4 Ways to Create Homeschool Connections for Online Students
One of the challenges for online students can be maintaining a healthy social life and finding homeschool connections with their peers. I remember struggling to find a social arena when I was homeschooled, and I hear my students echo this difficulty in their essays and assignments.
Home-based learning can present a unique challenge, because it can be difficult for online and homeschool students to find the right spaces to connect with their peers. It is difficult to find a balance, because some homeschool students are choosing to learn at home because they have had difficulties with their peers in the past. At the same time, we know that it is important for online students to connect with their peers, to have the opportunity to make and maintain friendships and to talk with other students their age. With this goal in mind, I would like to suggest four ways for online students to connect with their peers.
Connect with or Start a Homeschool Group
Homeschool groups provide a venue for students engaged in home-based learning to meet each other, to go on field trips together, and to share hands-on learning activities like science experiments. Parents benefit from these homeschool connections by partnering with other homeschool parents to share teaching materials and ideas. Many areas already have a variety of homeschool groups, as well as resources to help find them. You may also want to start a homeschool group yourself.
Become a Part of a Church Youth Group
Church youth groups often offer activities and youth camps, all geared towards building friendships and supporting students in growing in their relationship with Jesus. If you already have a home church, joining its youth group is a fairly simple step. If you do not have a home church at the moment, never fear! Do some research with your child, and find a youth group in your area whose values match your own. Your child will have the opportunity to meet many wonderful peers and learn about Jesus.
Join a Club
Depending on where you live, there will be different clubs and activities available. When I was a student, I was part of Christian Youth Theater, and took PE classes at the YWCA. Some of my best friendships came out of the time I spent engaged in club activities outside of school. For children working to maintain existing friendships, joining a club together can help them to remain in regular contact with their friends.
Learn About Your Online School’s Social Options
As a teacher at a Christian online school, I can tell you that building a healthy community among our students is one of our priorities. Having students all over the United States who will never sit in a classroom together makes this more difficult. Enlightium Academy offers two main areas for students to connect with each other. The first is our Enlightium Social page, which looks and acts like Facebook, but is administered by Enlightium Academy staff. Students are able to make homeschool connections and interact with other Enlightium Academy students in a safe online forum. We also offer a staff-led monthly Bible study, which provides an opportunity for students to study God’s Word and praise Him together.
Finding a positive community can present a big challenge for online students, but we know from scripture that living as part of a community is part of God’s plan for his children. 1 John 4:11 states, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Loving God, loving others and having the ability to engage with peers are gifts that God has given us. I hope that this blog encourages you to find healthy ways to help your child connect with others.