Homeschooling Socialization: An Oxymoron?
Homeschooling & socialization is like peanut butter & old shoes, according to most people! In reality, the peanut butter of homeschool goes great with the jelly of socialization.
The "S" Question
Everyone's first question to homeschoolers is always "what about socialization?"
If you homeschool your children, or if you are homeschooled, then you have surely heard the "S" question: but what about socialization? It seems that most people who don't homeschool think of it almost as a "gotcha!" question - unanswerable, and as such, a complete reason in itself not to homeschool.
But every homeschooler knows that socialization is pretty much a nonissue - socialization in homeschools happens naturally and in a much more productive and beneficial way than can ever happen in the fabricated environment of an institutional school.
The Truth About Homeschool and Socialization
Institutional schools do not offer socialization in a real-world setting.
The truth is, the "socialization" that takes place in public schools is frequently negative and even at its best, does not give children a true picture of relationships in that oft-cited paradigm, "the real world."
There is only one place in the "real world" of adult life where a person has no choice but to "socialize" with a specific set of persons and no ability to leave an undesirable social situation, and that is behind prison bars.
Forcing children to "socialize" only within a narrow age range, and with the same set of persons day in, day out, with little more escape than a prison term offers, is not a picture of the real world and does not actually convey a healthy set of skills to deal with the real world once they are out in it.
Homeschooled children, on the other hand, deal with the real world from day one. They learn to socialize from family, of course; but also in all sorts of real-world social settings from the grocery store to the playground at the park, and from all ages of people from children much younger than they to adults and even the elderly.
The Social Benefits of Homeschooling
"Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled ..." Rachel Gathercole, a ten-year veteran of homeschooling, thoroughly refutes the common misconceptions surrounding socialization and homeschooling.
|The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling|
Homeschooling and Socialization: Your Opinion?
Can homeschooled kids get plenty of good socialization?
No, school socialization is still the gold standard because ...
Yes, it is easy for homeschoolers to get plenty of socialization!
"Research examining home-schooled students’ academic achievements have consistently found that they score higher than the national norms on standard achievement tests. So the only grenade left to throw at home-schooling parents is that they are hurting their children socially and emotionally."
~ Dr. Laura, Home-schooling Does Not Hamper Socialization
Why Is Homeschooling Negatively Associated with Socialization?
Why is the socialization question treated like an unaswerable problem?
Why does the non-homeschooling community automatically assume that homeschoolers cannot possibly be properly socialized? Probably because, as children, most of us were raised in an institutional school setting, and it is all we know. All of our friends were met at school ... so if children don't go to school, how will they meet other children?
Well, guess what? People who choose to homeschool love their children and want them to have friends, too. And the parents want friends too - friends who won't be always nagging them about why their kids aren't in school. So in a perfectly natural progression of events, most homeschooling families seek out and find other homeschooling families.
Homeschool groups are formed on a variety of bases: families who use the same curriculum, or who have children of the same ages, or who live in a close geographic area, or who want a study club, or who want to go on field trips together (with the group discount!), or who just want to get together at the park for ... wait for it ... social time.
However they choose to do it, homeschoolers find each other and kids get play time. My own four children, who have never been inside a school building, have been involved for years with their homeschooled peers in art classes, theatrical productions, science co-ops, park play groups, craft clubs, book discussion groups, and too many other social activities to mention.
Every other homeschool family I know is involved in all those activities too. Though new people come into our group every year, or move out of town (just as new people come into and leave schools), my family's local homeschool group has been a stable group of friends - for myself and for my children - for ten years.
This doesn't even take into account all of the other social outlets available to all children: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4H, sports teams, church groups, community activities, and, of course, kids around the neighborhood. In fact, homeschooled children often have more time and ability to take advantage of social opportunities - such as community theater, choir, volunteerism, and the like - and they also find a much broader range of people with whom to socialize. "Socialization" means learning to get along in the real world, with people in a variety of age groups, not only with people born within twelve months of their own birthdays.
As I tell people who ask me about socialization for homeschooled kids: It is less a question of working hard to find enough social opportunities for the kids than it is a question of turning down enough social opportunities to find enough time to stay home and do some lessons!
More About Homeschooling and Socialization!
This article is one of a series on homeschoolers and socialization skills.
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Homeschooling and Socialization Go Together Like T-shirts and Torsos!
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