If you are currently homeschooling or considering homeschooling your child, you probably know all the benefits homeschooling can provide. You'll have more control over the curriculum, be able to customize teaching to your child's personal learning style, and avoid the pressures and dangers of public schools. However, are you aware of the major mental and social damage you can cause if you don't make the right choices?
Children need friends. Usually, they meet their friends in school. Take a child out of school, and where will they meet potential play partners? What will the other kids think of your homeschooled child? Like it or not, children in public schools often think that homeschooled children are not in public school because of mental disorders, behavioral problems, or "freaky" parents. Your child might be made fun of or picked on because he isn't considered normal. These challenges must be overcome if you want your child to have a positive social life and be able to function amongst their peers when they get to college.
By deciding to homeschool, it becomes the parent's responsibility to find friendships for the child. This task is just as important as the actual schoolwork. The following tips will get you started towards placing your child on the track of a positive social life.
Know your neighborhood: Start with where you live. How many children close to your child's age live nearby? Do you know the parents? If not, you need to. Seek out parents nearby. Let them know you have a child that you'd like to set up a play date for. Since you're the one initiating these meetings, you're also the one who needs to do the organizing. Have a party. Hire a clown. Invite all the local kids over. Invite other kids and their parents to a ballgame, fishing, bowling, or any other activity that children enjoy. Or even offer to baby-sit.
Sports are important: Next to school, sports teams provide the best environment for your child to form deep bonds with other kids. They spend a lot of time at practice and root for each other in games. Also, you'll be meeting other parents while watching all the games. If your child has physical problems or would embarrass himself on a playing field, get them involved in activities like Boy/Girl Scouts or any other local organization for children.
Let Pop Culture into the Home: Some homeschooling parents maintain strict control over what their child is allowed to listen to on the radio, watch on television, and what they do on the internet. While it is important to keep them away from dangerous situations, it is also important to let them be exposed to the same influences as other children. Remember that your child is already facing an uphill battle to not be considered "weird." Imagine how much worse it would be for them if they didn't know any of the hot bands, cool TV shows, or what type of clothes other kids wear? Without being exposed to mainstream culture, they will have little to talk about with other children and will have a hard time relating to others.
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