Creating a Thriving Homeschool Environment
One of the biggest risks of homeschooling has nothing to do with lesson plans or book study. The risk of isolation looms over every homeschool parent, and more deeply, in the quiet hearts of their children. Always taking a holistic approach, YesPhonics™ rounded up five important tools that every parent should know to ensure that their kids receive the proper social experiences in their homeschool adventure.
Creating Positive Social Interactions:
Engaged parents want to give their children the best education possible, and the following tips for creating social experiences will help students become unique and well-rounded individuals.
Dr. Scott Turansky, from the Homeschoolers Support Network, says, “Socialization is important to a child’s growth and development. Having all the education one might muster can’t overcome weaknesses in the ability to relate to others. On the other hand, good social skills can do a lot to overcome academic struggles when it comes to obtaining a job or being a productive adult in society.”
5 Great Social Opportunities
To give your homeschool child vital experiences in social situations, which are actually more positive than they may receive on the school bus or playground, try these five ideas, offered by Tiffany Washko of Nature Moms:
1. Local Homeschool Groups. One of the best and easiest ways to provide social opportunities is to join a local homeschool group. These groups are very popular and located nationwide. In addition to providing a support network to homeschooling families, these groups sponsor all types of educational field trips and gatherings. You can find other parents who have the same values and beliefs that you do and who do their best to inculcate these same qualities in their children. HomeSchool.com has a database where you can search for homeschool groups in your local area.
2. Band, Sports and Theatre. Another wonderful way to provide children with the opportunity to socialize is to utilize the extra-curricular activities offered by your local school district. Schools must allow children who learn at home the option to participate in activities such as band, sports and drama. Take the time to contact the school district, in which you reside, for further information on the specific extracurricular programs, available to your child.
If you have aspiring actors or filmmakers in your family, contact your community access television company for help in creating short films, renting equipment and help with editing sofware such as Final Cut Pro. Local theaters and universities are often looking for young talent in staging film and theatrical productions. If your children show a keen interest, consider investing in a DSLR camera, and they can make their own movies.
Another popular option, especially if you live in a bigger city, is to invest in a good acting workshop class such as the New York Film Academy (NYFA). There are also a wide variety of childrens’ improv acting workshops which help stimulate creativity through different acting exercises, all while being around their fellow peers.
3. Volunteerism. Allow your children to volunteer within their own community. If they are old enough, children can assist in many ways, while developing an understanding of needs outside their normal social circles. Some ideas: assist at the Humane Society, plant trees and restore habitat for environment groups, help stock items at the local Food Bank, assist with senior services such as Meals on Wheels. As a parent, you will need to accompany your child in these endeavors.
4. Book Stores. Visit popular bookstore chains to find out if they do weekly or daily book readings in the children’s section. Barnes and Noble offers two weekly readings of popular children’s books in many states. Libraries also have these opportunities, where children can hear a good book and socialize with other kids.
5. Play! Check your local YMCA or your city’s park and recreation department for their class offerings. Classes often include activities such as swimming, dance, cooking and crafts of all kinds.
Better Social Skills?
While some parents fear that homeschooling will impair their children’s social skills, Dr. Turansky suggests that homeschoolers are often more socially adept than their peers in public school. “By concentrating on the importance of each child and on building self-esteem, home instruction can develop strong self-confident children. The interest shown by the parent reinforces the child’s sense of security and identity. And, oddly enough, need not produce a child dependent on the family, but rather a child who is able to move with a deep sense of self-confidence into various situations.”
Planned events can be positive social experiences, says Washko of Nature Moms, “as opposed to much of the negative social interaction that occurs in the public school setting on a daily basis. Just think about the benefits that can be had by being able to choose who your child socializes with and under what circumstances. As a parent you can direct your child’s social activities so that for the most part, he or she is only exposed to positive, up-building people and experiences.”
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