Things We Should Know About Socializing and Homeschool Communities

Liz Guerrini and her homeschooled son in various settings

Thinking about writing pragmatic goals for a homeschooled client? Here is some information that might help ahead of time.

A homeschool — like a public school or private school — is diverse in its pedagogy, curriculum, locations, educators, peers. The word ‘homeschool’ really is a misnomer. Some parents or caregivers do one subject one-on-one at home while they work with other homeschooling families in coops for other subjects or vice-versa. Some do the academic skills via online group settings similar to online CD classes. Many homeschoolers attend daily group setting classes — be it academic or music or fitness or art, etc. Many have therapies or volunteer in the community and have more flexible hours in doing so.

Laurie Olsen wrote a superb book based on a longitudinal study done in Berkeley, CA, called ‘Made in America’ and it discussed school settings which assumed interaction among kids. Her conclusion was that just because kids are in a class setting or school recess setting with other kids doesn’t mean that they are socialized. She gave examples of the child who goes to recess and is completely alone despite being with other children (e.g. sitting on the bench alone day after day, or isn’t called on in class, etc). Defining socializing and using interventions for socializing must be put in place whether it is on the public or private school lot, homeschool backyard or nearby park.

One way to address pragmatic goals for the homeschooled child is to see where SLP goals can be put into action. For instance, if the child is homeschooled one-one for core academic areas in order to achieve curriculum content, find  areas in the day or week where the child can practice pragmatic goals. It could be within a large private class setting — or even recruiting some of the classmates that become friends and play in the park after class ends. Playing games that involve turns with these kids, be they ball games, card or board games, etc, would also provide some wonderful opportunities to implement pragmatic goals. Many parents of typical children welcome these opportunities to help their children’s peers who have ASD with pragmatic challenges, for example, or other speech-language goals in need of peer assistance.

The key is to find the areas of socializing that occur during the week — and use these as those goal opportunities on a consistent basis. Ask about the times of the week where the child is in group settings — and if the child is not involved in any group setting at all during the week then encourage them to find a consistent group setting during the week so that pragmatic goals can be implemented for desired outcomes. In need of role model examples of homeschooled kids? For starters, Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin did pretty well pragmatically. As SLPs we can seek out non-traditional ways of inserting pragmatic goals for our kids regardless of the academic setting.

Liz Guerrini has been a K-12 and college teacher for the past 18 years and is entering her final graduate year in Communicative Disorders at CSUN. She’s an Olympian who finds many applications of her sport world to the teaching and therapy worlds. She home-schools her bright and beautiful son who lives with trisomy 2, severe dysarthria, severe CAS, hearing loss, ASD and hypotonia. She is a member of ASHA’s Minority Student Leadership Program. Liz blogs at  Christopher DaysSLP to-Be and the Signing Time Academy.