways to ensure that your home-educated child thrives and forms meaningful connections to others.
You might also be interested to take a look at our recent blogs for more learning tips and guides.
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