50 Socialization Ideas for Homeschoolers

Source

In 2007 the US Department of Education estimated that 2.9% of the school aged population was homeschooled. With these 1.5 million children available during the day, services and groups arose to meet the growing demand. More recent official numbers are not available but many estimates show the number of homeschoolers increasing each year. Gone are the days when a homeschooled child could reasonably be assumed to be living an isolated life, perhaps kept indoors from 8-3 to avoid the truancy officer. More common today is the complaint from a homeschooling family that they're never at home.

Beginning homeschool families and those choosing a more traditional school option often wonder about socialization. Those who have homeschooled for a while tend to scoff at this boogieman. If socialization is defined as acquiring the skills, habits, and knowledge necessary to for adult status (Merriam-Webster) then what does that mean for the 43% of Americans age 18 to 25 who were living with their parents in 2010? Most of them received a traditional education. This indicates that the best method to guide a child to the highest functional adult status for that individual needs to be customized to that child.

Small, interest based groups can teach a child to work cooperatively, problem solve, and put forth his best work just as well as, if not better than, a large group of age similar peers sharing an experience none of them chose to have.

Where to Look for Groups

  1. Yahoo Groups. I have no idea why this format is so popular with homeschoolers but it dominates all other methods of homeschool parent contact in my experience.
  2. Google search. Put in your city or county and "homeschool."
  3. Facebook search.
  4. Follow Facebook pages and ask questions of groups.

Possible Sponsoring Organizations for Homeschool Groups

  1. Your state or local advocacy group
  2. The parks and recreation department
  3. The public library
  4. State and regional parks and wildlife areas
  5. All of the above of any town, county, or department within driving distance
  6. Churches
  7. Co-ops
  8. YMCA
  9. YWCA

Groups Not Specific to Homeschoolers

This is a diverse list of groups. All sponsor more than one chapter or club but not all of them are currently available in all geographic regions. Because of the differences in the beliefs put forward by each group is it likely that some organizations on this list will be a very poor fit for your family. The inclusion of a group here is not an endorsement but an acknowledgement that the right group for one child or family may be very different from the right group for another.

  1. Boy Scouts
  2. Baden-Powell Service Association
  3. Girl Scouts
  4. 4-H and 4-H Cloverbuds
  5. AWANAs
  6. Camp Fire USA
  7. Boys and Girls Clubs
  8. Makers Clubs
  9. DIY.org (currently online only)
  10. Indian Princesses and Indian Guides
  11. Sierra Club
  12. National Outdoor Leadership School
  13. Luther League
  14. Navigators USA
  15. Scouting For All
  16. Spiral Scouts
  17. American Heritage Girls
  18. Camp Quest
  19. Girl Guides
  20. Civil Air Patrol
  21. Junior ROTC
  22. Earth Champs
  23. Trackers
  24. Live Action Role Play (LARP)
  25. Progress School
  26. Adventure Scouts
  27. Earth Scouts
  28. Audubon Society
  29. Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  30. Future Farmers of America
  31. Future Homemakers of America
  32. Society for Creative Anachronism


Group Dynamics

Does it require a group to have a social learning experience or can a single individual learn from another single individual? Do social skills have to be learned in person or, particularly for children who will grow to adulthood in the 21st century, can knowledge be gained from online contact? Are same age peers the best teachers of interpersonal skills? Is a large group of same age peers reflective of the day to day social and work experience of most adults?

The best learning environment for social skills isn't necessarily one that replicates a public school classroom. When choosing an appropriate place to practice the behaviors a child will need to function as an adult it is valid to provide a variety of opportunity types. Consider the following options that impact group dynamics when seeking "socialization."

  1. Large group
  2. Medium size group
  3. Small group
  4. One on one with another child
  5. One on one with an adult
  6. Multi-age
  7. Limited age
  8. Mentored
  9. Led
  10. Independent
  11. Consensus
  12. Cooperative

A traditional public school classroom is a led, limited age, large group. A 4H club is more likely to be a mentored, multi-age, medium size group. Volunteer work with a senior citizen may be a one on one experience with an extreme diversity of ages but interpersonal skills are certainly practiced during it.

What to Do?

Here are the 50 ideas promised in the title. Any activity your child does with another child is a social activity, but here are a few of the social outlets available to most homeschoolers in a mid-size or larger metropolitan area.

  1. Sports
  2. Book club
  3. Field trip group
  4. Science club
  5. Lego club
  6. Lego modelers club
  7. Lego robotics league and competitions
  8. Martial arts class
  9. Open gym
  10. Art class
  11. Theater group
  12. Paleontology group
  13. Geology group
  14. Model train club
  15. Music lessons
  16. Community band
  17. Community choir
  18. Robotics team
  19. Volunteer work
  20. Babysitting
  21. Tutoring
  22. Gymnastics
  23. Planetarium classes
  24. Online classes
  25. Skype language practice
  26. Nature walks
  27. Hiking club
  28. Running club
  29. Religious instruction
  30. Math club
  31. Mathlete competitions
  32. Bird watching
  33. Poetry readings
  34. Hunting clubs
  35. Fishing
  36. Open mike at the coffee shop or bookstore
  37. Horseback riding
  38. Ice skating
  39. Family time
  40. Art museums
  41. Science museums
  42. Children's museums
  43. History museums
  44. Niche museums
  45. Zoo classes
  46. Chess club
  47. Board game club
  48. Minecraft
  49. Homeschool park days
  50. Play dates with a friend

Source

And In Conclusion...

Socialization is only a problem if the parents of the children choose to make it a problem or if there is an underlying special need that would have made socialization a challenge even without homeschool.

Your ideas and comments are welcome.

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Comments 2 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

True, there are quite a number of activity groups for homeschoolers. Thanks for listing them.


Wacky Mummy profile image

Wacky Mummy 3 years ago from UK

This article made me smile! As an home educator this a question that I am constantly asked and it gets rather annoying after a while!

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