Parent Perspectives on Online School Socialization

5 min to read
A Groop of Students Socializing During an Activity

While receiving a good education is essential for a student’s growth, learning to socialize is equally important. Being able to interact and communicate well with others is greatly beneficial not only in social settings throughout K-12 school but also in future real-world situations such as in college, during job interviews, and in the workplace

What Is Intentional Socialization?

The successful overall socialization of your virtual student often relies on some combination of intentional and unintentional socialization.  

In intentional socialization, parents and Learning Coaches purposefully create situations for their student, such as taking them and a friend to the movies as a reward for completing all their chores. The social opportunity was planned and intentional. 

On the flip side, unintentional socialization is less structured. When your student takes part in spontaneous social situations such as bonding with their classmates during a field trip, they’re being unintentionally socialized.

Countless examples of unintentional socialization can occur during intentional socialization. 

For instance, if a child has joined their local gymnastics team (intentional socialization), they may find it easier to make friends if they support other students in the class and take a genuine interest in others rather than isolating themselves throughout practice. Seeing the correlation between their behavior and how they get along with others can create future unintentional socialization opportunities, such as meeting up outside of practice, deepening connections, and making friends organically. 

Examples of Socialization from Connections Academy Families

If you’re new to or considering online school for your student, you might have some hesitations about the social aspect of learning from home.  To give you a better idea of how socialization works in virtual school, we’ve gathered some examples of socialization, both intentional and unintentional, that Connections Academy parents have encouraged their students to participate in.*

A group of online high school students socializing.

Get Involved with Your Community

Your community is a great place for your child to build local friendships, practice collaboration, and observe other people in social situations. Consider doing some research to find out what opportunities are available in your area through special interest clubs, civic or charitable organizations, recreation councils, or houses of worship. You might be surprised by what you find. Even through volunteer work, children can learn what it takes to be in a leadership position and how to work with others for an important cause.

"In addition to placing significance on their academics, I encourage my kids to be out in the world and experience life in our community. We are very intentional about their interactions and focus on building positive/meaningful relationships with friends. My kids stay active in the community by volunteering weekly at a food bank. They also stay in touch with peers by participating in chess tournaments, attending Bible camp, playing on a golf league, taking music lessons weekly, and spending quality time with family and friends!"

—Jody Abraham, Michigan Connections Academy

Attend Field Trips

Make sure to take advantage of any field trips your school offers. Not only are they fun and educational, but they’re also an exciting way for students to meet classmates and teachers face-to-face.

"I didn't realize there would be so many field trips and opportunities to meet and hang out with other kids!"

—Cecily L., Arkansas Connections Academy

A group of teenagers participating in unintentional socialization.

Participate in Sports and Group Activities

If your child is interested in a particular sport or hobby, sign them up for after-school opportunities. Ask about sports or extracurricular clubs at your local brick-and-mortar public school, as some districts allow virtual school students to participate in certain programs. You might also investigate recreational leagues in your community. Interacting with other kids who share the same interests will help your student to form positive relationships and bonds. Being part of a team teaches students the importance of working and communicating well in a group setting.

"My daughter has been a Connections Academy student since kindergarten. We fill the socializing aspect with outside activities such as Girl Scouts, bowling, archery, and softball. Your child doesn’t have to go to a traditional brick-and-mortar school to communicate with other kids or make friends. That’s why extracurricular activities are available."

—Rozanna Eckstein, Oregon Connections Academy

Join a Group for Students Who Learn from Home

If you haven’t already done so, look into a local group specifically designed for students learning from home. Participating in a group like a Learning Pod could be helpful for students who are shy or reserved or families who may not have the resources to serve as their student’s full-time Learning Coach.

"We also belong to two local homeschool groups that have other social and learning opportunities. We periodically plan outings and trips with other families."

—Jennifer Pellegrin, Louisiana Connections Academy

Stay Connected Online

Try to be more active on social media. Like and follow the Connections Academy Facebook page to see what’s going on in the school community or check to see if your school has a private Facebook group and join the conversation. You’ll find that many other online school families are looking to foster online socialization for students, too.

"I’m very pleased how engaging and interactive this school is. Teachers and school staff are very responsive and present!"

—Cristie E., Arkansas Connections Academy  

Even without learning in a physical classroom with other students, your child can have an active social life with some guidance, research, and encouragement! 

* Parents were asked to comment about their socialization experiences through Connections Academy’s Facebook app, Pointers and Praise.

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