Social interaction is one of the biggest concerns parents have when it comes to online schooling or homeschooling. Many parents fear that choosing to homeschool their children will be bad for their social development and may negatively affect the child’s social and emotional skills.
The idea that homeschooled students are less social or socially awkward is far from the truth. There are many social activities for homeschoolers to participate in and there are many ways that homeschooled children can socialise with other kids.
In this article, we will look at different ways that homeschooled children socialise and some of the benefits attached to this approach to socialisation.
How homeschooled children socialise
Homeschooling families treat socialisation as a priority and they consciously pursue and participate in social activities instead of relying on socialisation to take place in a traditional classroom environment. This approach means that children can socialise with other kids across different age groups who share common interests.
There are many ways that homeschooled children can socialise with their peers, these include;
- Extra-curricular activities are short courses or activities that take place outside a curriculum. Children can socialise with other homeschoolers and children from traditional schools through activities like art club or Toastmasters. Children can also enrol in extracurricular online courses like Robotics, Python Coding or Junior Artificial Intelligence. The social and emotional learning course offered at CambriLearn is structured around peer participation and group work and thus offers a great opportunity to socialise with other children whilst learning to cope with social anxieties and peer pressures.
- Sports and culture clubs are another great way that homeschooled children can socialise with other children in their community. Whether your child is interested in golf, chess, soccer, cricket, hockey or swimming, chances are that there will be a community-based club for this sport in your area. Many parents with sporty or academically gifted children choose homeschooling over a traditional school in order to focus more attention on the child’s talents and abilities. Children who want to professionally compete can adopt a more flexible learning schedule in order to accommodate training time into their day without risking burnout.
- Hybrid learning refers to sending a child to a local tutor or learning pod where they can complete their online schooling curriculum. This has become a very popular schooling choice - especially post-pandemic. Many parents saw first-hand how their children thrived and were happier in a more flexible online learning environment and thus had some hesitations when returning to the traditional classroom. In the same breath, many of these parents work and were left with no choice but to send their children back to school as they were not able to leave their children at home unattended when they returned to the office. Hybrid schooling bridges the gap between traditional schooling and homeschooling. It provides the freedom and flexibility of online learning combined with tutor support and social interactions when studying alongside a peer group.
- Social meet-ups and events are another great way that homeschooled children can socialise. CambriLearn understands the importance of socialisation and focuses on providing our homeschooled learners with social activities and events. As a homeschooling parent, you can find out more about social activities and events in your area through our Facebook community groups or on our CambriLearn school culture webpage.
- Online community platforms, like Discord, are another way that a child can socialise with their peers. Whilst priority should be given to face-to-face social interaction, the opportunity to socialise with peers online means that a child can interact with peers from all around the world and not just in their country of residence. This form of social interaction allows the child to learn more about different cultures and encourages them to be more understanding and conscious of other belief systems and ways of life.
Social benefits of online schooling or homeschooling
There are many benefits to online schooling or homeschooling when it comes to socialisation, some of these include;
- Socialisation across different ages: A massive benefit of enrolling with a local tutor or Learning Pod is that older children often help the younger children in the pod. This not only accelerates and supports learning but also leads to character building and social development.
- Common interests: Instead of being forced to socialise with children of the same age in a typical classroom environment, children can now choose to socialise with peers who share the same interests. For example, enrolling your child in horse riding will allow them the opportunity to meet other children who love horse riding and they can bond over their common love for horses. These bonds can be formed across age groups, gender and cultural backgrounds.
- Coping with social anxiety: Many children fear speaking in public and may experience heightened anxiety in a traditional classroom environment. Online schooling allows the child to participate in smaller class groups and in social activities of like-minded individuals, this helps alleviate social anxiety and develops a child's social and emotional skills.
- Socialisation for gifted children: Parents with gifted children often choose to homeschool as they believe that their children perform better in a more personalised and flexible learning environment. One that can be tailor-made to their unique learning style and pace of learning. Gifted children may tend to feel socially awkward or anxious about their abilities and get labelled with negative associations like “nerd” at school. Encouraging gifted children to socialise with peers of equal intelligence can reduce feelings of social anxiety and can help gifted students embrace and develop their talents instead of shy away from them.
Whilst the concerns around socialisation and homeschooling are understandable, the truth is that there is no evidence to support that homeschooling children lack in social areas. In fact, larger classes and peer pressure can do more social harm than good. Children who are homeschooled tend to have more time and energy to participate in sporting and social activities with other kids who share similar interests across different age groups.