Socialization is one concern that parents have when considering distance learning options for their child. The good news is that children don’t necessarily have to become isolated just because they are not attending traditional schools.
While students primarily learn from attending their classes, it is but one aspect of their whole learning experience. Equally important is the need for students to develop good social skills which will benefit them in life, and they can do this by participating in extracurricular activities. For virtual or homeschooled students, parents need to invest a bit of time and planning since the opportunities to engage in activities outside of academic work are not as readily available as in traditional school settings. However, many virtual public schools provide ways for students to connect through arranged social gatherings. You and your child can decide which activities and events to participate in depending on your interests, goals, values and availability.
Below are just some of the opportunities that you can take advantage of in order to help your student exercise and develop his or her social skills.
Field Trips and In-Person Special Events
Field trips are a great way for your student to socialize and learn at the same time. These can include, but are not limited to, museum tours, nature walks, and visits to the zoo. Whenever possible, make it a point to attend in-person school events as these are great avenues for making new friends and developing friendships with other families in your area.
Outdoor Activities and Sporting Events
Scouting, camping, summer camps, sports teams for basketball, soccer, softball and other sports, even individual sports, are also good opportunities for your child to exercise, stay fit and healthy, learn sportsmanship, and develop leadership skills.
Online School Clubs and Activities
If for any reason your student is unable to join in-person activities, an option for him or her would be to join online school clubs. Some virtual schools offer academic clubs, as well as those targeted towards students’ particular interests, such as literary and arts, science or sports. Student newspapers are also a great way for your budding journalist to develop their writing and reporting skills and socialize with like-minded students at the same time.
Performing Arts Organizations
Is your child interested in acting, singing or dancing? Does he or she play any musical instruments? You might want to check your locality for any performing arts organizations. Joining such groups can provide your student with an avenue for exploring their creativity, enhance his or her skills in the arts, and pave the way for potential friendships.
Volunteer Opportunities and Faith-Based Organizations
Another great way for your child to interact with other people is through volunteering, whether it’s at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and charitable organizations. This allows them to learn compassion for their fellowman. Attending worship services in your chosen religious organization also provides opportunities for your student to serve others and relate with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Internships or Part-time/Summer Jobs
Older students can benefit from engaging in internships or jobs where they can learn important skills that they can bring with them into adulthood while interacting with others in a professional setting. As an intern or employee, your student be given the opportunity to explore potential careers paths.