The Growing Number of Young Students in Online Schools Need to Have Opportunities to Connect Socially and Develop Vital Social Skills
For many children, a large part of their socialization comes from their school community. They’re in a classroom with 20 or more of their peers and can participate in after-school and extracurricular activities to expand their social networks even more. Interacting in person with other kids their age can certainly help students connect, but there are several other ways for them to build friendships outside of the traditional school setting.
Students who are enrolled in online charter schools don’t have to miss out on that type of community. There are many online and IRL (in real life) ways for them to meet their peers and make friends. Here are just a few approaches to help your student, online or otherwise, get social.
1. Project Noah
Kids who are curious about nature and love the outdoors will be able to connect and learn from each other—and actual scientists—on Project Noah. The online community encourages students to collect and share data about species diversity; they can upload images and locations of organisms they’ve spotted and participate in larger group efforts. Students get the chance to engage in research and be a part of a global scientific community.
EduBlogs is a rich, easy-to-use blogging tool that makes it easy for students and teachers to connect and publish writing. The platform—which is hosted by WordPress—offers privacy controls and gives teachers the ability to moderate comments and content to keep the online environment safe and respectful. It gives students a place to share their thoughts and ideas, and connect with their peers through reading what they have to say as well.
3. Sit With Us
Sit With Us is a social app created to help kids find a place to sit at lunch. The idea behind it is to promote kindness and inclusion through connection. After registering, students can create a profile and chat with the new friends they make through the program. Once they’re active on the app, students can search for tables welcoming others or open their table to invite others to sit with them, making meaningful relationships in the process.
Book clubs can be a great way for students to analyze and discuss the literature they’re reading. With Goodreads, students can be a part of the largest online community of readers. Not only does the site give students the chance to interact online through book reviews and recommendations, they can actually find and join groups based on categories and common interests.
5. Harry Potter Alliance
It’s no secret that literature is a great way for students to connect, and certain books or series—like Harry Potter—bring them together even closer. The goals of the Harry Potter Alliance are to empower students, help them find their voice, and use that voice to change the world for the better. Just like Dumbledore's Army fought for unity and justice in the books, members of the HPA are encouraged to get involved with charity drives, protests, and online campaigns that help make the world a better place.
6. Study Blue
Studyblue provides its student with an interactive approach to studying. The website currently offers more than 1.5 million pieces of content in the form of community-driven flashcards, forums, and study guides. Students can use this platform to create and animate study materials, track their progress, and ask each other questions related to various subjects.
7. Chess Club
Some schools offer a chess club for students to challenge each other and get better at the game. Online students have the same opportunity via the Internet Chess Club (ICC). The organization offers students the ability to learn more about the rules of the game, practice drills, watch video lessons, sign up for private lessons, and play in tournaments against other users. It’s also a safe space for students to interact; its special chat system only allows predetermined phrases like, “nice move” or “good game.”
8. Sports Clubs
Many students enroll in an online or homeschool program to focus more on their extracurricular passions, such as sports. But even students who aren’t so athletically inclined can benefit from team activities. Community centers often host seasonal leagues that allow students to meet their peers and have some fun on the field or court.
Again, there are several students who choose an alternative education so they can spend more time pursuing their interests like music. While many of these students participate in individualized instruction or private lessons, music also offers the opportunity to work together. Signing them up for a youth orchestra gives them a sense of comradery and helps them make new friends.
10. Church Groups
For students who are part of a religious organization, youth groups can be a support system and place to connect. Many of these groups will participate in outreach or community service programs and offer safe, fun activities on a regular basis.
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