One of the most often heard questions when considering homeschooling is, “Aren’t you worried about socialization?” I’m not sure if those questions are truly about socialization, or if they’re about socializing. There’s a big difference between the two.
While this issue of socialization seems to be on the minds of people against homeschooling, those who actually homeschool never give it much thought. They know that their children are not going to suffer by foregoing public school socialization. In fact, most homeschool children are probably better socialized than public school students.
Socialization is basically learning to conform to today’s society. What is it about homeschooling that would keep a child from learning to conform to today’s society? And do we really want children that conform and become little automatons? Or do we want children who can think for themselves while having something to offer society as a whole?
Children are little sponges, so just by being a part of a family they will begin to learn what society expects of them. The only way a child would fail to be socialized is if they were secluded away from everyone. The image of a backwoods, backwards, misfit homeschool family is just not accurate. Homeschooling families are generally active in their local communities, and often involved in volunteering to help others. These activities will help solve any socialization issues.
So if you plan to homeschool, how should you respond when asked about socialization? Are the questions really about socializing instead? Well, I can honestly say, my son is very socially well adjusted.
We live in a neighborhood with a gaggle of “alley boys” (and a sassy tag-along little sister) who love a good water fight or backyard Lego building session and we are in the process of organizing a kid’s Dungeon’s and Dragon’s group with another group of kids ranging from 7-12. My son has both homeschool and traditionally schooled kid friends who span 3 years on either side of him. He is even friends with several older ladies in our building. I’m not kidding! He has his own special relationship with them—even the ones who aren’t particularly fond of kids.
At 7 years of age he is comfortable ordering his own meal at a restaurant and usually acknowledges and thanks bus drivers for their service. I wouldn’t exactly call him outgoing (he can be shy at times) but I believe he is more socialized than the average public school kid who spends the majority of his or her day interacting with kids in a 1 year age bracket.
So, when an innocent, no-doubt well intentioned layperson pipes in with “is he a part of any social groups?”, I smoothly reply: “He has several hobbies and friends of all ages.”
When thinking about socialization, one has to wonder, are the lessons kids learn in public school really any better than what they’ll learn at home? since public schools create artificial societies which rarely mirror real life, are schools really they best place for learning socialization? In public schools children learn a lot of things from their peers which many parents would be happy to forgo.
If socialization is supposed to teach your child how to behave in society, how to properly respond to people, and be responsible adults, it isn’t very likely that a child will learn that from public school. All one has to do is go to nearly any public middle school and walk the halls. After witnessing the behavior of the students there, ask yourself which of those behaviors you would truly want your child to emulate. That should get any parent’s attention and quell any further questions or concerns about a homeschool child’s socialization.
Have you received socialization comments? How have you responded?
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