Although social opportunities are a priority for many students in home education, most young people do well with one or two very good friends. This is an area where quality counts more than quantity. As many parents will tell you, having no friends is better for your teen than bad friends. Screen your child’s social opportunities carefully! Many teens are satisfied with meeting once a week with a group and once a week with a close friend. However, you still will want to help your teen find social outlets. Here are a few suggestions.
Church Youth Group
You might even choose a youth group apart from your Sunday morning church. Your child will most likely be very welcome. Church youth activities maintain a Christian perspective while offering loads of fun things to do such as weekly fellowship times, annual mission trips, seasonal retreats, leadership opportunities, and more.
High-school students can even earn scholarships through 4-H involvement. A club can be formed right in your homeschool support group. Your children can raise livestock, collect insects, decorate cakes, or learn woodworking. There are literally hundreds of projects for children to try. They can compete at the county fair with their annual project. Parents are closely involved with the whole process. Leadership is carefully taught as each club is run by the children using “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Only children vote in these meetings.
Scouting can be a great source of leadership training for the boys. Merit badges include excellent units of study and mastery to add to your curriculum. An Eagle Scout is respected by future employers and college admissions offices.
If your young person enjoys the thought of helping others, wearing a uniform, and flying airplanes, then the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is for him or her. This is an auxiliary organization of the U.S. Air Force. Cadets learn aeronautics, aviation, military drills, marching, survival skills, and first aid skills. Uniforms, gear, and equipment are included at no additional charge. Cadets are promoted on their own merits through testing and achievement.
Some support groups have formed teams in basketball, soccer, baseball, and track. Homeschoolers also have an opportunity to participate in the annual Homeschool Basketball and Track Tournament in Estes Park, Colorado, 1-303-420-2630. There are also independent teams in many communities that offer these same services.
Community Programs and Classes
Your young person may enjoy being a part of a community theater production or orchestra, as well as physical fitness programs, and open basketball or volleyball games. Other opportunities include Jr. Achievement, Math and Spelling Bees, and Odyssey of the Mind. Check your local recreation center catalog for a variety of classes.
Book Discussion Groups
Many homeschool students have enjoyed forming book discussion groups. Book selection can be made by the students, with parental input. This gives the students a chance to learn more about “give and take” discussion, public speaking, and how to defend their position in a non-threatening atmosphere.
There are many ways teens can become involved in serving their community, such as hospital volunteer work, visiting a nursing home, doing yard work for the elderly, reading to neighborhood children, or working on a political campaign.
Activities abound, but don’t overlook the unique opportunity you have to involve your teens in your adult life! Do you own a business? Train them to be your assistant. Are you a craftsman? Take on an apprentice! Get information and ideas in Mike Cheney’s “Apprenticeships and Mentorships Making a Comeback,” in the Fall 2014 issue of the Virginia Home Educator.
As you can see, there are may ways for your teen to get together with other teens to socialize. Due to the increasing problems of today’s youth, many parents have reassessed the current dating habits of teens, as this area has proven to be a consistent hazard. Parents may have strong memories of broken hearts in their own past, and feel that their dating experiences brought harm to their marital relationship.
No matter how you handle the dating issue, please take time to properly prepare your sons and daughters for marriage. There are many good books on this topic in your local Christian bookstore.