If you are anything like our family, you are often asked about socialization when you homeschool. “Aren’t you concerned about EJ not being able to interact with other children?” they will ask. Of course, this was one of our daughter’s questions when she decided to return to work and allow him to travel with me and homeschool.
Not that EJ is any shrinking violet but, naturally, we all want our children (and grandchildren) to be well-rounded and able to interact in the real world. And it was tough at first, not because he wasn’t meeting new kids, but because he did miss some of his playmates from school and before-and-after care.
Because we travel quite a bit, registering for a co-op or long-term activity is tough but what we make up for in learning and adventures more than makes up for it. And to be sure he has opportunities to connect with other children his age, we make sure to look for homeschool days and programs both at home and wherever we may be traveling.
Learning about the life of a fur trader
In the past couple of years, we have participated in sessions from Florida, to California, to Utah, and right here in Alberta (we learned about life as a fur trader at Fort Edmonton Park.) We have found terrific opportunities at museums, air and space centers, science centers, and botanical gardens. Outdoor venues also offer a treasure trove of fun and learning. EJ loved learning about paleontology at Dinosaur Provincial Park during a summer camping trip there.
Many of these programs are offered at low or no cost and can easily fit into your family’s individual curriculum plans. Some are broken up by age group but others are more centered on the family with each child doing the parts they can manage. The National Parks Junior Ranger programs are a fun example of programs that the whole family can participate in together.
Interviewing a fifer at Castillo de San Marcos in Florida
I’m sure you are asking yourself, “why am I reading about enrichment programs across the country when our family is lucky to manage a two-week vacation to the relatives every summer?” I get that and, obviously, the travel part isn’t going to work for many families but the idea of not just visiting your local museum, but spending the day at a museum homeschool day is available in many centers. Some even have sleepovers!
You can find listings on museum websites under education or try searching homeschool on their page. Some have options to sign up for an e-newsletter that keeps you up to date on homeschool days and longer day-camps. Not all venues offer programs but you may find information and lesson plans for a self-guided visit, that’s what we did for The Science Behind Pixar (an added bonus for this program was the free course on Khan Academy that reinforces the learning.)
Learning about stop-motion animation
There are many benefits when our children participate in these kinds of programs including:
socialization – EJ often runs into the same kids at more than one event and makes a new friend at every event
group participation – so much of how we teach in our home is one on one so the group learning aspect of these events is a fun change
learning from a different adult – although we all work with EJ on his lessons, it’s nice for him to learn from someone outside of the family
learning from experts – we find many of the homeschool days will bring in specialists for the day such as astronauts, paleontologists, and First Nations elders and artists
seeing things from a different perspective
finding out that learning can happen anywhere, not just the “schoolroom”
they make learning fun!
Besides enriching their education, getting out of the house can be a big plus for parent and child, especially during the cold, stuck indoors days of winter (at least for those of us in northern climates) and spending the day discovering something new or learning more about a favorite topic can be the perfect cure for cabin fever too. I know it works for us!
A big thank you to Kimberley Linkletter of Vintage Blue Suitcase for writing this guest post.