Online Clubs and Activities Help Virtual School Students Socialize
Attending class is a fundamental part of school, but it’s only one facet of a student’s experience. Another important way children can grow both personally and socially is by participating in extracurricular clubs and activities.
For example, some schools offer a Newspaper Club in which students can collaborate to publish a student newspaper. Schools might also offer independent extracurricular activities, such as a Music Contest that encourages students to submit their own songs and album cover art.
If virtual education is new to you, you might worry that your student will miss out on the social interaction of these in-person clubs and activities. But the Newspaper Club and Music Contest mentioned above are actually offered at Connections Academy—just virtually!
You may be surprised to learn that some virtual schools, like Connections Academy, make student interaction and collaboration a priority, because educators realize that socialization is vital to a child’s development. Full-time programs usually provide several ways for kids to socialize and build personal relationships, such as:
- Real-time teacher-to-student and student-to-student interactions in the online classroom
- Field trips and special events where teachers, students, and Learning Coaches connect in person
- Online clubs and activities that allow virtual school students to connect and collaborate with fellow students across the country who share their interests.
While your child may think these experiences are purely for fun, they also provide valuable opportunities to grow and exercise communication, leadership, negotiation, and other social skills needed throughout life.
If you’re considering making the switch to virtual school, or if you’re deciding whether your online student should get involved in clubs and activities, you probably have some questions. To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most frequently asked questions—and our answers—concerning the benefits of participating in online clubs and activities.
Q: Why should my child get involved in a club or activity?
A: Besides being a lot of fun, virtual school clubs and activities can provide the needed socialization element that concerns many parents. Activities also benefit students by providing an avenue for pursuing passions and exploring new endeavors. As they share their common interests, students may collaborate, compete, exchange ideas, and learn teamwork and leadership skills—all while they enjoy friendly social interaction.
Clubs and activities can also have a positive effect on student achievement. A study by The National Federation of State High School Associations showed that students who are involved perform better academically and develop skills and work habits that will pay off later in life. They are also more likely to continue their educations. For elementary school children, extracurricular programs contribute to a well-rounded learning experience and help nurture initiative, integrity, imagination, self-knowledge, and interpersonal skills.
Q: What kind of clubs can be participated in virtually?
A: Many online programs are similar to the kinds of extracurricular activities you might find in a brick-and-mortar setting. For example, at Connections Academy, we offer a variety of academic clubs, Chess Club, Robotics Club, Literary and Art Clubs, a student newspaper, and more.
Q: What’s an online school club like?
A: In an online school club, students can interact with peers who share similar interests. There is an expectation from both the club leader and other members that all students will actively participate. In fact, some students are more likely to participate at a higher level in an online environment, for any number of reasons. The difference is that it all takes place online. Students still “get together” to pursue an interest or collaborate on a project, but it’s done via real-time web conferencing from the comfort of your home. (Many parents appreciate having activities that don’t require “Mom’s Taxi Service.”)
Q: Will joining a club help my child do better in school?
A: Student clubs aren’t necessarily designed to boost performance in a particular academic area, but they do give students a reason to be engaged in school outside of their academic work and strengthen creative-thinking and problem-solving skills. They also reward student enthusiasm for subjects they want to pursue in greater depth outside the classroom.
In many online school clubs, a teacher facilitates and there is something to learn and something active for a student to do to participate, whether it’s writing an article for the student newspaper, playing in a chess tournament, or completing a scientific experiment. If the student is interested and enthusiastic, it’s going to be a good supplement to his or her coursework.
Q: How do parents choose the right club or extracurricular activity?
A: A lot depends on whether the student is interested in a club in the first place—so be sure to ask! Think about the things your child likes to do and the subjects that interest him or her. After all, Debate Club is a great way to develop reasoning, logic, and research skills—but if the student isn’t interested in debate, it’s just going to be another obligation. Clubs and Activities activities offer students the opportunity to explore things they think they may be interested in, thereby offering students the chance to explore different types interests.
Q: Won’t extracurricular activities take time away from my student’s daily school work?
A: There’s always a risk that pursuits outside of course studies will end up being a distraction. But if a student is interested in a club, it’s probably worth trying. Before committing to an activity, take a look at your child’s schedule to make sure there’s enough time. Learning Coaches should make sure students understand that schoolwork comes first, and they can use the club as a reward for keeping up and performing well.
How do you ensure your online student has the right amount of socialization? Have virtual clubs and activities helped your child grow? If you have any tips for other families, please share your brightest ideas as comments below.