The Social Scene For Homeschooled Teens
I have been asking readers their concerns about homeschool. Sometimes parents worry that teens educated in the home may miss out on prom and other activities. Layla Lair was wondering if I had any suggestions on things homeschooled teens could do to stay social and continue to develop relationships.
Like teens in a traditional school setting, homeschooled teens also can participate in team sports. Sports are great for social skills. Teens not only learn how to work with others, but they may also find lasting friendships. Many areas have teams for homeschooled teens. However, they also are often allowed to play on local high school teams or other co-ed teams that are open to all teens, regardless of schooling method. This actually gives a homeschooled teen more choices in some instances.
Volunteer work is not only a very noble and useful act, but it can also add to the social life of a teen. Depending on the type of volunteer work, teens may interact with people that are a wide range of ages, including their own. This gives valuable work and even friendship experiences. Plus teens will come away from something like this knowing they've made a difference in someone else's life. Homeschooled teens may have more options to choose from when it comes to volunteer work because their school schedule could be more flexible.
Afterschool Clubs & Organizations
Afterschool clubs and organizations are not restricted to teens in traditional school. Homeschooled teens can attend these social gatherings and activities as well. Organizations that provide great social, physical, and educational activities, such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, are open to everyone.
Just like a teen in traditional school may get an afterschool job to earn college funds or simply to learn responsibility, so can a homeschooled teen. This not only provides valuable work ethics and experience, but it also can be a great social environment. In many job settings, teens will come across a variety of people every day.
Community College Classes
Because homeschooled teens have a flexible schedule, this leaves many open to taking extra courses at the community college. This is excellent for earning college credits, but homeschooled teens can also use this as an extra social opportunity.
Homeschooling allows for more flexibility as far as where school takes place. For many homeschool families, school is not always about the books. Of course, it has to be for some things, but homeschooled teens have the opportunity to learn things through doing them versus only reading about them in a book. For instance, when learning about certain things in natural science, a homeschooled teen could study the natural environment.
When learning about other things, the teen may go to a museum tour, take an extra course outside the home, or the parent may hire an expert to give a lecture. Children in traditional school do this with some things as well, but a homeschooled teen has more freedom and opportunity to do this with many more lessons. In doing many of these things, there will be social interaction.
Church Clubs & Activities
If the homeschooled teen happens to be one of certain faiths, he or she may belong to a church. Many will have classes, activities, clubs, and events that the teen can get involved in. Some of these might include choir, praise dancing, drama, Sunday school, or even volunteering. By joining church activities and clubs, the teen can add another opportunity for social interaction with peers.
Prom and Other Teen Activities
Many worry that their teen will not have a prom or be able to attend school games or other events if they are homeschooled. This does not have to be a reality. Not only do many homeschool organizations and groups hold events like these for homeschooled teens, but they may also get invited to the events at the local high schools. A homeschooled teen may have friends that attend the local high school and most will allow students to bring along someone from another school. This includes homeschooled kids.
Homeschool Group Activities
Some families who homeschool choose to join homeschool groups. These are groups of people who also homeschool their children. They meet a certain number of times each week or month for social activities, field trips, events, and more.
Homeschool co-ops are when parents of homeschooled children hold various classes for the children at scheduled times. One parent is generally assigned to each subject and the group agrees to meet at a specified time a certain number of times per week or month. Some homeschool co-ops are meant as a supplement to what the children are learning at home, as well as a way for the children to socially interact with each other. Yet others are used much in the same way as traditional school.
Family as Friends
Some teens may have one or more siblings or relatives they spend time with frequently. While these friends are part of the family, they still can be considered and do have an important role in social interaction. Whether a friend or group of friends comes from inside or outside the family, interacting with them adds to the overall social skills of a teen. The same is true for the parent-child relationship. Varied relationships and opportunities put together create a great social network for a teen.
Ordinary Teen Activities
A homeschool teen is still a teen, just like a public school kid is a teen and a private school kid is a teen. They are all individuals, hopefully not defined only by which type of school they attend. On that same note, teens do not have to attend the same school or even the same type of school to maintain a friendship. Ordinary teen social activities, such as hanging out with friends, going to the mall, going to movies, and more are all activities you might see a teenager doing.
A homeschooled teen is no different in this regard. If they had friends before starting homeschool, those friends don't automatically disappear. If the teen has been homeschooled all his or her life, there are (and likely already were) plenty of opportunities to make friends, such as at any of the activities listed above, interacting with neighbors, and much more.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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When you make the choice to homeschool your children, there are many things to consider. As a mom who has homeschooled, I’ve experienced the possible answers to many of the questions you may have on your mind. Below, you will see the questions, along with what I feel are the best answers, based on our experiences. In addition to being a mother of homeschoolers, I have also studied extensively on the subject and feel confident in the answers I have provided below.
Q: How do I get started with homeschooling and who do I contact to inform of my decision?
A: Depending on the city or county you live in, the rules will be different. In many states, you will need to inform the school district, usually at their main office. In a few states, such as Texas, homeschooling is considered to be a private school and you need not inform anyone. In Texas, if your child attended traditional school before your choice to homeschool, you should inform the child's school that the child will now be homeschooled, so they can update their records and your child will not be considered truant. Nothing else is needed. Texas is often considered the best place to homeschool because of homeschools being considered private school.
For more information on what to do in your state, please click here.
Q: Is homeschooling legal?
A: Yes. Homeschooling is perfectly legal, in the United States. However, some restrictions and regulations apply and the laws are always changing, so be sure to check the law for your specific state.
Q: What is required for instruction?
A: All states have different subject and hour requirements, but most will include math, history, science, character development, reading and language, and US Government or Constitution. Check your state's requirements.
Q: What is the best curriculum?
A: The best curriculum will actually depend on the individual child.Research should be done to determine which curriculum is appropriate according to each child's individual needs as well as instructional needs. Remember to have a good balance between what your child enjoys, what is required to be learned at his or her age, as well as what will cater to any disabilities or constraints, such as ADHD or low attention span.
Also remember to cater to a variety of learning methods. A well-rounded lesson should include oral instruction, hands-on instruction, verbal practice, and visual stimulation. In other words, the child needs to hear it, see it, do it, speak it, and write it. For children weak in any of those areas, this will strengthen those weaknesses, as well as form a better understanding. All children will respond to at least one of the methods, but rather than focusing on only the method the child responds well to, it is best to give the child practice at all of them.
Q: What about socialization?
A: Socialization is often a great misconception. As with in traditional school, homeschoolers still have plenty of opportunities to socialize. There are often more opportunities to socialize in homeschool than traditional school. Many homeschoolers encourage social interaction more than a parent of a traditionally-schooled child simply because of the (often) false concern surrounding homeschool and socialization.
More On Socialization:
Homeschool Myths: Kids Who Homeschool Have Poor Social Skills
Homeschooling to Get Positive Social Interaction?
Q: What if I want to write/customize my own curriculum to each child, but don't know what is required for each subject and grade level?
A: You can check the website for the Department of Education in your state. Every state lists the requirements this way. Each state has different requirements, so be sure to check the correct state.
Q: Is homeschooling the best method?
A: The best method will vary for each student and parent. While homeschooling may be ideal for one family, another family may get better results in a public or private school. Things to consider are time, expenses, willingness of parent to teach effectively and efficiently, willingness of student to cooperate with parent during lessons, willingness of parent to provide socialization opportunities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dedication to study (by parent as well as child), ability to provide proper instruction and materials, and many more things.
Write down everything you will need for homeschooling, along with all of your child's special needs and the requirements for his or her grade level. If you can meet all those challenges, your family is ready for homeschool. Even if you have only met a few, if you know that it is possible for your family to fill in the other spots, you are still ready. However, if there are problems with any areas, you may want to consider private tutoring, private school, or public school. While homeschooling provides a great opportunity, if it is not taken seriously, any opportunity it would have provided is lost.
See also: Homeschool: Are You the Right Parent for the Job?
Q: Are homeschooled children allowed to participate in team sports?
A: Yes. There are many teen sports that are especially for homeschooled children. However, if you would like your children to participate with kids in all types of school environments, try having them join sports teams offered by the local YMCA or Parks & Recreational Department. Another option that is sometimes allowed is for homeschooled children to join the sports team of the school they would normally attend if they were in public school. Some schools allow this and some do not. Check with your local school for this information and for tryout information, should they approve of a homeschooler joining their leagues.
Q: My child is in middle or high school. What about proms, diplomas, and graduation requirements?
A: In some states, homeschooled children will graduate and attend proms and other events right along with traditionally high schooled children. However, there are other options such as homeschool group graduations, proms, and events. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for the child and what works for the family. A homeschool diploma can also be made on your home computer, but be careful to also create transcripts. If this part will be too difficult for you, consider using a service that caters to homeschoolers. These services make transcripts and diplomas for you. One such service is VDM Educator Services. This is a website with diploma and transcript templates for the parent to easily fill out and print.
Also, a homeschooled child still must take and pass ACT and SAT tests in high school in order to graduate.
Q: What standardized tests must my child take every year?
A: Depending on your state, this will vary. But, usually beginning in grade 3 a child would take the state standardized test required of all students, This test would be taken each year thereafter. (In Texas, this is likely the TAKS or TEKS. In Colorado, it will likely be the CSAP.) Contact your state's Department of Education for dates and times for homeschooled children to be tested and for information on whether it is required or not. If it is not a requirement, it is still a good idea to have your child/ren take the test. It will be a good indicator for you as to whether your child is getting proper instruction or not.
Disclaimer: While the author believes the above answers to be true and correct, neither the author, nor the website where this is published claims responsibility for the information provided. It is the parent's responsibility to properly research this information when deciding to homeschool. This article serves only as a starting point for parents considering homeschool. Everything contained herein, as well as any other concerns and questions a party may have about homeschool should be properly researched with the appropriate entities.
Ask Lyn about other homeschool concerns.
*This author welcomes feedback and discussion in the comments below.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Personal Experience and Research on Homeschooling and Socialization
As the concept of homeschooling continues to ease back into the mainstream, where it began, more and more questions and myths seem to follow. One myth that is very often assumed of homeschooled kids is that they do not have proper social skills or don't interact with others. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about my children or homeschool in general in relation to socialization, I'd likely be rich. Unfortunately for my wallet, that isn't the case.
While at first thought, considering the fact that school is often assumed to be done only inside the home, it seems that a social environment may be unavailable. However, a homeschooled child may actually have more opportunity than others to gain positive social skills and interact with people. One reason for this is that because of the flexibility in class scheduling, as well as the unique opportunity to learn whenever or wherever desired, homeschoolers are often around a variety of people during the day.
In fact, in a study published by the NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute), homeschool students had scores in social skills that were higher than those of kids in public schools. As a homeschool parent, this study doesn't surprise me at all, as I observed positive social results from homeschool in my children who previously attended public school, as well as those who homeschooled exclusively at first.
One way children who attend a homeschool can interact is through activities. THis may include dance classes, religious activities (if applicable), Girl Scouts, 4H, sports, extra classes, YMCA, rec center memberships, and much more. Any activity available to a public or private school student is also available to a home school student.
However, homeschooled students actually have an advantage in this area because they can join activities that public schooled children also have available, as well as join homeschool-specific activities. These activities can be utilized at any time of the day because of the versatility of rearranging the academic schedule around them.
Some homeschooled kids also take academic and elective classes outside of the home. This gives them the chance to be around their peers and if the classes are taken in addition to classes they learn at home, it also gives them an academic boost.
Many homeschool families also plan a good amount of field trips. When homeschooling, there is the versatility of being able to plan a field trip for every unit of study, if desired. Field trips will generally involve a diverse public scene, which is great for socialization, as this is how the real world is.
A good number of homeschooling families opt for yearly passes or membership to museums, zoos, and other educational places. In some states, like Texas, home schools who are members of a homeschool group, association, or organization can get a teacher or educator discount at many of the field trip locations.
Speaking of home school groups, that's another way homeschooled children can interact with peers. These groups, associations, and organizations often plan parties, book sales, curriculum exchanges, field trips, play dates, fairs, and other social events where the children will interact with each other. According to the HSLDA, the average homeschooled child is involved in about 5.2 social activities. 98% are involved in at least 2 activities.
Many homeschooling families also get active in library events, such as story time, craft classes, and educational classes. A day time trip to the grocery store where a homeschooled child uses math to purchase groceries and communicates with the cashier can be a mini social event as well.
There are many events like these in a homeschooler's life, as many of them believe in using every opportunity possible to learn lessons and to communicate with others. Because of this, a child in home school is likely to possess excellent teamwork skills, which are very necessary in college and in the workforce.
As you can see, homeschooled children will be exposed to many social environments throughout their homeschooling experience. Because of the flexibility in homeschooling and the availability of so many activities and opportunities, homeschooled children will be around a variety of age groups, races, and other socioeconomic backgrounds, possibly more so than children in a traditional school setting.
Even the ones who do the majority of their schooling in the home are likely still involved in activities, as well as playing and interacting with friends and relatives, which still gives them social experience.
From all of the information above, as well as personal experience and study, I would have to conclude that homeschooled children actually have a social advantage over those in public or private school, not a disadvantage, as is often mistakenly assumed.
For those interested in homeschooling or just interested in finding out more information and research on homeschooling, I recommend that you visit the following links, do your own research, as well as talk to other homeschoolers to see what they’re doing.
Recommended Research and Info Sources:
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute)
NHELD (National Home Education Legal Defense)
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)
HSLDA 1997 Study on Social Skills in Homeschooled Kids
NHERI Volume 17 Study on Homeschooled Childrens’ Social Skills
I am also available for many homeschooling questions at Ask Lyn.
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**Questions? Have something to say or add? This author welcomes feedback and discussion in the comments section below.
***I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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