Overview: Homeschool socialization doesn’t have to be any more of a thing in high school than it is at any other age. Here are 100 ways to make it happen!
Someone corrected me about my wording recently. She defined “socialization” as “the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.” So, she asserted, instead of discussing ways to “socialize” our teens, what we should really be talking about is ways to provide “social” activities for our teens.
She probably has a valid point.
But here’s mine in return: lotsa people use the word “socialization” as a negative buzzword when it comes to homeschooling. So whether we are aware of the correct definition of the term or are confusing it with just being social, I think we still must realize that the outside world needs to be educated on both.
Socialization, or just being social?
What the concern seems to be is that teens won’t be socialized OR social if they are homeschooled. They won’t be socialized because they won’t have sufficient opportunities to practice being social — see what I did there? lol — so they won’t learn how to behave acceptably with peers and others. Actually, they won’t be able to be social AT ALL, because they’ll be stuck at home all the time.
Either or both, really, is where the concern lies, so I don’t think we need to get too nitpicky about the term we’re using. The world outside of homeschooling just doesn’t understand either way, and we might buy into what they’re saying because we aren’t used to thinking about things any other way. My job here is to dispel the myths and give us practical ideas to work with. So let’s do that.
We all know — or if we don’t, then let me help, lol — that discussing whether homeschooled elementary or middle school kids are “socialized” is actually pretty silly. Kids at that age who are homeschooled are no less able to converse or interact than kids from brick-and-mortar schools. In fact, they usually have more opportunities to be social with people from all different stages of life, rather than being segregated into age groups. They also don’t have the negative influences that can often be found by being forced to spend time with kids who have difficulty with self-control or who are just plain not nice.
Yet even though we understand that about our younger kids, we can often think our teens need more social-ness (there, is that a decent compromise? lol) than they used to when they were smaller. And frankly, I think that might be true.
I personally believe that teens DO have a larger need (or maybe just a desire, but it’s a strong one) for relationships and interaction, especially with other teens. They want friendships. They want to get out of the house. They like activity. They get bored easily. They crave discussions with people their own age about movies, music, clothes, electronics, airsoft, whatever. Their younger siblings just don’t cut it for this purpose anymore. And the parents are just embarrassing, lol. They (WE) don’t know much these days, am I right? :-)
So what do we do about this? If we want to homeschool high school, we can be worried that our kids won’t get the socialization OR opportunities to be social that they need to be well-rounded individuals. We’re concerned that if we don’t send them to school, they won’t learn how to interact with other teens, or to navigate boy-girl issues, or to find that one close friend like the one we used to have. (If we had one. Did you? I did not, and I turned out fairly ok. So why worry about it? Just sayin’…)
Related Reading: Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School
The good news is that this is a very fixable issue, one that we don’t need to be overwhelmed about. If homeschooling high school is important to us, then we can find a way around this concern — and I’m here today to do just that! My job, as I see it, is to ease ALL the fears about homeschooling high school. This is one we can take care of pretty easily.
Homeschool socialization for high school – how to make it happen
One thing may be true, and that is that mom may need to put forth some effort to bring about homeschool socialization during the high school years. If the teen does not have enough naturally-occurring interaction with other teens, then mom may need to take some initiative.
Look around in your area for clubs, sports, volunteering opportunities, places to work, etc. that your teen might be interested in. Maybe facilitate something yourself, if you see a gap and are willing to fill it. Reach out to other moms of teens. Organize a group for skating or to go to a movie. Offer to drive your teen to where they want to go, if they are unable to get themselves there.
Related: How to Easily Start a Teen Homeschool Co-op
But don’t feel guilty if you can’t do everything. If facilitating is NOT your cup of tea, don’t feel like you have to. There is enough going on out there in this world for your teen to do that doesn’t run you ragged or take you too far outside your comfort zone. I live very rurally, and I’m a fairly lazy person — and if I can give my kids social opportunities, then so can just about anyone!
Sometimes we do have to evaluate if our comfort zone needs adjusting; for instance, I do have to be willing to drive an hour each way to co-op once a week, when I would of course rather only drive much less. But other times we can legitimately say no and look for something that fits the needs of ALL of us better.
What are some possibilities for the types of homeschool socialization — or social — activities that your teen might enjoy? Well, I might just have a few ideas. *sly grin* *like a Grinch grin* *except GOOD ideas, not wonderful, awful ones*
100 Socialization/Social Activities for Homeschooled Teens
I asked the members of my Facebook group, It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, to list what their kids do for socialization/social activities. Surely there is something on this list that would fit your kid, something that you can handle making it possible for them. Take a look:
- tech club, IT club, robotics, STEM challenges club
- local library events — gaming, teen advisory board
- team sports — all kinds!! Football, softball, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, etc. — even curling, roller derby, and water polo were mentioned. There are local homeschool teams, travel teams, or recreational leagues; in some states they can participate at the public school. Sports are basically everywhere in some way, shape, or form.
- individual sports — gymnastics, track, cross country, swimming, bowling, archery, fencing, surfing, power skating, tennis
- getting a job, whether only during the summer or part-time year-round
- church activities — youth group, worship choir/band, drama team, Awana, handbells, Royal Rangers, youth retreats, Bible quiz team, missions trip, Young Life, lunch after service (lol)
- summer camp — whether as an attendee or a counselor
- Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venture scouts (co-ed)
- roller skating, ice skating
- 4H, also dairy and livestock judging
- classes at the local craft store — art, cake decorating, sewing, knitting, crochet
- homeschool co-op classes and activities
- martial arts of all kinds
- dance — swing dance, ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom
- clubs built around a school subject — history, science, geography, math
- community theater — acting, stage hand, sound, lights
- clubs built around an interest — chess, books, writing, board games, Dungeons & Dragons, rock climbing, ukelele, Rubik’s cube, welding
- activities built around shooting — airsoft wars, nerf battles, paint ball, laser tag, gun range
- dual enrollment
- yard or field games — kick the can, flag football, ghost in the graveyard, frisbee football, capture the flag
- recreational swimming at community pool or beach
- mini golf
- hosting a foreign exchange student or Fresh Air Fund kid
- fall fest, hayride
- group texting, Skype, Google hangouts
- teen events at homeschool conference
- political activism
- dog training (including service dogs), dog showing
- working the family business
- X-box live, online video games
- homeschool prom
- leadership programs — Toastmasters, Teen Pact, Kiwanis Key Club, Beta Club, Patriot Academy, Trail Life USA,
- 5K runs
- study groups
- mock trial, speech and debate
- community education classes — Spanish, photography, sign language
- field trips
- park days
- Science Olympiad
- escape room
- going to a movie
- meeting for ice cream or coffee
- yardwork party
- car wash
- U-pick apples, berries
- going to a museum, aquarium, historical site
- star gazing, comet watching
- hanging out at the mall, shopping
- science labs for school
- classes at the zoo
- Civil War reenacting
- boating clubs — rowing, sailing
- group travel
- participating in parades
- horseback riding lessons, equestrian team
- gym membership, exercise classes, yoga
- career night
- National League of Junior Cotillions
- going to a video game arcade
- making and selling a product
- “extreme” sports — indoor sky diving, parkour
- hosting a food-based activity — ice cream social, potluck dinner, chili cook-off, tea party, progressive dinner, mystery dinner, make-your-own pizza, Christmas cookie baking/exchange, picnic
- jumping at the local trampoline center
- biking, mountain biking
- vegetable gardening
- scavenger hunt
- hiking, wild edible foraging (just be sure they know what they’re looking for! Yikes!)
- river stomping — I’m not sure what this is, but it sounds fun, lol.
- music lessons — piano, violin, guitar, voice, drums, basically any instrument you can think of
- community youth music groups — orchestra, band, choir
- making videos
- American Heritage Girls
- YMCA — classes, sports, whatever else
- Department of Conservation youth activities, nature/environmental progam at local farm
- teen military clubs — Sea Cadets, Civil Air Patrol
- Police Explorers, Fire Explorers
- being a penpal
- volunteer work — library, humane shelter, soup kitchen, food bank, senior center, crisis pregnancy center, Sunday School/VBS, Ronald McDonald House, wildlife refuge, petting zoo, babysitting for women’s event, post office, fire station, community service projects
- camps based on a particular interest — space camp, art camp, music camp, sports camp
- inviting another family over for board games, card games, lunch, dinner, a movie — whatever!
- acting lessons
- babysitting, pet sitting
- community youth Bible study
- meet to run, walk, or do an exercise video
- online classes
- attending a concert, sports event, musical, rodeo
- having a party — costume, birthday, halloween, Christmas, graduation, end-of-school-year
- crafting get-together — stamping, Christmas ornaments
- trick-or-treating, Christmas caroling, Easter egg hunt
- phone texting, social media
- snowboarding, skiing, sledding, snowball fights
- just hanging out! Not to be overlooked, lol.
Phew! And there you have it, 100 ways for your teen to spend time with other teens, or at least with people outside their own family. They will get socialized AND be social, lol! AND you can count many of these for credit! How about that? Woot!
Related Reading: Planning High School Electives for Your Homeschool
Homeschool socialization doesn’t have to be any more of a thing in high school than it does at any other age. It may take a little more thought and effort to make it happen, but with all of these ideas to work with, don’t let that worry you! Pick one or two and see if they pan out. If not, there are plenty more to choose from!
P.S. This post is actually an excerpt from my new book, which will (hopefully) be out in early 2019! Stay tuned! If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe to my emails by grabbing the 100 Ways to Encourage Your Teen in the right sidebar. Then you’ll be one of the first to know when the book is ready! UPDATE: It’s published! See it here: Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School – Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation.
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