How can I help my homeschooled child build social skills?
When I was younger, I dreamed of some day taking my family on a boat trip around the world and homeschooling (boatschooling?) my children along the way. I would put my anthropology minor to good use and pass on my love of the sea and all things nautical. I’d make friends with sailors and locals all over the globe while teaching my kids through one-of-a-kind, real-world experiences.
My vision of homeschooling did not become a reality. But I still consider it essential to have my children get out and interact with the world. I agree with the homeschoolers who argue that homeschooled children may actually develop better social skills because they spend a lot of time interacting with people of different ages. Socializing is as much about being a part about your community as it is about spending time with your peers.
Most parents, whether they homeschool or not, want their children to be able to make friends, interact kindly and be accepted by people around them. Here are a few suggestions on how help homeschooled children work on these skills:
Crib from school curriculum. Look for teaching aids that are designed to help your child learn social skills. There are lots of these tools out there. They’re often used by teachers and behavioral therapists. Ask your local school district if it can suggest a good curriculum.
Be a role model. Whether you’re shopping at a farmers market or asking a librarian to help you research a topic, you can use these interactions to show your child how to behave around other people. Kids with learning and thinking differences often need very explicit instruction. This means you may need to point out specifics such as how to begin a conversation and how to end it. Practice these skills with your child and offer positive feedback.
Join group activities. Join or create homeschool study groups where children can work together toward common goals or on specific projects. Check with your public library. It may provide some activities that are geared for homeschoolers. Sports teams, drama clubs and other extracurricular activities are also good options.
Use social networking. This can be a good way to supplement your child’s offline interactions. Social networks can also help you find other homeschooling families in your area. And you can reach out to our online community to find families near you whose kids have learning and thinking differences.