Does Homeschooling Create Shyness? Homeschooling and Socialization
Many people worry that the supposed lack of homeschooling socialization opportunities will create shy kids. In fact, the opposite is true.
Can Homeschooling Cause Shyness?
Can the supposed lack of homeschooling socialization opportunities create shy kids?
First of all, there is no lack of socialization opportunity in homeschool. (See How to Socialize for Homeschoolers for examples.)
But still, it is perfectly true that no matter how many outside social opportunities homeschoolers take advantage of, they are not with a large group of kids all day, every day, the way students are in institutional schools.
So the question is: is it possible that children who are somewhat disposed toward shyness will be pushed into shyness by being homeschooled, but would be pulled out of shyness by being placed into an institutional school setting?
Image source: The Homeschool Shop
Shy Kids in Public Schools
If homeschooling creates shyness, then ...
This idea that shy homeschooled kids are shy because of homeschooling contains a very big, if unspoken, assumption: institutional schools have no shy kids.
Well, are there any shy kids in institutional schools, whether public schools or private? Here's a shocking fact: yes, there are! How did that happen, if homeschooling causes shyness? And if shy homeschoolers should be put in school to make them not shy, then what should we do with shy public schoolers?
The truth is, homeschooling does not cause shyness. Many things can contribute to shyness, but at least one causative factor is forcing introverts into social situations where they cannot retreat when they feel overwhelmed. Situations like, I don't know, forcing them to be with hundreds of other kids all day, every day, with nowhere to go to get away from bullying, unkindness, or even just the relentless school-day hustle and bustle that is so draining to the introvert.
How do I know that being forced into unwanted social situations can cause shyness?
Well, it did for me.
Why Are Shy Kids Shy?
Should we keep kids from becoming introverts so they won't be shy?
Most people hear "introvert" and think "shy," but that is not quite the case. Introverts are certainly more likely to be shy than extroverts; but an extrovert can be shy, and an introvert can be not shy. Introverts usually are more comfortable in one-on-one situations than in crowds and need more alone time, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are shy.
EXTROVERSION: the state of being concerned primarily with things outside the self, with the external environment rather than with one's own thoughts and feelings.
INTROVERSION: the act of directing one's interest inward or to things within the self.
SHYNESS: bashful and retiring; or easily frightened away and timid.
So introverts are not just shy extroverts!
Extroverts are externally focused (doers) while introverts are internally focused (thinkers). Introverts are perhaps more likely to be shy, but it is not an automatic condition; conversely, extroverts can be shy but by nature are probably less likely to be.
My Experience as an Introvert and a Shy Girl
I'm an introvert, and I'm not shy. But I used to be.
Shyness and introversion are not the same thing, but they are often close companions. I was born an introvert. I became shy in third grade, and I very deliberately worked myself out of my shyness over a three- or four-year period as a young adult. But I'm still an introvert and always will be.
Introverts do not enjoy social chit-chat, not necessarily because they are shy but because they prefer more meaningful conversations. Forced into an unceasing social milieu (such as institutional school) where lightweight chit-chat reigns supreme and anyone who doesn't participate is automatically labeled "odd," shyness may develop.
In my own case, my family moved around a lot. If we hadn't moved between my second and third grade years, perhaps I might not have developed shyness, but we moved, and I did.
I remember the first day of my second-grade year: I walked into the class, saw a new girl, and thought, "She looks interesting!" so I went and sat down beside her and asked her name. We became best friends.
We moved that summer, and the new school situation combined most likely with the increasing self-awareness of age caused a loss of confidence in my ability to make new friends. I walked into my third-grade room, saw a girl across the room and thought, "She looks interesting!" but I couldn't imagine sitting down next to her and asking her name. I turned and walked to the other side of the room and sat down, and rarely exchanged more than a hello with that girl for the rest of my career in that school system.
The Introvert Advantage
|The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World|
Workman Publishing Company
If you are an introvert, or have an introverted child or partner, you need to read this book!
Are you the one out of every four individuals who prefers to listen rather than speak and avoid the spotlight? Do you need plenty of "down" time to recharge your batteries, which are drained by too much social time? Congratulations, you're an introvert!
Dr. Laney first dispels the common myths about introverts (are shy, don't like to talk, are rude, don't like people or public places, always want to be alone, can be "fixed" to become extroverts), then focuses on the strengths of the introvert and provides tools for improving relationships and social interactions with extroverts and other introverts. This remarkable book is necessary reading for any introvert, parent of an introvert, or extrovert who wants to understand introverts.
Most of what I say on this page is my personal experience and common sense, but if you want to understand more about the subject of introversion and shyness, read this book!
There's nothing wrong with being introverted!
Neither E=mc2 nor ‘Paradise Lost’
was dashed off by a party animal.
~ Winifred Gallagher, science journalist
My Experience as a Mother of Introverts
Three of my four children are introverts.
I have four children. My youngest, seven at this writing, is an all-out extrovert who tires the rest of us out. My three older children all fall in varying places somewhere on the introvert side of the scale ... but none of them are shy.
Would they be shy if they were in public school? It's impossible to say, of course, but certainly the possibility is there. One of my children has mild Asperger syndrome (high-functioning autism), but instead of being a social outcast as such children often are, has a wide and stable circle of friends; has frequent social interactions with them such as field trips, parties, and sleepovers; and even more frequent interactions with them online, writing stories and drawing together.
But ... Introverts Must Learn to Deal with Social Situations!
Introverts should go to school so they'll have socialization opportunities, right?
Wrong. Yes, of course introverts need to learn to deal with social situations, but they don't need to attend an institutional school to do that. In fact, as we've already noted, it often can hinder social development. Shy kids who feel certain they will have a retreat when they need it are more likely to outgrow their shyness - as I did, once I was out of the artifical social environment of public school.
As an adult introvert, I move in social situations where I am comfortable. I'm actually the leader of my local homeschool support group and new members are often shocked to learn I am an introvert, as I welcome them as new members and have no trouble conversing at length (often too much length) about homeschooling practice and advice. Like most introverts, I can talk quite easily about things that are real and interesting to me. I can still freeze and appear shy in some social situations (such as my husband's office parties), but I've learned some social tricks to deal with my own difficulties in this area.
I worked several jobs before I stayed home to have children, and despite recently outgrown shyness, was fully capable of functioning in the social work world. I found jobs that suited my personality, working quietly in proofreading and editing.
But ... School Teaches How to Deal with Difficult Social Situations!
Everyone should know how to deal with bullying and other situations.
An adult in a situation with a bully or other uncomfortable social situation should certainly be able to deal with it. In school days, all most of us can do is learn to bear it. But adults have the power to change their situation. A complaint to a superior or a move to another department is sometimes possible; and in worse situtations, one can get a restraining order, institute a lawsuit for harassment, or even have the offender arrested. Quitting the job is also a possibility.
In no case should an adult feel constrained to stay in a bullying situation ... unless perhaps the adult had been conditioned to accept such things as "normal" somehow.
Shy Kids in Homeschool
There are still shy kids who homeschool.
Of course there are homeschoolers who are shy kids. There are many causes of shyness, and being forced into the social stew of public schools is only one possible factor in its development. The point is, homeschooling neither causes nor prevents shyness, just as institutional schooling is neither the cause nor the cure of shyness. Either could be a contributing factor, as public school was in my own case, but some kids will be shy no matter what their social situation; other kids will never develop shyness no matter what their social situation.
Research on Homeschooling Socialization
The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling
|The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling|
Mapletree Publishing Co.
More About Homeschooling and Socialization!
This article is one of a series on homeschoolers and socialization skills.
Resources: Homeschooling, Socialization, and Shyness
"I just don’t understand the perspective that it’s important that young children have the personality trait of going up to complete strangers and being able to talk to them – or rather *wanting* to talk to them. How is that a “better” social trait than to stand back until one has become comfortable with someone before talking to them? Especially for children?"
"Homeschooling can help shy children to become well-adjusted and confident in social settings by allowing them to develop social skills at a pace that suits their individual needs."
"The best way to help him out of his shyness and anxieties would be to homeschool him and gradually and tactfully expose and support him to mingle and interact with others."
"Thrusting a child into the crowded hallways of school can be quite overwhelming for them and they may end up having social anxiety attacks."
"While most parents agree that it is important to provide their homeschooled child with plenty of opportunities for peer interaction, it can be difficult if your child is naturally shy and reserved. Here are some tips on how to help your shy child become more comfortable in social situations."
A collection of the very best sassy answers to the "S" question on t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and more gear for homeschoolers!