Monday, July 19, 2010
Will My Homeschooled Child’s Social Skills Suffer?
There’s no doubt that as madres y padres, we want our niños 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:
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.
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 a 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.
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 level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.
Play groups are another way to get together with other families of similar age, lifestyles, or goals. Bilingual play groups especially are on the rise. To find one near you, click here.
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, multiligual 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.
Side note: I just LOVED reading this article about how the Girl Scouts are pushing to involve more Latinos. And when I saw the new Delores Huerta patch (pictured above) that the girls can earn, I was ecstatic! You can read more about the patch here.
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.
What about you? In what ways do your homeschoolers interact with other children?
Con mucho cariño…