Success in Online Learning Starts with a Social Life
“Humans are technically built to be around other humans,” says Parenting Coach and Washington Post Advice Columnist Meghan Leahy. “The feeling of isolation can happen pretty quickly.”
If your child is an online student, you’ve seen the benefits of a flexible education. Online education means you have the freedom to choose how and when your child learns — whether you choose an online private school or other online programs.
But what about a social life?
As a parent, one of your responsibilities is ensuring that your child has an active, healthy social life if you make the choice to remove her from a traditional school setting. What kind of programs do you choose to give your child the best social experience?
We recently chatted with Meghan Leahy, a well-known newspaper columnist and mother of three with a master’s degree in school counseling, to get her thoughts on social opportunities for kids outside the traditional educational system.
Q: When a student attends school online or is homeschooled, why is it important for the parents to ensure that the child has an active social life?
Meghan: It’s actually one of the fundamental ways that children grow. During play, kids can experiment safely without consequence, it’s where they do a lot of problem solving. And they need a social life to have that.
Q: What are some strategies parents can use when a social life isn’t automatically built into their child’s schooling experience?
M: My advice to parents and families: If you live in a community where people are not catering to these needs, don’t be afraid to reach out to people around you. Say, “I’m having a pizza night this Friday, and everyone can come over and bring their kids!”
I think that if you consciously seek out interesting experiences in the world, if you go to cultural things, or church, or anything that is outside of your house and interesting, even though it isn’t time spent with peers, if you think about the definition of socialization, you are socializing your child with the culture.
Q: How can a parent be sure that their child is getting the right amount of social time when they’re an online or home-based student?
M: You have to really pay attention. A normal, typical child will just say “I’m bored!” They’ll talk about things they’d like to do. “I would like to try ice skating,” or “I want to take art classes.”
If they aren’t saying anything, you can ask them: “What are you interested in trying? Is there something you want to go see together?”
It’s more a question of how can we broaden our experience. As a parent, I would just take interest in what they’re interested in.
Is online education right for your family?
If you’re considering a non-traditional path for your child — whether it’s because your youngster is an athlete, performer or simply thrives in a setting more attuned to his or her learning style — consider the possibilities of a flexible, online program that fits your family’s needs. For more information on the benefits of online education, visit www.icademy.com today.