Homeschool socialization

But what about socialization? This is a major concern of those who don’t homeschool. Their concern is that by not being around same age peers most of their day, homeschool children will somehow become social misfits, unable to function around others.

In fact, the opposite is true. Homeschool children aren’t limited to only same age peers, therefore, they are better able to relate to people of all ages. They are less influenced by peer pressure. They are better able to make decisions based upon their own values rather than expectations of their peers.

There is a critical difference between being social and socialization. Being social is how a person relates to others of all ages. Being social is partly genetic, but can be influenced by their environment. As parents, we can gently encourage a person who is shy to be more comfortable around groups of people by controlling what groups the child will be in. An outgoing child, usually won’t become shy by being homeschooled.

Being socialized is knowing how society expects a person to act in a given situation. We are socializing kids in public schools, not necessarily making them social. It is through socialization that most children learn bullying, prejudice, stereotypes, and peer pressure. Socialization teaches what society in general wants people to do, not necessarily what they should do. It does not take into account individual morals, but rather replaces them with group think morals (for better or worse). It changes with society and culture.

For instance, society expects rebellion in teenagers and portrays them as such. Therefore, by rebelling, teenagers are just subconsciously fulfilling society’s expectations learned through socialization. There is nothing inherent in teenage rebellion. Homeschools have the opportunity to guide teens toward independence and can better accommodate any issues they may have which could otherwise result in rebellion. I’m not saying homeschool teens never rebel, just that they are less likely to do so or to do so in a dramatic way.

Homeschool does not mean the children stay home all the time. There are numerous opportunities for homeschool children to be around other people, just not necessarily their same age peers. We take our children shopping, to parks, and have play dates with other homeschool families. Their are classes on science, writing, and other subjects to give exposure to cooperative learning designed for homeschools. Plus, they have neighborhood friends. Children do not need to be constantly surrounded by those of the same age to become well adjusted adults. In fact, those who were homeschooled are better adjusted to life after high school because they have more life skills and are better able to interact with people of all ages.

It is through constant, unstructured exposure to peer groups in schools that an outgoing child will become shy as they experience the negatives of socialization. The shy child is even less likely to “get over it” in this setting. These children may be forced outside the group. This is what makes your social misfits.

I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to understand how to be polite and thoughtful toward others. I want them to be strong in their values, not changeable with those of society. I want them to be social, not socialized.

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6 Responses

  1. You and I both know that the whole socialization issue the first thing most people ask about when they find out you are homeschooling, and it is really the least of any concern someone needs to have.

    It is so true that they benefit from being around people of all ages – this is such a good point, thanks for articulating it so perfectly.

  2. Alison,

    Actually, I’ve only had it brought up a couple of times. Perhaps because Alaska is such a pro-homeschool place. Both times was from someone not from Alaska (the most recent was someone from Europe where no one homeschools).

    Where else in life other than modern schools are we forced to be around only those exactly our same age all day? I can understand wanting to have everyone together that’s learning the same things on the same level, but even that’s a modern concept. One room schools had everyone together. The older ones helped the younger ones. That’s how life is. Even college has mixed ages.

  3. I’ve come to the point where, if someone asks, I tell them that homeschooling better socializes children [smile].

    ~Luke

  4. Luke,
    That works too. I agree. I hope you had a good summer. And thanks for linking to this page from the Sonlight webpage.

  5. I’ve just stumbled across your blog and I want to say how impressed I am by your passion for homeschooling. Here in the UK homeschooling is known as ‘education otherwise’. My three children went to state school and then I became a teaching assistant in several primary schools. I was shocked by the amount of time wasted during school hours by disruptive pupils. Most of the teacher’s time is spent in ‘crowd-control’! In retrospect, I wish I had known about this before I had my children. I would have homeschooled them myself. I was told by a mature, respected teacher in a primary school that anyone with commonsense could teach primary school children. Well, I know that to be true because as an uncertified teaching assistant I was often required to teach special needs children and on occasion to supervise the whole class.
    As for socialisation – children learn an awful lot of bad things through socialising at school!!!

  6. Kay,
    We started homeschooling for freedom of curriculum choice. Now we’re more determined to continue because of all the negatives we hear. Our local school district failed national standards for the fifth year in a row. Granted a lot has to do with Alaska’s unique circumstances and the laws not taking that into account. The law is one size fits all when in reality every school and child are unique. No one learns the same way.

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