Parent Perspectives on Online School Socialization
While receiving a good education is essential for a student’s growth, learning to socialize is equally as important. Being able to interact and communicate well with others is greatly beneficial not only in social settings but also in future real-world situations such as college, interviews, and the workplace. It’s important to establish a strong social foundation early on in your child’s life while he or she can more easily develop social skills.
Understandably, if you’re new to or considering online school, you might have some hesitations about the social aspect of the program. To give you a better idea of how socialization works in virtual school, we’ve gathered some ways that Connections Academy parents socialize their students!*
Get Involved with Your Community
Your community is a great place for your child to build local friendships and practice collaboration. Consider doing some research to find out what opportunities are available in your area through special interest clubs, civic or charitable organizations, recreation councils, or houses of worship. You might be surprised by what you find. Even through volunteer work, children can learn what it takes to be in a leadership position and how to work with others for an important cause.
“In addition to placing significance on their academics, I encourage my kids to be out in the world and experience life in our community. We are very intentional about their interactions and focus on building positive/meaningful relationships with friends. My kids stay active in the community by volunteering weekly at a food bank. They also stay in touch with peers by participating in chess tournaments, attending Bible camp, playing on a golf league, taking music lessons weekly, and spending quality time with family and friends!”
—Jody Abraham, Michigan Connections Academy
Attend Field Trips
Make sure to take advantage of any field trips your school offers. Not only are they fun and educational, but they’re also an exciting way for students to meet classmates and teachers face-to-face. Attending a field trip could be a memorable experience for your student and the beginning of long-lasting friendships!
“We try to attend a local field trip offered by Connections Academy at least twice a month. This way, we get to meet our local families and develop a relationship with them. My son has met quite a few kids whom he now regularly sees thanks to attending the field trips offered by the school. We especially love when they have things like frog dissection, water studies, and planetarium programs! What an awesome way for him to see how what he’s learning in his classes plays out in the ‘real world.'” —Terri Stine, Connections Academy
Participate in Enjoyable Sports and Activities
If your child is interested in a particular sport or hobby, sign him or her up for after-school opportunities. Ask about sports at your local bricks-and-mortar public school, as some districts allow virtual school students to participate in their extracurricular athletic programs. You may also want to investigate recreational leagues in your community. Interacting with other kids who share the same interests will help your student to form positive relationships and bonds. Being part of a team teaches students the importance of working and communicating well in a group setting.
“My daughter has been a Connections Academy student since kindergarten. We fill the socializing aspect with outside activities such as Girl Scouts, bowling, archery, and softball. Your child doesn’t have to go to a traditional bricks-and-mortar school to communicate with other kids or make friends. That’s why extracurricular activities are available.” —Rozanna Eckstein, Oregon Connections Academy
Join a Group for Students Who Learn from Home
If you haven’t already done so, look into a state or local group specifically designed for students just like yours. Participating in this kind of group could be helpful for students who are shy or reserved, as they will most likely feel more comfortable opening up in a relatable situation. Even though the group may not be associated with your school, it can serve as an extension of the virtual school experience.
“We also belong to two local homeschool groups that have other social and learning opportunities. We periodically plan outings and trips with other families.” —Jennifer Pellegrin, Louisiana Connections Academy
Stay Connected Online
Try to be more active on social media. Like the Connections Academy Facebook page to see what’s going on in the school community, or check to see if your school has a private Facebook group and join the conversation. You’ll find that many other online school families are looking to connect, too. You can also arrange get-togethers through meetup.com, a safe and easy way for your child to get in touch with local peers.
“We have joined several Facebook homeschool groups that keep the kids busy every week with other kids.” —Nina Brent, Florida Virtual School Full Time
Even without learning in a physical classroom with other students, your child can have an active social life with your guidance, research, and encouragement! What are some ways you socialize your virtual school student? Share your advice in the comments.