If you’ve considered homeschooling your children, there’s one question you’ve probably been asked many times: “What about child socialization?”
You may have even wondered it yourself. After all, many parents who went to brick-and-mortar schools can think back to the friends and fun they had at school and school-related and other social group activities.
But it’s a common misconception that homeschooled kids miss out on opportunities to socialize, says Tarla Gernert, executive director of Homeschool Connections, which offers classes for grades 1-12 at various southeast Michigan locations.
“How can you learn to socialize if you’re stuck at home with mom all day?” people wonder, Gernert says. “That’s the real big misunderstanding about homeschoolers.”
But the truth is there are many social activities and groups in the area geared specifically toward homeschooled children.
“Many times we have difficulty getting our work done because we have so many social opportunities,” she says.
It’s also a matter of how parents prefer their children to be “socialized,” Gernert says, pointing out the irony that teachers commonly tell their students, “We’re not here to socialize.”
“Do you want your 12-year-old child to learn their social skills from a room full of other 12-year-olds or do you want your 12-year-old to learn their social skills from multi-age, real-life situations?” she says. “What social environments do you want your child in?”
There’s no right or wrong answer, of course, but interested parents should know that there’s no shortage of social activities for homeschooled kids in Metro Detroit. Here’s a look at five unique opportunities in the area for homeschooled kids to socialize, make friends and have fun.
1. Homeschool co-ops and classes
Many homeschool families are involved in local homeschool co-ops, where families work together to provide educational and social group activities for their kids. You can search for a co-op near you here.
Taking classes through Homeschool Connections is another popular option, as it gives kids access to classes in topics like technology, math, science and art plus the chance to socialize with other homeschooled kids.
Gernert says Homeschool Connections currently has more than 700 children attending its classes, which are held in Troy, Rochester Hills, Romeo, Auburn Hills, Shelby Township, Clarkston and Farmington Hills.
2. Sports leagues
It’s no surprise that homeschooled kids take part in sports through recreational leagues in their communities, but did you know there are also sports leagues just for homeschoolers?
FAITH Homeschool, which serves the Lapeer area, has a homeschool sports league offering basketball, volleyball, soccer and baseball.
Summit Soccer Club, based in Macomb County, is a competitive high school athletic program for homeschooled students.
Both leagues often participate in national competitions, Gernert says.
Other local opportunities include the Capital Homeschool Athletic Program and the Howell Athletic Association of Christian Homeschoolers.
3. Music groups and theater
Many homeschooled students are active in local music and theater programs, Gernert says.
Oakland Homeschool Music Inc., or OHMI, offers music education programs for grades K-12.
“They have everything from choir to band to vocal ensembles to guitar group,” she says.
4. Community service
A homeschool graduate who participated in Homeschool Connections started a community service club where homeschool students work on projects in the community, Gernert says.
“That’s another way they can get plugged into not only having social opportunities but some service opportunities as well,” she says.
At the Stage Nature Center in Troy, Homeschool Nature Classes teach kids, K-5 about nature and wildlife.
Parents can also look into volunteer opportunities in the community at animal shelters, libraries or senior centers.
5. Events and field trips
Parents aren’t on their own when it comes to organizing outings for their kids to local attractions. Field trips and group outings are organized through homeschool co-ops and groups and initiated by area destinations.
SEA Life Michigan in Auburn Hills, for example, is hosting an annual Homeschool Week, at which students and their parents receive discounted admission and have access to special educational stations set up where children can learn about ocean life and habitats. SEA Life will also host lessons to supplement the visit and offer take-home educational resources.
You’ll also find 4-H clubs for homeschoolers and homeschool groups that organize camping trips, proms and other activities. For more ideas, visit Homeschooling in Detroit – a resource for homeschooling families in the area run by local mom Christina Strickland.
This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.