The socialization question has been around forever. It’s a question we can really get tired of as homeschool moms. It’s also a question that tends to stick in the back of our minds and sometimes makes us second guess our choices.
If you’re homeschooling an only child, you’re probably uniquely familiar with this question. You might even have your own approach to socialization and providing social opportunities.
Keep reading to discover my take on socialization and providing opportunities to practice social skills when you’re homeschooling an only child. Plus, get some great ideas to help you tackle the socialization question when it comes up.
The Socialization Question
The socialization question has been around since the beginning and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Homeschool moms across the country are always asking and answering this big question. The truth is, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the “what about socialization?” question.
Quite often the socialization question comes from a place of curiosity and confusion. Curiosity about what it means to homeschool and what it looks like in practice. There’s also a lot of confusion about what socialization actually means.
Most of us practice socialization in lots of ways with our children every day. There are opportunities in our community, in our homes, and everywhere!
By definition, socialization means teaching our kids how to be kind, behave politely, understand and explain their beliefs, and interact in a way that’s culturally appropriate. If we first understand that, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that we are already providing socialization lessons and skills practice every day.
As homeschool moms, if we are providing our children with information and opportunities to practice these skills:
- How to live in a culturally healthy way
- How to understand and define their beliefs
- How to behave politely and compassionately
Then, we are helping them to master socialization skills while homeschooling.
Are Homeschooled Only Children At Greater Risk Of Social Issues?
The short answer is no. Homeschooled only children aren’t at risk of developing social issues simply because they are only children. Some kids struggle socially (regardless of their sibling count) and some kids don’t. Research has never shown that homeschoolers of any type are at greater risk for socialization issues.
How can you make sure your homeschooled only child has lots of opportunities to practice socialization skills and develop friendships? The easiest way to do that is to get them involved in their local community. Get out of the house and you’ll have lots of natural opportunities for socialization.
Socialization happens naturally in the real world. Things like talking to the cashier at the grocery store, asking for help finding a book at the library, asking questions at a museum, or thanking the mail person for dropping off the mail. These all count as socializing opportunities!
Ways To Help Your Only Child Develop Friendships
There are lots of ways you can help give your only child opportunities to develop friendships and find their tribe as you homeschool. Check out some of the ways we do to get our daughter involved and interacting with other kids her age:
Live Online Classes
Live online classes from sites like Outschool help us break up our homeschool routine and add in some really fun learning opportunities we might otherwise miss. These online group classes also provide opportunities to meet and talk with other kids her age. It’s a great way for Emily to interact with other kids who share her interests.
Discover online classes we love from Outschool, SQUILT, You ARE an Artist, and more in my article all about using online courses in our homeschool lessons.
Many local museums and attractions offer homeschool days. These are usually days or times when they are open to the homeschooling community exclusively or at a discounted rate. Beyond giving you the opportunity to check out a cool new attraction, you can use homeschool days for field trips.
Homeschool days are also a great opportunity to meet other local homeschoolers for you and your child. Who knows, she might just discover a new friend who shares her interest in art or wild animals.
If you haven’t thought about joining a co-op, I’d encourage you to check out local co-ops as a way to help provide a sense of community for your whole family. There are all kinds of different homeschool co-ops and you’re sure to find one that works well for your family.
Co-ops are groups of homeschooling families that work together to help provide their children with new opportunities in the form of special classes, field trips, projects, and social activities. These groups range in size from just a few families to several hundred children.
We are currently participating in gymnastics. There are all kinds of sports opportunities for children and many teachers and coaches even offer special classes or teams just for homeschooled children. Whether you’re taking gymnastics or dance classes, joining a local wrestling club, or playing softball or basketball with the local Parks & Recreation team… sports are an excellent way for your kids to interact with other kids their age.
There are all kinds of benefits to having your children participate in sports: healthy physical activity, learning good sportsmanship, etc. On top of that, playing sports can provide a framework for interaction for kids that might be shy or struggle socially.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops are open to all children in the community which often makes them a great fit for homeschool kids. You can find a local troop to participate in here:
Wild + Free Groups
Wild + Free groups are made up of homeschooling moms and kids who come together for all kinds of outings and gatherings. In a wild + free group, families share their love of nature and wonder over creation together. There are play groups, nature outings, field trips, book clubs, and more. It’s a great way to meet a community of like minded moms for yourself and introduce your only child to lots of other kids she can explore and learn with throughout the year.
In the end, just being out in your community offers lots of opportunities to practice socialization. Your weekly trip to the grocery store, an outing to the post office, and even eating dinner at a restaurant are great ways to practice appropriate social skills with your child.
Additional Resources For Homeschooling An Only Child
Check out these additional resources and videos for even more information about the big socialization question and how your only child can thrive with homeschooling:
- Can I Really Homeschool an Only Child?
- Top Myths About Homeschooling an Only Child
- When Homeschooling an Only Child is Hard
- Homeschooling an Only Child for the First Time
Share your favorite ways to answer the socialization question in the comment section. I’d love to read more about how you approach socialization with your homeschool child and your favorite tips for providing fun social opportunities too.