"Socialization" is one of the most common fears for any family contemplating homeschooling their child. This is the wrong word and concept, though. Dogs and cats are socialized. Humans are taught how to interact with others, ideally, their peers of the same age and socioeconomic background, and others who are not like them. Homeschooling can seem like isolating your child, but it really doesn’t have to end up like that. In fact, because of the nature of homeschool groups and activities, homeschoolers often successfully interact with a wide variety of people.
Children can still develop their "socialization" skills in many other ways if they don’t go to public or private schools. Kids tend to learn their best socialization skills from activities they do with their own families, not from following the in-crowd at school. In fact, when my daughter was in public school for 2-1/2 years, we constantly heard that she spent too much time socializing. When I'd visit her school at lunchtime, kids were often told where to sit, when to talk, and quite often, her class had lost the privilege of socializing.
When homeschooling, don't get caught up in the lie that your homeschooler won't be "socialized." If anything, that's a good thing. For my daughter, I want her to grow up to know how to interact with a wide variety of people. Here are five ways to do just that.
A good place to start is to plan a lot of activities that the whole family can do together. Playing board games as a family teaches teamwork, patience, taking turns, and how to be a sore loser (or a humble winner). Doing outside activities as a family encourages family dynamics and working together toward an end goal. Those are good things to teach; after all, you are rearing a man or woman, not raising a child. Your child won't be little forever and he or she needs to know how to work with people.
Field Trips and Parks
Field trips to sightseeing areas or just spending time at the local parks can allow them to interact with other kids for brief periods of time while you monitor their activities. When my daughter and I go to the park, she often organizes the other kids there in games of tag or hide-and-seek. Field trips are not just educational academically, but they also offer opportunities to interact with adults and children of all ages. Encourage your child to take the lead on talking with the ticket clerk or the gift shop attendant.
They can also develop their peer-to-peer social skills by mingling with other kids that live in your neighborhood. They can develop friendships with other kids even if they’re homeschooled and their peers are not. Don't dismiss making friends in your own neighborhood. If you don't want your child to go to other homes (I know I don't), you can set your yard up as "the" place to be. A trampoline, swingset, yard games, and other activities can be child magnets. Keep a supply of child-friendly snacks and drinks at the ready and you're set. Invite the parents over, too, for a cookout, and build community and friendships across the board.
Socialization doesn’t just occur within the walls of a traditional school. Allow your child to join local groups for kids their age. Trail Life for boys and American Heritage Girls are popular faith-based groups for children to join and develop lifelong friendships.
They learn new things and do activities together as a group. Some churches have youth groups children can join as well. Or, your child could participate in little league baseball, take swimming lessons, or participate in some sort of homeschool sports team. We recently signed our daughter up to take tennis lessons at a local recreational club operated by the city. Although we count this as PE, since she's interacting with other girls a little younger and older than she is, it helps her make friends and interact with people while doing something fun.
Teach your children to happily answer questions about homeschooling to other people they meet. Sometimes other kids can be so inquisitive that they want to ask many questions, and this helps break the ice for both of them - allowing a healthy friendship to develop. Our public library has a homeschool day once a month which is great because it enables other homeschoolers to get to know one another and talk. Encourage your child to ask for help from adults in stores who are wearing nametags.
You need to focus on enhancing your children’s socialization skills, but never force them to find friends. The only way this can successfully happen is if it happens naturally. The more forced it is, the more likely your child won’t be able to make close bonds with his or her peers.
To help develop your child’s socialization skills, just make sure they’re able to interact with peers their age from time to time. Even being around grown-ups can help foster a positive attitude and social skill that far exceeds that of kids their age.
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Gratitude is an essential value children need to learn at a young age, but how exactly do you teach it? Teaching gratitude does not have to be hard at all! Here are 16 super fun activities that will teach your child to be thankful for everything in their life.
There are so many amazing books that will teach your child about being thankful. Reading books brings so many great benefits, and your child will love the chance to snuggle up and read books with you!
Some of our favorites include:
Make a Gratitude Chain or Tree
Gratitude chains or trees are fun and easy crafts to help your child share what they are grateful for.
You can make a chain for every day in November with something they are grateful for to hang around their room. Or, create a tree and add a leaf every day with something they are thankful for. With these, you can go as long as you want.
Dinner Table Gratitude Tradition
Make it a tradition to go around the dinner table each night and share one thing you were thankful for about today. It can be big or small.
Not only will this help them find things to be grateful for, but it will also show them there is always something good about their day, which in turn teaches them to be optimistic. This gratitude tradition will also keep your family close as you talk and share about your days while eating dinner.
There are so many fun ways to have gratitude competitions. You can see who can write down the most things they are grateful for in one minute. Make it as short or as long as your child needs.
You can also see how many you can name throughout your day. Make these competitions fun and light, nothing too serious.
Write Thank You Notes
Teach your child to write thank you notes from an early age. They can paint and draw the cards themselves to build their creative side as well.
Writing thank you notes will teach gratitude and manners to your child as they learn they need to share their gratitude with others.
Rainbow Kind of Days
This is one that will hopefully stick with your child forever. Children need to know those bad days will happen, but it doesn't mean the entire day has to suck.
Have what is called a "rainbow kind of day." Use this phrase when you have a bad day. Talk about your day and the struggles you went through. Then, tell your child about your rainbow.
Just like all storms, during the storm, everything is nasty. But in the end, there is always a beautiful rainbow. This will help your child focus on the good and share their bad times with you.
If you want to make gratitude a habit for your child, include it in your bedtime routine. Every night before bed, have them share what they were grateful for that day. Make sure you share what you were grateful for that day -- and be sure to include your child!
Find an empty jar and have your child decorate it however they please. Then, put notes of things you were grateful for inside the jar every day. On December 31, as part of a New Year's celebration, empty it and read through everything you wrote!
A gratitude journal is a great way to teach your child about being thankful. Get them a journal, or have them make their own. Then try to make it a habit to write in their journals every single day. This will create a habit and help your child learn the importance of keeping a journal.
Thankful for Senses
Sensory play is always a great way to teach something! You can do this in so many different ways. You can create a sensory bin filled with things your child loves and have them explore and be thankful for each item.
Or you can ask your child something they love for each of their senses:
Gratitude Bingo is not a daily activity but rather a week or month-long event. Give your child a bingo card with gratitude prompts inside each square. You can make your own or get one online. Some square examples include:
Instead of carving your pumpkin, write out all the things your entire family is grateful for. Try to fill the pumpkin with your writing! I use a white pumpkin to do this in the fall and it's a cherished part of our fall decor.
Children love scavenger hunts! You can make this as easy or as hard as your child needs. Make hints about things you are grateful for to have them look for until they find the prize. Or, let them make their own scavenger hunt and give them prompts. For example, “Look for something you are grateful to wear.”
Grateful Photo Challenge
For those children who love to take pictures, have them go on a photo challenge! They can use your phone or a kid's camera. You can choose to give them a list of things to take pictures of or let them find 20 things they are grateful for to take a picture of.
Drawing or Painting
While it may seem so simple, children love a chance to draw or paint freely. Don’t lead this activity; let your child draw whatever comes to their mind. Process art is much more beneficial than having your child copy a cute turkey you saw on Pinterest. Be sure to hang up your child’s artwork and share how thankful you are for it!
Many children have a lot of energy that they love to use, so go on a gratitude walk! This can be a simple nature walk, but talk about things you see, hear, smell, and touch that you are grateful for during your walk.
These 16 gratitude activities will help your child learn this important skill in a fun way! Learning through play is more beneficial and lots more fun for kids of all ages! What other ways to you like to teach your child about gratitude?
How to Organize Your Homeschool
Homeschooling your kids and taking control of their education is such a wonderful and rewarding feeling. It can also feel very overwhelming! There is a lot that comes with homeschooling from the curriculum, educational resources, and supplies that can make it difficult to keep everything together and organized. Not to worry though, here you will find some homeschool organization tips to help you.
Color coding can be done in a couple of different ways. If you are homeschooling more than one child, assigning each child a color can help you to know whose work you are looking at, and who forgot to put away their supplies. If you are only homeschooling one child you can color code by subject. Having your homeschool supplies color-coded can make finding what you need when you need it easier for you and your student. These color-coded labels can help you do that.
Clipboards are inexpensive, versatile, and they can be invaluable tools when it comes to organizing your homeschool. You can put your daily or weekly schedules on them and they can also be used as portable workstations for when you or your student don’t feel like being stuck at a table or desk.
Chances are that some of your homeschool curriculum and resources are digital so you will need a way to organize all of those resources too. Start by creating a folder for each subject on your computer, those folders can be further subdivided into topic and grade level so that you find exactly what you need when you want it.
You will want to keep a portfolio of each of your homeschool children’s work through the school year, but where are you supposed to keep it all? Grades and unit tests can be stored as computer files if you prefer, or you can print end-of-the-semester grades and put them in a binder for each child. Add this Annual Record Portfolio, and you'll have all your child's grades at your fingertips.
What about all of their completed projects you ask? You probably don’t have room to store them all, particularly if you have more than one student. You can, however, document their completed projects with pictures that you print and add to their portfolio, or simply keep them as a digital archive.
If you are a homeschooling family, and you aren’t using your local library you really should be. There are so many amazing resources that you can check out and use as part of your curriculum, or just for fun, and it’s all for free!
The trick is to make sure that the borrowed library items make it back to the library and don’t get lost in the books and resources that you already have at home. That’s where the library box comes in, all you need is a milk crate or storage box where all of the borrowed materials can stay when they are not in use to make sure they are returned. Hot tip: I use this collapsible trunk organizer for a library box. It keeps the books in one place in the house, and it's easy to transport in my van back to the library. It folds down so we can take it in the library to re-stock. Plus, when it's not holding books, it's great for groceries.
Bookshelves can be used to hold more than just your textbooks and workbooks, and they are relatively inexpensive. Adding a bookshelf to your living room or homeschool room is an easy way to help keep your homeschool organized.
Purchase totes, baskets, or canvas storage bins that will fit comfortably on your bookshelf. Make sure that each tote, basket, or bin is clearly labeled so that you know what belongs inside of it. If you have younger students who are just learning to read pictures on the outside of the boxes can be very helpful.
A Place For Everything
You know the old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place," well, this is true for organizing your homeschool as well. Have a designated spot for your textbooks, workbooks, paper, art supplies, learning manipulatives, and anything else that you might be using as part of your curriculum.
Having a designated spot for each item makes it easier for you and your student to put things back when they are done, and that makes it easier to find them the next time they are needed. If you find that you have more things than you do space it might be time to purge some of your materials or put them in storage until you need them.
Over the door, shoe organizers can be used to store so much more than just your shoes, and it is a convenient way to keep some of your smaller items together. The organizers with clear pockets are great because you can see what’s in them quickly.
These pockets are a great place to store index cards, markers, crayons, glue, painting supplies, pencils, and flashcards. You can also use them to hold your office supplies and any cleaning supplies, like disinfectant wipes, that you may use in your homeschool room.
Having your homeschool materials organized means that you can focus on the important parts like teaching and learning what works best for your learner. Everyone’s homeschool organization will look different based on the number and age of students they have, and the space that they have in their home. Do you have any amazing homeschool organization tips that you would like to share? Comment those ideas below!
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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