Often families who choose to homeschool their children get questioned a lot about their choice and how it will affect their children. Many of the questions are centered around bias and misinformation, but one that might strike a nerve in even the most resolved homeschool parent is “aren’t you worried about your kids missing out on experiences that can only happen in ‘real’ school?” While there are certain experiences kids are better off not having, like bullying and constant peer pressure, there are some things that can be better experienced in a school setting.
Don’t lose your resolve just yet! There are plenty of ways you can make your homeschool experience seem just a little more like “normal” school.
Get School Lockers
It may seem silly, but when I was a kid, I really looked forward to having a locker in junior high. I can remember being in 3rd grade and purposely leaving school books in my cubby at the back of the classroom rather than in my desk so I could go in between subjects and exchange books like it was a locker (I was not a cool kid, haha). Actually getting a locker when I entered jr high, I was so excited to decorate the inside with pictures, magnets, and small posters, and loved having a small space in the school that was all my own.
You can actually buy metal lockers for your home to give your kid this school experience! Have them each choose a locker, and let them decorate it every year. It will be fun to see how their decorating tastes change as they get older! Also, having school lockers in the home will be an easy way to make sure school items don’t get lost around the chaos of the house.
Join a team sport
With no requirements on physical education in homeschools, it’s sometimes easy to neglect all of the benefits that comes from PE classes like structured exercise and an introduction to a variety of different sports. But beyond just PE classes, most schools offer after school team sports to their students in addition to their PE classes.
Having your kids join local sports teams throughout the year is a great way to offer this school experience and reap the benefits of organized youth sports. The health benefits are obvious, but team sports offer a lot of social skill benefits as well – something that homeschooled students are often noted for lacking. Being on a team sport helps kids learn effective collaboration with their teammates as well as a little healthy competition which are both necessary for advancing careers as adults.
Get a school uniform
If you read my piece on school uniforms, you know I have always supported school uniforms, but this suggestion isn’t just because I am personally a fan. It may seem a little pointless to implement a uniform in your own house, but there are several homeschool parents who do this.
There are a few really solid reasons to have your homeschooled students wear a uniforms other than them being cute. They offer the part of the “get ready for the day” experience that every kid going to school has to go through, without the stress of choosing an outfit. Also, having an outfit that is just for school will help set the “school mood” and get them into gear for learning. Most importantly, if you are part of a homeschool group that goes on field trips, your children will be easy to spot and easy to describe if they happen to get separated and lost from the group (I mean, how many times have you forgotten what your child was wearing that day!).
Get laptops for the kids
We are living in a world where technology is advancing and changing all the time. Technology will no doubt be a part of every career, and making sure your kids are keeping up with it is of utmost importance. When I was a kid, we had computer labs to learn basic stuff like how to operate a computer and do minimal research, but now technology is entwined much more heavily in the school experience. This is especially true for kids who need a bit of extra help outside of classroom – for example, if your student is struggling with math, there are math resources like worksheets, games, and other activities that can give them the little extra practice they need.
It may sound expensive to get multiple laptops, but there places to find cheap laptops for school. Once you have them, you kids can each customize the laptops to their liking for optimal positive user experience. Once you have them, there are countless ways to incorporate technology into all of your school activities, ensuring your kids don’t fall behind kids with this level of involvement in schools.
Making the decision to homeschool your children is a difficult one, but one filled with passion and love. Just because it’s not the “average school experience” doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to help make sure your kids have many of the same experiences public school kids do. What kind of things do you do to enhance your homeschool experience?
Bio: Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on twitter and instagram!