Home Based students can feel isolated from peers when the classroom is at home. Distance learners and traditional, school-based learners both need the social interaction of children their own age to develop appropriate social skills, sometimes referred to as “soft-skills” as they grow into adulthood.
Because virtual learners have more flexible schedules, there are a lot of opportunities to create age-appropriate friendships and practice their social skills – sometimes while honing a talent or exploring a new hobby. For older students, responsibility and real-world skills of money management and time management can be found with part-time jobs. Here are a few suggestions for your WVL student to get out into the community and work on their interpersonal skills while making new friends.
Children who School from Home / Virtual learner social clubs – This is a popular solution for many parents whose children attend school at home. You can easily find groups of parents and students who get together regularly for the sole purpose of socializing. Over time, you children can foster friendships with other students their own age and develop social skills while having fun outside of their home classroom.
Arts Development – Even in traditional schools, art programs are losing funding and kids aren’t getting the arts education they used to. Fortunately, there are many community arts programs that can help your child express themselves with art, music, acting…the options are endless. Interacting with peers at a hobby they both enjoy is a great way to make friends and work on those important social skills while honing their talents.
Sports – You don’t have to have the next Aaron Rodgers to get your child involved in sports programs. From intramural games to pickup games on the basketball courts; getting a physical activity into your distance learners schedule is a great way to stay healthy and active while making new friends. Sports participation helps to build confidence and good habits that last a lifetime while making friends with children their own age.
Civic Clubs – From Scouting to 4H – there are so many options for getting children involved in their community and making friends along the way. Aside from building friendships, they will learn to play a role in making the world a better place and becoming positive influences in their communities. Socializing with children who have similar goals will reinforce their civic-mindedness as they mature, making them valuable and respected members of their community.
Whatever you and your child decide to do to make friends with children their own age, remember that trying a variety of things is best. Your child will get exposure to many different kids and experiences. They will learn more about who they are as people, what they like!