FAQ: How Clubs and Extracurricular Activities Help Virtual School Students Socialize

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Parents who are new to online school or homeschooling often worry that their student will miss out on the social experiences of an in-person classroom. But in addition to online extracurricular activities for students, such as online clubs, many virtual schools offer in-person events and activities as well to help students connect and socialize with their peers and teachers. 

If you’re curious about online K-12 extracurricular activities, here are some answers to the common questions you may have about the realities of online learning. 

Q: How does socialization in online learning work?

A: Online schools know that while attending class is a fundamental part of a student’s education, socialization 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. In addition to class, teachers, students, and families can also meet and get to know each other on field trips and other special, in-person events.  

Many Connections Academy–supported schools also offer virtual clubs and extracurricular activities, such as art club, chess club, gaming and technology club, and other specialized online clubs for elementary students, middle school students, and high school students. A variety of clubs helps students explore their interests while connecting with others and making lifelong friends. 
Online K-12 extracurricular activities and clubs offer students the opportunity to have fun while learning valuable skills, including leadership, collaboration, and communication. These skills will help enrich their lives in school, and also help them find success after school. Plus, they might discover a new hobby or activity they love!  

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

A: Besides being a lot of fun, virtual clubs for students offer the needed socialization opportunities that many parents are concerned their child would miss outside of a brick-and-mortar school. 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 peers who share their common interests.
Virtual 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 younger kids, online clubs for elementary students and higher grades contribute to a well-rounded learning experience and help nurture initiative, integrity, imagination, self-knowledge, and interpersonal skills. 

An online student participating in a virtual club.

Q: What kind of virtual clubs are offered in online school?

A: 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 starting a new club—just like they would at a traditional brick-and-mortar school.   

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.

Q: What’s an online school club like?

A: An online school club is just like an in-person club, but meetings are held virtually via video chat. In online school clubs, students interact with peers who share similar interests in live, online discussions, just as they would in person.
Additionally, the bonus in virtual clubs is that students can attend 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: Online school clubs are not graded and aren’t designed to boost performance in a particular academic area, but they do help students in a multitude of ways. For example, virtual clubs 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.  

A student participating in an online club to learn a new language.

Q: How do parents choose the right online extracurricular activities?

 A: 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 may just be another obligation and the student may feel hesitant to participate and get the full benefits of socializing 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 OK 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.   

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

A: Many parents may worry about the distractions virtual clubs and activities may cause. However, if a student is interested in a club, it’s probably worth trying because of the many positive benefits.
Before committing to an online club, look at your student’s current schedule to make sure there is room to fit in an extracurricular activity. This is especially true for online clubs for high school students, since high schoolers may be balancing part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, or internships 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 social activities for homeschoolers? Check out how one Connections Academy family supported their student’s social and emotional development!   

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