Ever heard the accusation that your kids aren’t “socialized”? If you’ve homeschooled for very long, probably so. Of course, we know that most homeschool students grow into happy, well-adjusted adults.
But even by virtue of its name—homeschooling—our families do tend to spend a lot of time in the home. Most homeschooling families create a comfy, cozy home where they enjoy being. But just like baby birds, we have to leave the nest and stretch our wings if we want to grow. Isolation can become a big problem at times!
In this blog post, we’ll explore seven tips I’ve found helpful over the years in getting homeschool families out and about.
1. Volunteer as a family
Is your family passionate about pets? Your local animal shelter may be a good family community service activity that gets you out of the house and interacting with others. Do you have a heart for the elderly? Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to deliver meals to shut-ins. Combine your family’s interests with a need in your community to combat that urge to hunker down at home.
2. Participate in or start a homeschool meet-up
Do your kids play chess? Does your family enjoy bike riding? Do you like hiking? Getting involved in an established weekly or monthly meet-up could be just the ticket to getting out of the house. Not sure how to find groups? I have had great success with Facebook in finding local homeschool groups that have all sorts of get togethers.
3. Check your local library for courses and activities
The library is a goldmine for homeschoolers! My local library has craft days, Lego days, yoga for preschoolers, sewing lessons, computer lessons, French, English, and Spanish lessons, writer’s groups, astronomy night, and much more. Your tax dollars support your library, so make use of the library and connect with others in your community. Many libraries even offer classes specifically for homeschoolers. Ours has a homeschool art class. Take a look at your lesson plans and see if what the library has to offer can help you with your homeschooling and get you and your kids out of the house.
4. Check into city and county recreational programs
Many cities and counties offer swim lessons, intramural sports, physical fitness classes, and other such activities for both kids and adults. While some homeschool families may have enough kids to have their own basketball or baseball teams, most of us have a hard time teaching our kids team sports. Some of these recreation programs are low-cost or no-cost. Team sports are a fantastic way to help our kids learn valuable life lessons, interact with people outside of our families, and make life-long connections.
5. Join or start a field trip group
Field trips are a great way to get out of the house and learn about all sorts of topics. If there isn’t a field trip group in your area, starting one is fairly easy. Get some interested friends together for a planning meeting. Each family can have the responsibility of planning one field trip each school year. Now your family has to get out of the house at least one day each month if not more. Good-bye isolation!
6. Join or start an academic co-op
When my middle daughter expressed a desire to go to public school in ninth grade, I realized that she needed more opportunities outside of our home. I found a weekly academic co-op that was set up for students to be able to take three classes each Friday. This co-op had classes for all age groups and parents were required to teach one class, assist in one class, and have one class period off. It was a full day co-op. We all brought our lunches and had lunch with the others at co-op. It was a great day of learning and socialization for kids and parents.
7. Get your family involved in youth civic organizations
These organizations are invaluable for getting your family out of the house and for expanding each family member’s capabilities, social skills, and service to the community around them. Some have monthly meetings, some have weekly meetings, and most have a strong community service and leadership component. My family has been involved in 4-H, Scouting, Girl Scouts, and Campfire. I have friends whose children were in Civil Air Patrol. There are so many organizations that you should be able to find one that fits your family to a T. Many churches have their own programs as well.
So, with all of the various options available to you and your kids, there is really no excuse to be stuck at home staring at each other day after day. I would say that true socialization and education requires interacting with folks of all ages, genders, races, and walks of life. As the Nike motto goes, “Just do it!”