Monday, July 19, 2010

Will My Homeschooled Child’s Social Skills Suffer?



© Can Stock Photo / pressmaster

One concern that potential homeschoolers have is about their child’s social life. Will my child learn how to interact with other children if I don’t put him in school? Will my child learn how to become a team player? Will my child learn the concepts of cooperation, trust, and fellowship?

There’s no doubt that as madres y padres, we want our kids to grow up to be well-rounded and able to form meaningful relationships.

So the real question is not “Does my child need social interaction with other kids?” but rather, “How MUCH socialization does my child need with other children?”

Fortunately for most homeschooling families, there are a number of ways to provide your child with an opportunity to interact with other kids their age. Here are some of the most popular:


Homeschooling Co-ops


Groups of homeschoolers are being established all over the country. I would never in a million years have guessed that there were so many families homeschooling in my area until I learned about some of my local homeschool groups and organizations.

The great thing about them is that they usually organize weekly or monthly field trips to local museums and other attractions to allow children to get together on a frequent basis and in a healthy, monitored atmosphere. This is a real benefit not only for the children but also for the parents who are then able to share and learn from each other.

There is also power in numbers and by joining a co-op, you may be able to benefit from the association, as many pool resources or receive discounts to local businesses, classes or events. In addition, joining may help keep you updated about local classes or other activities available to homeschooled students. To find a co-op or other support group in your area, click here. Or just look for homeschool groups in your area on Facebook. After you join a group, you can ask what co-ops are available.


Extra-curricular Activities and Classes


Do a little investigating and you may discover a number of learning opportunities for your child. Check out your neighborhood museums for science or art classes. Or how about your local symphony? They may offer music classes or have a list of private and group teachers.

Do you have a zoo in your town? Many times they offer weekend classes and summer camps on conservation, ecology, or wildlife management.

And don’t forget your local YMCA. Many have swim teams, soccer leagues, gym classes, and other activities that you can sign your child up for.


Libraries and Bookstores


Most libraries offer weekly storytime, as do many bookstores. Some even offer bilingual storytimes, so be sure to ask your librarian about it. If not, maybe you can volunteer your services to start one!

Both may also have active book clubs, so be sure to ask what kind of opportunities for children they may have available.


Cultural Centers


Large cities – and sometimes small towns – often have a Latino cultural center that offers cooking, art, writing, or traditional (i.e., Folklorico) dance classes. I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to foster pride in our children of their heritage and culture.


Odyssey of the Mind


Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World levels. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.


Playgroups


Playgroups are another way to get together with other families of similar ages, lifestyles, or goals. Bilingual playgroups especially are on the rise.


Civil Air Patrol

My son joined our local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron last year and it has been an absolute blessing. CAP is a non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and occupations. Their cadet program for kids ages 12 - 18 teaches their young members all about aviation, flying drones, cybersecurity, rocketry, and so much more. Cadets wear uniforms and pass online tests to advance. And the best part is that they can qualify to have their pilot's license paid for by the organization. It's a fabulous opportunity for both young men and women!! Our son's squadron has around 30 kids participating. And he's already gone up for his first flight. 

Clubs


Look to see if there is an active 4-H club in your area. If there’s not, why don’t you start your own? 4-H is an awesome opportunity for your child “to learn by doing.” The club’s members run the meetings and are exposed to a number of opportunities to make presentations, learn new things, and develop their own leadership qualities. Clubs may be centered around one particular theme (i.e., bilingualism, Spanish, multilingual living!) or random

Somewhat along the same lines are the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. These clubs are great for socializing in a “fun” atmosphere where all the children are working together towards the same goal.


Your Church


If you belong to a church, check-in and find out if they have a children’s choir or other youth organization. Chances are you already know most of the kids and families anyway!


As you can see, there are many opportunities for homeschooled children to get together with others of similar backgrounds or interests.

Con mucho cariño…


Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 

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