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7 Proven Ways to Guarantee Your Homeschooled Child Won’t be Socially Awkward

Learn how to address socialization concerns in homeschooling by using these tried and true strategies.Use these tips to ensure your child's social skills develop optimally.

Monochrome Photo of Two Girls Playing

Introduction: The Longing for Well-Rounded Kids

We all want kids that are well-rounded–kids who are smart, who have their priorities straight, who can solve problems, who are athletic, and of course who can hold a meaningful conversation with others (and all the better if they can cooperate with others to create solutions to real-world problems!). However, many worry that a home education is a trade-off in this one area in particular: socialization. People worry that homeschooled children might miss out on the social interactions and experiences available in traditional school settings.

I've been there too! Everywhere you look, stereotypes portray homeschooled kids as being backwards as can be and all-together a bit odd. We've all seen the movies with awkward homeschooled kids and cringed inside as we said a silent prayer that we hoped we weren't unknowingly doing the same to our own kid.

BUT I can attest to the fact that this is not the case when parents are INTENTIONAL about incorporating these 7 strategies into their homeschooling routines (extra important if you are a reserved parent like me and my husband!). In this blog post, we will explore the challenges of homeschooling and socialization and provide actionable solutions for those at risk for turning into the stereotype! By the end, you'll have a better understanding of how to ensure your child's healthy social development while homeschooling.

1. Join Homeschooling Groups

One of the best ways to ensure socialization in homeschooling is to join homeschooling groups or co-ops. These communities offer a fantastic opportunity for your child to interact with peers regularly. When my daughter started going to a local homeschooling group, I saw her confidence grow. She made friends quickly and participated in group activities (a huge deal for her!). This is also a fantastic way to get your child used to interacting and collaborating with people who are not exactly the same age as them…kind of exactly like the real world!

Free stock photo of adult, bench, child
Homeschool groups provide a great source of social interaction, with exposure to various age groups as well.

2. Lean into Extracurricular Activities

Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, music lessons, or art classes. These activities provide valuable opportunities to make friends and interact with children who share similar interests. My daughter's participation in soccer not only introduced her to the world of team sports (aka having a lot of people watch you while you try to do a high-pressure task), but it also led to close friendships with her fellow teammates.

Four Women Embracing Each Other While Smiling
Sports and other extracurriculars are a great way to work on teamwork and cooperation.

3. Get Involved in the Community

Engaging in community service or volunteering can also be an excellent way to enhance your child's social development. It teaches them empathy, teamwork, and helps them connect with others outside the homeschooling environment. We started volunteering for service projects more regularly through our church, and my children not only learned valuable life lessons but also made some lasting friendships with other young volunteers. It's also worth mentioning, if you attend church, make sure your kid is regularly attending all of the youth events (these are a wealth of opportunity for fun and leisure too). If you don't go to church, what organizations can you get involved in locally?

People volunteering at community service together
Make it a point to get your kid volunteering at local organizations on a regular basis. This helps kids look outside of themselves and can be an opportunity to meet new people.

4. Arrange Playdates

Organize regular playdates with neighbors or friends from homeschooling groups. These one-on-one interactions can help build close friendships and ensure that your child is not missing out on socialization. Some of the best homeschooling memories come from spontaneous playdates that evolve into lasting friendships. Host game nights or movie nights for your kid to enjoy with friends.

Kids Playing together with White Cat
Organize play dates for your child to give them opportunities to socialize in a 1-1 setting.

5. Utilize Online Resources

In today's digital age, there are various online resources and social platforms designed specifically for homeschooled children. These platforms allow them to connect with peers from around the world, fostering a sense of global community. You can even participate in online forums and virtual clubs, where you have the opportunity to meet kids from diverse backgrounds and form meaningful connections.

Girl Smiling While Holding Silver Ipad
Online platforms for learning can feature chats and video communication where kids can interact with others all over the world.

6. Encourage Communication Skills

Teach your child effective communication skills. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings, ask questions, and actively listen. Strong communication skills are essential for forming and maintaining relationships. I notice that as my children improve their communication skills, they become more confident and open when meeting new people, making it easier to forge friendships. The best way to do this is to be aware of your own communication styles and honestly evaluate how you talk to members of your family throughout the day.

A Mother and Daughter Sitting on the Chair while Having Conversation
Instill good communication skills in your kids by being mindful of your own speaking styles. Consider eye contact, tone of voice, gestures, quickness to show frustration, asking questions about the other person, etc.

7.) Be a Stellar Example

It's much harder for a child to be a social butterfly who is completely comfortable in their own skin whoever their own parents are anything but. Do an honest inventory of yourself and determine how comfortable you are in social situations. Do you tend to avoid others if you can help it or avoid speaking up? Consider to what extent your child might pick up on these things, and analyze which of these things might potentially need addressed in your own life! Whether it's anxiety, awkwardness, or just lack of practice, there are so many solutions to help you be a better guiding light for your child. Perhaps something as simple as a habitual mindfulness meditation could be of benefit to you, or maybe even going so far as to seek out counseling. Whatever is holding you back, it's important to note that your child picks up on every little thing they see and hear from you.

Girl Writing on the Paper Photograph
A child's most important teacher is their parent(s). As moms, every action we take is on display–make every one count!

I know firsthand the challenges of homeschooling. When I first started homeschooling my kids, socialization was a major concern for me too. I was worried about how they would make friends and learn those essential interpersonal skills (let's be real, nonverbal cues are a pretty essential life skill). It's normal to have these concerns, but implement these strategies and be at peace with knowing you are giving your kids a rich social foundation in which they can thrive. I've definitely found this to be the case for our crew!

Conclusion

Homeschooling is not inherently bad for your child's socialization skills; rather, you just have to take a different approach to developing those skills. By actively seeking out and creating social experiences for your child, you can ensure they develop strong social skills and build meaningful friendships. Remember, homeschooling doesn't have to mean sacrificing your child's social and emotional development; it simply requires a different approach.

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