How Do Online School Clubs and Extracurricular Activities Help Students Socialize?

Parents who are new to online school often worry that their student will miss out on the social experiences of in-person clubs and extracurricular activities found in brick-and-mortar schools. But Connections Academy® families know just how beneficial participating in online clubs for students and other extracurricular activities can really be.

Q: How does socialization in online learning work?

A: Virtual student clubs and activities are just like those in traditional schools.

Online schools know that although attending class is a fundamental part of a student’s education, socialization in the online classroom is vital to a student’s growth and emotional development. Because of this, online schools like Connections Academy offer many different opportunities for students from kindergarten to high school to socialize and build personal relationships.

Virtual live classes offer real-time interactions between teachers and students in online classrooms. Teachers, students, and families can also meet and get to know each other on field trips and other special in-person events.

Connections Academy students meeting up for a field trip.

Many online schools also offer virtual clubs for students and extracurricular activities such as Art Club, Chess Club, Gaming & Technology Club, and other specialized middle school clubs and high school clubs that help students explore their interests while connecting with others and making lifelong school friends.

Online K–12 activities and virtual student clubs offer students the opportunity to have fun while learning valuable skills, including leadership, collaboration, and communication skills that will help them find success after school. Plus, they just might discover a new activity or hobby they love!

Q: Why should my online student get involved in a club or activity?

A: In-person or online clubs for students are a fundamental part of developing social skills and emotional development.

There are a number of benefits to your student joining a virtual club for kids. Besides being a lot of fun, virtual clubs for students offer the needed socialization opportunities that concern many parents. These activities benefit students by providing an avenue for pursuing their passions and exploring new things. Online school students collaborate, compete, exchange ideas, and learn teamwork and leadership skills—all while they enjoy friendly social interaction with others who share their common interests.

Clubs and activities can also have a positive effect on student achievement. A study by the National Federation of State High School Associations showed that students who are involved in extracurricular activities perform better academically and develop skills and work habits that will pay off later in life. They are also more likely to continue their education.

For online elementary school students, extracurricular activities contribute to a well-rounded learning experience and help nurture initiative, integrity, imagination, self-knowledge, and interpersonal skills.

Q: What kind of clubs can be offered virtually?

A: From eSports to virtual book clubs, there are plenty of options for students to participate in topics that interest them.

Many online schools offer the same clubs and activities that would be found in a brick-and-mortar school, including academic clubs, Chess Club, Robotics Club, Literary and Art Clubs, a student newspaper, and much more. If hobbies that interest your student aren’t available at your online school, your student can talk to their teacher about possibly starting new online school club ideas—just like they would at a traditional brick-and-mortar school. A great idea for elementary and middle school students is creating a virtual book club for kids, which helps to encourage socialization, spur discussion, and build common interests around a shared topic.

There are also specialized middle school clubs and high school clubs to help students at that level make new connections and prepare for their journey after high school.

A girl sharing her book through a virtual book club for kids enrolled in Connections Academy.

Q: What’s an online school club like?

A: Most virtual student clubs are held via live video-conferencing sessions.

An online school club is just like an in-person club with one key difference—club meetings are held in a real-time virtual environment through video conferencing. In online school clubs, students interact with peers who share similar interests in live, online discussions, just as they would in person. The bonus in the virtual world is that students can be from a variety of places, bringing diverse backgrounds and new perspectives. There is an expectation from both the club leader and other members that all students will actively participate in the club meetings and discussions.

Q: Will joining a club help my child do better in school?

A: Not entirely, but student clubs are designed to inspire students to develop hobbies and focus on their passions.

Online school clubs aren’t tied to grades and aren’t designed to boost performance in a particular academic area, but they do help students stay engaged in school outside of their academic work and strengthen creative-thinking and problem-solving skills.

A teacher typically facilitates an online school club, often offering additional learning activities tied to the club, such as writing an article for the student newspaper, playing in a chess tournament, completing a scientific experiment, or writing code. If the student is interested and enthusiastic, the online school club activities are a good supplement to their coursework.

Q: How do parents choose the right online school club or extracurricular activity?

A: Find what excites your student and explore different club offerings.

The answer to this depends on what their student is interested in doing. Parents should think about the things their student enjoys and the subjects that interest them. While the Debate Club is a great way to develop reasoning, logic, and research skills—if the student isn’t interested in debate, it’s just going to be another obligation and the student may feel resentful if forced to do it. Parents should discuss the various options with their online school student, then mutually agree on which online clubs and extracurricular activities to join. It’s okay to try something new! Online clubs and activities offer students the opportunity to explore things they think they may be interested in, giving them a safe place to try new things.

Connections Academy students participating in extracurricular activities like figure skating.

Q: Will extracurricular activities take time away from my student’s daily schoolwork?

A: Online clubs should not take away from student schoolwork, but rather enhance it and their skill development.

While many parents may worry about the distractions online clubs for students may cause, if a student is interested in an activity, it’s probably worth trying because of the many positive benefits. Before committing to virtual student clubs, take a look at your student’s current schedule to make sure there is room to fit in a club. This is especially true for online high school students, who may be balancing part-time jobs as well as school. Parents and Learning Coaches should make sure their students understand that schoolwork always comes first.

Are you interested in learning more about virtual clubs for students and other social activities for homeschoolers? Check out how one Connections Academy family supported their student’s social and emotional development in this article and totally nailed homeschooling socialization!

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