How Your Virtual School Student Can Build Strong Friendships

4 min to read
A teenager sitting in a wheelchair while sitting at a desk and listening to an online class

Friends can make life easier. As your student’s Learning Coach, you already know this, as you surely rely on friendships that mean the world to you. Your child also needs to make friends in order to form a core group they can rely on. But this can initially seem challenging if they are attending online school for the first time.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways virtual school students can have numerous social interactions. With the proper knowledge, you can show your student how to make friends online. 

Why are social interactions and friends important for students?

When young children play together, they form affective bonds and develop habits that go beyond social interaction, such as empathy, collaboration, negotiation, sharing, and more.

Pre-teens have an increased need for independence and independent decision-making, but they focus on building friendships too. Their friends fulfill a sense of belonging, reduce stress, enable smooth school transitions, and help them develop healthy self-esteem and social skills. 

Adolescents have more complex social interactions that include relationships, breakups, disagreements, and the formation of lifelong friendships. A higher level of independence and commitment to their peers can help them to overcome the transitions during this stage.

How can kids to develop friendships in an online school?

For most children, school helps them lay the foundation for social skills. Online school does the same and can even take socializing a step further by ensuring your child’s social life is balanced between online and in-person interactions. 

At Connections Academy, we provide many enriching ways for students to socialize.

Classroom interactions

LiveLesson® sessions provide students with opportunities to collaborate with their peers on school projects. When they collaborate on projects, they can find similarities in their peers which can prompt social interactions outside the classroom.

Virtual clubs and extracurricular activities

A wide array of virtual, teacher-led clubs help students at all grade levels learn new things, explore interests, and meet peers who share the same interest and enthusiasm. Chess, debate, art, photography, graphic design, and e-sports are just some of the interests our online school clubs cater to.

In-person meetups with other online families and students

Online school families who live in the same community can connect in-person through planned gatherings or group activities.

Field trips

Connections Academy students often have the opportunity to go on field trips that let them explore museums, historical sites, zoos, and the great outdoors. With field trips, your child can go on an adventure with their classmates, learn to speak about their experiences, and build friendships.

A group of online school friends gathered around a cell phone. 

Benefits of online socializing

Online socializing has benefits for your child that in-person socializing may not. These include:

1. Some kids find it easier to communicate online than to meet in-person

When your child connects with their online school friends through chats or video calls, it saves them a lot of time and energy. Planning and initiating an in-person meet-up can be more time consuming if their friends live far away, and could lead to last-minute cancellations if sudden obligations come up from either side.

But online interactions are more flexible and can be accommodated without prior planning.

2. They can connect with like-minded peers

Online interactions provide your student with a platform to connect and collaborate with peers who share similar interests, experiences, and traits. Online school clubs, groups and forums can also help students who have niche interests—popular culture, hobbies, cultural, social, and political views—to join a larger universe of people.

3. Some kids can feel more accepted

Having online school friends who are in the same stage of life and being able to reach out to them on social media can have a positive impact on your child. Social media and online chats can help them to be more expressive, speak about their problems, and even seek help from their friends. 

4. Online socializing can help with anxiety

While online school provides a great environment for learning, it also motivates children to take one step at a time in overcoming social anxiety. Outside of school, they can engage in conversations with peers without exhausting themselves psychologically and build their confidence.

Socializing online can be a great way to build friendships, stay in touch with friends, and grow. But exercising safety while online is essential for children and teens.

Socializing outside the classroom

While online school assists in making friends online, your child can also make friends outside of school in your neighborhood and community. 

Your child can socialize in-person by joining:

  • Dance, karate, or gymnastics classes
  • Local hobby and interest classes/groups for theater and music
  • Little league and junior sports leagues
  • Community volunteering events

You can also help your child by:

  • Organizing trips to parks
  • Arranging game nights with neighbors
  • Encouraging them to join in-person children groups
  • Organizing meets and activities with other neighborhood parents 

Socializing online and in-person can help your child build lifelong friendships, become more confident, and even overcome their social anxiety. To maintain a healthy balance between online and in-person socializing, they may also need to learn how to control their tech usage. You can learn more about this by reading our article on Developing A Healthy Relationship To Technology For Kids

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