How do students get socially connected in an online school?

One of my favorite questions that I get asked often is “how do your children socialize in an online school?” We are virtual after all, so how do virtual school students make connections and build relationships?  And do virtual school students have the same social opportunities that brick and mortar students have?

Here’s the shortlist of social opportunities that COVA students can participate in:

School clubs
School-wide field trips
Field trips specific to a region
HS/MS Dances
Student Government
National Honor Society
Meet and Greets
Field Day
HS Graduation
MS Continuation
Kindie Graduation
Online school community
Science Olympiad
Destination Imagination
Regional Spelling Bee
Geography Bee
Gifted and Talented programs

And now COVA students even have the opportunity to participate in INTERNATIONAL CLUBS. There are over 25 different club offerings. It doesn’t matter where you live in the nation or in the world, there’s bound to be a club of interest for everyone.

And don’t forget that students…
 have the opportunity to participate in their extracurricular activities.
 have the chance to get involved in community volunteer opportunities.
 can take advantage of the numerous social interactions offered by home-educated programs.
 connect with neighborhood friends.
 will still maintain their old friendships while building new ones.

Parents definitely play an integral part in facilitating friendships, especially in the early years, but students have to make it happen too by taking advantage of those opportunities that they are presented with and by making other opportunities happen by taking the initiative.

It’s important to remember that when you bring your children home to educate them, whether in a traditional home school setting or an online school model, arranging a social life goes hand in hand with a schooling from home plan.

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  1. My nieces all home school their children, not using the online school, but traditional home schooling. They are so socially connected with other home schooled children, that it makes me laugh when people mention that socialization thing! They all have friends and activities that keep them connected the same as public schoolers do.
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  2. Excellent blog, Lori. I really can't believe in this day and age we are still having the socialization debate.

  3. Well said, Katlupe. I agree that "They all have friends and activities that keep them connected the same as public schoolers do." And what's interesting for online schoolers is that we are public schoolers.
    My recent post How do students get socially connected in an online school

  4. I can't believe we're still having this debate either, but it's the stereotype that we spend our days isolated from society!
    My recent post How do students get socially connected in an online school

  5. Great blog Lori! Jessica actually has more time for friends and community service because of the flexibility of online school.

  6. To be perfectly honest, they probably get an opportunity to socialize with people of all ages more often than kids in a brick and mortar school where grade levels are pretty contained.
    I love that you addressed this, but am surprised that it's still coming up.
    Though, I do have a friend who is homeschooling her six children and they are pretty isolated. They leave the public park around the time school gets out so they won't be exposed to our trashy kids, lol.
    It's a choice. Like you said, it's part of your plan when you bring them home to educate them. The nice thing is, you probably have a little more say so over what they are exposed to than I do.
    Question, do you think that the families that participate in your school are more well educated and where would you say they stand economically? I know that seems an odd question, but I wonder if this appeals more to people who can afford to have a parent at home. And, I wonder if more educated families see this alternative as a real opportunity to open more doors. I'm certainly not asking from an "elitist" point of view. I hope that question doesn't sound offensive. It's not meant that way at all! 😀

  7. Great questions, Lula Lola. Personally, I don’t think students who school in an online model are necessarily more well educated than brick and mortar students. For that matter I don’t think the ‘type’ of school has an impact on the level of education one particular student receives, but rather the student himself, the support that student receives, and the opportunity to choose which education model works best does have an impact.

    My recent post How do students get socially connected in an online school

  8. In an online model students are able to each have an individualized learning plan, school at their own pace, and have the flexibility to school when they want. There is no “seat time”. In a brick and mortar school students may physically be there in class, but are they really learning at that particular time? In the online model not only do students school when they are ready to learn, but their courses are arranged by parents and/or the student to best fit the student’s learning needs and style. So if it works best for your child to tackle math first thing and science waits until Dad gets home, then you have that option.

  9. I strongly believe that parents play a very important role as Learning Coach and/or Mentor for their child in an online school. Sometimes we as parents go that extra mile of living on one income in order to make this type of education possible. I know some families who are fortunate to have grandma or grandpa step in for part of the day and that helps to create a schedule that works for the working parent(s) and the child, and I have several friends who work from home in order to make this type of schooling work for their family.

    To answer your question on where families stand economically, I think you will find families from a very diverse economic background enrolling in online schools.

    We all want the best possible education for our children. It’s necessary and vital that parents are informed about the choices they have available in their state so they can choose what will work best for their child in order to get a quality education.

  10. I hope it's okay to respond via email. The thing I'm wondering is are the parents more educated going in, therefore more interested in other options. Perhaps better options.
    How many kids take advantage of this option in your community? And is it in your community only, or statewide?
    Sorry to pick your brain, I just find it so interesting.

    Subject: Lori replied to your comment on How do students get socially connected in an online school?

  11. Let me know if that e-mail helps to better understand. 🙂
    My recent post How do students get socially connected in an online school

  12. I had NO idea that there were so many social opportunities for home school kids! That is really cool!
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