Why your teens need a social homeschool group…and no, it’s not really just for “socialization”!
Some communities are blessed with a vibrant homeschool group with hundreds of families with every type of academic, athletic and social activity you can imagine. But many of us don’t have access to such incredible resources. As homeschool parents, we want our kids to make the most of the incredible opportunities that homeschooling provides. So if an opportunity doesn’t yet exist in your community, step out and create one.
When my two oldest were in high school, I devoted a considerable amount of time to ensure that they had a solid group of teens with similar values that they saw on a regular basis. Plus, I wanted them to have leadership roles, so we started a homeschool student council that helped to plan the social events as well as plan and implement community service projects. The student council members were also responsible for creating an atmosphere of inclusion at all of the co-op’s events.
Teens Need a Positive Homeschool Group Atmosphere
I felt it was so important that they have those leadership roles. I believed that if they were focused on and energized by engaging in the social and community service events,
In the Thriving Family article, Dr. David Clarke says “Kids who act out or make other terrible decisions often haven’t found an area of healthy competence. If your kid doesn’t find an area of positive competence, I guarantee he’ll find an area of negative competence. It’s easy to waste the precious hours of life surfing the internet, playing video games or watching TV. It’s easy to be good at drinking, drugs, stealing and cheating. Your kid will find something he’s good at, something he can use to draw attention to himself and earn approval from peers.”
That really got my attention! Our kids need a positive focus for their lives. Participation ribbons don’t build self-confidence, being good at something builds confidence.
There’s a popular meme going around that is based on a Jim Rohn quote which says that we become the average of the 5 people with whom we spend the most time. I think one of the most important things we can do is to help our teens choose the people around him or her in a wise and careful manner. And in today’s world where everyone is so addicted to social media, it’s even more critical for our teens to reach out and establish real connections with real friends.
So, what can you do if there aren’t any local groups for homeschool teens in your community?
Here’s how we grew our co-op’s teen group to be the most active group in the co-op. (It’s also the main reason most homeschooling families with teens join our co-op.) The teen group grew from less than 15 teens who regularly attended events to over 120 teens in less than seven years. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge hasn’t been a lack of parent volunteers to help coordinate and
Our group began when a homeschooling mom invited the teens to join her family in fun outings. She started with easy events such as going to the local amusement park, to a play at the college, or rock wall climbing. As the group grew, this mom organized fun events like a speed monopoly tournament, a mystery night and even a prom. The word spread about these fun events. The group soon outgrew her house so she began renting church fellowship halls for the events. The co-op board gave her a budget and more fun events were added.
Here are some of the homeschool group events our local co-op has sponsored for our teens in the past:
- (Not) Back to School Night: water games and an outdoor movie
- mini-golf/batting cages/go-carts at a local business
- Barn Dance
- Amazing Race style corn maze and bonfire
- Possum hunt and bonfire (possums are paper bags filled with caramel corn and tossed out into a pasture. These are hunted and gathered after dark using flashlights)
- Minute to Win it games and a Retro costume contest
- Night on the Town (teens dress up, go to a nice restaurant, and then attend a local play)
- Christmas party with Reindeer Games
- Speed Monopoly tournament
- English country dancing
- Themed parties like a Napoleon Dynamite movie night
- Ultimate frisbee
- Bunco tournament
- Talent Showcase
- Murder mystery party
- Truth or Dare Scavenger Hunt
- Parent’s Night Out (Teens feed & entertain the younger kids while parents enjoy an evening out)
- Super bowl party
- 1950s Sock Hop with a dance instructor
- Color Wars with outdoor games
Coordinating the Teen Homeschool Group Events
To coordinate these events the group assigned one or two parents to be in charge of each event. We send out all announcements and take RSVPs for events by e-mail. We charge each teen a very small fee per event if it’s held at a rented facility to help offset those fees. The teens all bring food to share potluck style and the co-op budget pays for paper goods and game supplies. When everyone pitches in to help, no one is overwhelmed with too much work. And I suspect that the parents helping have just as much fun at these events as their kids do! They get to know all of the teens and create memories with their teens. My oldest two and I had so many fun times at these events. Now I’m looking forward to creating more memories with the rest of my kiddos.
What fun events have your teens enjoyed? What other types of activities are you hoping to have in your community?
Look for the rest of this series of Hope and Help for Homeschooling High School:
Sorting Out AP, CLEP Testing and Dual Credit
This is an updated and revised version of an article that I originally wrote for homeschoolhelperonline. Reused with permission.