In a recent On Learning podcast, Learning Coach Allison Miller challenged several assumptions about the term “socialization,” especially as it pertains to school-aged children. She explained that concerns about kids’ socialization opportunities are often at the top of parents’ priority lists as they decide on the best type of school for their child. While the term “socialization” may bring to mind images of large groups of kids in an in-person classroom, this image doesn’t necessarily reflect the way that people are actually socialized, which entails learning how to behave in a way that is socially acceptable. Kids don’t just learn from one another; they also learn from their families and their communities. These ideas can help your kids (and you) stay social no matter where you are.
1. Participate in a Fundraiser
This year, Basalt Middle School has taken their Bike-a-Thon fundraising event online. This means “no excuses,” according to the website’s description of the event. All participants need to do is make a donation to register and then post their progress using the hashtag #Bike4BMS. Participants will be entered into a raffle to win some great prizes, and even those who don’t come away with a prize can enjoy the opportunity to dust off their bikes and get outside.
In order to broaden your child’s understanding of the importance of empathy and giving, you can also organize your own fundraiser to support a cause of your student’s choosing.
2. Attend an Online School Event
For many students, the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 meant the temporary end to a lot of meaningful events. However, where many felt loss, others also saw opportunities to connect without the constraints of having to be in the same physical space. Graduation ceremonies went virtual, and birthday parties turned into drive-through parades.
The same has been true for proms. For example, California Virtual Academies is hosting a Dance at Home-themed prom. Students don’t have to worry about breaking curfew, and parents can enjoy seeing this rite of passage from the sidelines.
The key to enjoying these events is to avoid the impulse to compare them to their in-person equivalents. Which opportunities does a virtual prom offer that an in-person prom might not? Think about students who can attend with their long-distance friends, the chance for a prom father-daughter dance, or the opportunity for a late night pizza run to keep the dance party going.
3. Get Competitive
There are plenty of chances to compete online, whether your child is a spelling whiz or a soccer superstar. The Scripps Spelling Bee competition, which has been around for an impressive 90 years, will be virtual this year. The preliminary competition will take place in June, and the final competition will be streamed live on ESPN. Additionally, Stride hosted a spelling bee for K12-powered students at its headquarters in Virginia, where students from all over the country came for the in-person and virtual event which was live streamed on K12, A Stride Company Facebook page.
This list of 50 student competitions has something for everyone. Not only is this a chance for your student to explore different interests, it also helps them connect with people who have interests similar to their own. Many of these categories have accompanying online communities that your child can join.
4. Build Community
A community can take a lot of different forms. It could be a competitive gaming group, a book club, a local nonprofit group, or a faith organization, among many other options. All that’s required (according to the definition of “community,” at least) is having a particular characteristic in common. Students can volunteer with a local organization or find a local chapter of a national organization. They can also create their own online communities with their classmates or others whose interests overlap with theirs.
Kids can also have a hand in important community-level work on an individual level. They can adopt a virtual pet through the Human Rescue Alliance or make origami to help benefit people who lack access to clean water.
5. Find a Way to Explore
Many students eagerly turn in their parent permission slips so that they can attend their school fieldtrips. These trips aren’t limited to brick-and-mortar schools, though. Google’s field trip app enables students to find places of interest near them if they want an in-person experience.
These fieldtrips can also be hosted online by doing a factory tour or visiting a museum. With a little digital legwork, the world can be at your child’s fingertips.
While socialization varies greatly for every child, students never have to feel limited in their options to socialize with peers and their community. If you’re looking for some creative options to socialize your student during the summer, consider Stride K12’s Summer Camps!