Homeschooling has become increasingly popular in the United States. Current estimates suggest that nearly 1,800,000 students are being homeschooled, approximately 3.4% of the school-age population. Parents choose to homeschool their children for many reasons, including providing religious or moral instruction, concerns about the school environment, dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available in other schools, and for the special needs of the children. Most of the data suggest that children who homeschool tend to learn more than their peers in public schools and are more likely to attend college. While there are certainly many advantages to homeschooling, one of the concerns frequently expressed is that kids who homeschool don’t have as many interactions with their peers or opportunities for specialized classes and in topics such as art, physical education, or computer training. However as parents have become more sophisticated about homeschooling, they have developed many groups, activities, and online resources to fill in these gaps.
One area where both homeschoolers and public-school students lack instruction is in the development of executive-functioning and social-emotional learning skills. There are many reasons to teach social-emotional learning skills to homeschoolers and public school students, but only a few school systems have set up specific training programs for their teachers and students to teach them the core SEL skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Many studies and experts have indicated that social-emotional learning skills will be more important for future jobs and success than traditional math, reading, and spelling skills. Their conclusions are based on the idea that jobs are going to change dramatically over the next few decades. Many roles currently served by people will be taken over by robots, technology, and artificial intelligence. However, none of these technologies can truly utilize or display social-emotional learning skills. Perhaps future scientists will be able to build these types of skills into technology, but at the present time, social-emotional learning skills are the purview of humans, and teaching these skills will be increasingly important to help children become successful as they move into the workforce.
Homeschooling provides an opportunity for parents to tailor their educational programming and courses to fit their children’s needs. In many ways, homeschooling is a better opportunity to teach social-emotional skills than public schools. Parents can work on these skills directly with their children or find specialized online training such as that offered through LW4K LIVE. There are also many other programs available on Outschool.com for other related “Life Skills” that will help kids interact with others and practice SEL skills.
However, there is a shortcoming in many homeschool settings for teaching these skills. Part of the rationale for parents to homeschool their children is to keep them away from the conflicts, controversies, and stressors that are becoming increasingly prevalent in public schools. However, it is often through dealing with some of these experiences that children have an opportunity to practice and make use of their social-emotional learning skills.
When homeschooled kids get older they are likely to join the public workforce, where they will encounter stress, distractions, and the interpersonal issues that are present in day-to-day jobs. Parents of homeschoolers often want to protect their kids from some of these stressors, but a certain level of stress inoculation is often best. As a result, an active approach that teaches social-emotional learning skills is suggested.
Here are five reasons to teach social-emotional learning SEL skills to homeschoolers:
Improve self-awareness. Work on teaching children how to recognize their emotions. Talk about how they’re feeling and ask them to understand how their thoughts are influencing their behavior. Help homeschooled children to look at their strengths and limitations based on how they doing with different types of schoolwork and what interests them the most
Encourage self-management. Don’t do everything for them. Provide them with opportunities to feel frustrated on occasion. Failure, frustration, and effort are all necessary to improve self -management. It is more important to learn the skills to handle frustration than it is to memorize content. Help them learn how they can use their frustration to improve themselves by setting goals and working towards personal achievement.
Provide opportunities for social awareness. This will require involvement with other students who are being homeschooled. Help children to recognize the different interests of their homeschooled peers and expose them to children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This will help them to become more aware of how other people have been brought up.
Go beyond the school day. Use the homeschooling groups as a chance to help children improve relationship skills. Children who engage in more unstructured activities need to adjust to the demands of others. These opportunities would also provide a chance to improve communication and listening skills.
Act out your decision-making strategies. Part of a teacher’s role in either a homeschool or public school setting is to display the rationale for making decisions. Talk to your children about being able to resist inappropriate social pressures. Help to define responsible decision-making by asking them to evaluate the consequences of their behavior based on their actions.
Social-emotional training programs are available online, where parents can be the sole teacher. Our LW4K LIVE programs use video games, apps, and other engaging materials to teach SEL skills and are ideal for homeschooling parents because we provide parents with many activities to amplify what kids are learning in our classes