Tags: Education, Featured Article, Featured Article, In This Issue, Parenting
Football games, academic competitions, school dances – these are important events in a child's life. While these opportunities are readily available to children in public and private schools, they're not necessarily part of the package for homeschooled students. That doesn't mean these opportunities don't exist; it just requires parents be a bit more proactive to find these types of social activities.
If you're an Indianapolis parent who homeschools, or is considering homeschooling, here's some ideas for getting your children in on the fun.
"One of the biggest areas of concern for homeschooled kids is missing out on the opportunity to participate in organized sports," says Shawn Moore, principal at Indianapolis' Northpoint, a school that offers classes two days a week to homeschooled students. While Northpoint itself offers students a selection of varsity sports, Moore says homeschooled kids can also take advantage of community leagues and offerings at organizations like the YMCA.
Spelling bees, debate team, science fairs…all are a quintessential part of the school experience, and many parents might be concerned their homeschooled kids are missing out. "Don't be," says Steph Black, director of Indy Homeschool, an online community for families in the Indianapolis area. "Many national competitions are open to homeschoolers as well. Scripps National Spelling Bee and Science Olympiad are two of the many choices available."
In addition, with the number of homeschooled students steadily growing, opportunities geared for them are increasing as well. Explains Moore: "Homeschool is becoming more and more popular, and considered an option for families that may not have thought of this option before. This is creating more students out there to compete with."
Ah, the dreaded class presentation – a vivid memory among many students. Don't worry – your homeschooled kid can have plenty of opportunities to face his peers. If your child enrolls in part-time classes, he or she will probably give many presentations. In fact, this "blended" route is becoming very popular with homeschoolers, allowing them to mix homeschool with more traditional classes.
Moore adds that local clubs exist that gather to work on public speaking skills. "These mainly meet at libraries and are usually on a bi-weekly basis or once a month." Check with your local library for class listings.
Dances, fieldtrips, hanging out with friends – these experiences can be just as important as Biology class. Luckily, homeschooled students can be a part of all these things.
"Most homeschooled kids, in a traditional setting, may miss out on opportunities to socialize," says Moore, "but they don't have to." He explains that many groups connect by organizing field trips to places such as The Children's Museum or the Indianapolis Zoo. Dances are generally coordinated by parents, and offered at a local church or other venues. Black adds that homeschooling websites and online forums are great ways for parents and students to find, or even organize, social events.
Additionally, if your child attends some type of part-time school, they will likely have access to all of the activities that other students do. "At Northpoint, we offer field trips that are organized with a purpose and a structure. We also offer multiple dances over the course of the year with the intent of the homeschooler to feel like they aren't missing out on any opportunity afforded to them elsewhere," says Moore.
As a parent, the decision to homeschool means a lot of time, energy, and commitment – from you. In order to make sure your child is getting the social time they need, you will have to connect with other parents, be willing to initiate activities and even consider enrolling your child in a class or two. The Internet makes this easy, as many homeschool groups are organized on Facebook, and there are also several websites dedicated to helping homeschooling families get together.
"Parental involvement is the key to making homeschooling work," say Moore. "Parents need to be as connected as possible to take the learning process to the next level."