Is it just me or does the clock seem to tick faster when your homeschool student enters high school? The pressure is on to make sure that he or she is ready for adulthood. An important part of those preparations is providing plenty of socialization opportunities.
To ensure that your teen is well socialized, it’s helpful to know exactly what socialization is. Encyclopedia Britannica defines socialization as, “The process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society).”
A well-socialized person is comfortable with their peers, with authority figures (such as parents, instructors, and employers), and is able to interact with people of all ages and abilities.
So how does a parent educator make sure their high school student is well socialized? Here are five ways to accomplish this goal.
1. Youth civic organizations
Getting your student involved in a youth civic organization like Civil Air Patrol, Scouting, 4-H, Girl Scouts, or many other such groups will present opportunities to make new friends with teens from a variety of educational experiences. These youth organizations help teens form positive relationships while learning valuable emotional and social skills. Being a part of a group boosts confidence and gives teens a sense of belonging.
Youth civic organizations offer kids practice in being interviewed, in public speaking, in setting goals, and project management. When my middle daughter was in 4-H, she was involved in competitions, volunteered in the community, and traveled around our state and across the nation with her fellow 4-H members.
2. Enrichment academies
Your student and you have likely developed a good working relationship and speak each other’s language by now. When your young adult goes off to college, his or her professors aren’t going to adjust the way they teach to meet your student’s needs like you do. So, it’s important to expose your student to other instructors who teach differently.
Teens also need experience interacting with each other by participating in group projects and study groups and to learn from other adults in a classroom setting so that they will be prepared to do so successfully in college, trade school, or in other group situations. Enrichment academies give students the opportunity to learn to take notes, study for and take exams, and hone time management techniques before going off to college or moving away from home.
3. Part-time jobs
Allowing your student to have a part-time job during high school is another way to help build social skills and work ethic. I got my first non-babysitting job in 10th grade working at a sandwich shop with other teens. I made great friendships with my co-workers and have many wonderful memories from that time in my life. I learned how to interact with customers, accept responsibility, and work under stress. The people skills I learned have been put to use over and over throughout my life. A part-time job will do the same for your student and is worth the time in your teen’s schedule.
4. Homeschool co-op
A homeschool co-op offers a vast array of socialization experiences. When my family was involved in a co-op, my daughter was in a theater group, took PE classes, worked on a school yearbook, and made friends she still knows to this day. Some co-ops host proms and graduation ceremonies. Homeschool co-ops offer high-school students the opportunity to do many things that public school students get to experience, within a supportive community who understands the homeschooling lifestyle.
5. Sports teams
Many people worry that their homeschooled students will miss the experience and camaraderie of team sports. Thankfully, there are many opportunities to be involved in sports, both on homeschool and community teams. Homeschool sports teams have come a long way, to the point that some homeschool basketball and volleyball players are being scouted by colleges. Team sports offer bonding experiences, lifelong friendships, perseverance in difficulties, grace under pressure, discipline, and a place to learn leadership skills.
For some families, one of these socialization options will be more than enough to do the job of making sure that their high school student is well socialized. You can start small and build up activities as your teen becomes more independent and assumes more responsibility for their own schedule. Just be sure that you give socialization as much importance as you do academics as a key to your student’s success in high school and beyond. Take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy this precious, exciting time with your student.