5 Tips To Keep Your Homeschooled Kids Socially Connected During COVID
By Guest Author
One of the biggest misconceptions about homeschooling is that kids can’t get the socialization they need to grow and develop into healthy, functioning members of society. There are so many rebuttals to this fear, from enrolling your kids in sports teams to joining homeschool groups. It’s easy to foster homeschool socialization skills if you know where to look.
But now, in the era of COVID, those fears about social deprivation are becoming a real concern for many families, homeschool and public school alike. In a world where gathering in groups compromises community safety, there is a need to figure out how to keep your kids socialized while homeschooling.
While they won’t look the same as they once did, many ways of homeschool socialization will work even in these times. From social distance playdate ideas to digital forms of communication, this modern age makes it easier than ever to connect with people. Here’s how:
1. Arrange a Pen Pal Exchange
Pen pal exchanges are great sources of socialization for your child, especially if they’re on the shy side and take better to quiet forms of interaction. You can set up an exchange with the kids from your homeschool group or find new pen pals for everyone to reach out to if you’re looking for something new. What could be better than a little spark of joy when you get a sweet letter from a new friend?
2. Start a Book Club
Building a distanced community can add to the learning experience and curb the feeling of isolation. Learning in more fun, relaxed ways can add to this experience. Starting a book or film club via video chat with your child’s peers can center extra learning on something they can all enjoy. Let them get carried away and dive deep or even get a little off-topic. This activity can work as a catalyst for wider socializing and homeschooling project ideas.
3. Give Them Some Digital Privacy
This one may be hard, and it may not be for everyone, but sometimes giving kids a bit more privacy in their digital lives can help their social lives blossom. If you’re used to reading their texts, taking their phone every night or only letting them use their devices in common living spaces, now may be the time to ease up.
Consider this — when your kids have playdates, they can go in their room, play outside and generally have a space that feels like their own. Now, they no longer have that.
The mechanics of this situation can make it easy for kids to feel like every minute of their social time is being monitored, through no fault of their own. Naturally, they’ll talk, text and chat with their friends more when they have more freedom to do so on their terms. Just remember to go over the internet safety again with them beforehand.
4. Value Outdoor Time
If you’re looking to go the in-person route, most social distance playdates have one thing in common — the great outdoors. Outdoor time provides many benefits for kids, especially now. Why not get together with your homeschool group or a few choice friends for a socially distant hike or plan an outdoor movie night once a week? You can even incorporate learning activities into your outdoor time by having class outside if it works for your families. This setup can give kids some of the in-person interaction they crave.
In addition, exercise and time outdoors raises energy levels, makes for better moods and improves sleep — so it’s always a great idea for kids and parents alike.
5. Join a Homeschool Group or Co-Op
Just because the world has moved online for the time being, it doesn’t mean your kids can’t still get involved in homeschool groups for other students like them! While homeschool support or co-op groups may not be able to hold in-person meetings, they can still foster a sense of community to help your kids — and you — navigate learning and socializing with virtual group tools, resources and activities.
Keep It Healthy
All you want is for your kids to be happy, healthy and safe — and there are multiple ways to ensure that. Whether they’re sending letters, hiking with friends or video chatting, your family can get familiar with creative homeschool socialization strategies that help everyone grow.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is an education and learning writer who talks about strategies for parents, students, and educators. In addition to running and writing for her own college and career blog, she has her work regularly featured on education sites like HerCampus, CollegeXpress, Collegiate Parent, Student Minds, and more. Follow her work on her website, Syllabusy.