Homeschooling and Socialization

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One of the most common generalizations or concerns regarding homeschooled students relates to the question of socialization.For some reason it is commonly thought that homeschooled children suffer because they do not spend their days in classrooms with children of all the same age. Most experienced homeschooled families will claim the opposite, that because of all the additional time available to homeschooled children, and the fact that they are generally around children and adults of all ages, their socialization can be vastly superior to the average child.

No study I am aware of has ever shown homeschooled students to lack in true socialization skills. However, if a specific child is withheld from interaction with others because of a parent’s own lack of sociability or strict beliefs, it can cause problems for any child, homeschooled or not.

Unfortunately, this generalization that homeschooled children suffer from a lack of socialization is perhaps the most persistent myth that new homeschooling families encounter. Often this conflict will be present even within the homeschooled child’s extended family. It is hard for a homeschool opponent to argue with the generally excellent academic and behavioral aspects of homeschooled children. However it seems easier for some people to ignore the evidence and claims of homeschooling families and believe that homeschooled children are somewhat deprived socially because they don’t spend all their weekday hours in a typical American school. Contrary to this belief, homeschooling families often believe the public education system of grouping all students together simply because of their age is dated, and not what is best for learning and socialization.

For example, the typical 7th grade classroom may often have students performing from the 4th grade level to the high school level. In addition this classroom may be overcrowded and the teacher, competent or not, overwhelmed. In addition, the setup of our public elementary and middle schools forces the separation of children by age and not interest or ability. Children in 6th grade do not generally interact much with 5th or 7th grade students and certainly have little or no interaction at all with kindergarten or high school students.

My personal opinion is that in socialization, like so much in children’s lives, the role of the parent and family is a main determining factor. I have known a few homeschooled children that seem lacking in social skills just as I have known some “normally” schooled children with the same deficiencies. However, my personal experience leads me to believe the typical homeschooled child is more mature socially at any given age that the typical non-homeschooled child.

Some, (not all), of my children’s non-homeschooled friends often grumbled about kids in grades above or below their own being a pain. They also sometimes complained about their own and their friend’s younger and older siblings. These are issues that I have rarely seen in homeschooled children. I have been at homeschool meetings where a 15 year old boy will offer, (right in front of his friends), to take his baby brother off his Mother’s hands and take him to the bathroom to change his diaper so his Mother can continue to attend the meeting uninterrupted. No one present, adult or child, even gives this sort of thing a second thought. At these meetings and gatherings it is also common to see children of toddler to teen ages interacting positively in the same group.

The nuances of socialization can be taught to any child, homeschooled or not. For many reasons, however, homeschooled children seem to advance faster in their socialization and maturity than their non-homeschooled peers.

So, if you are considering homeschooling, be prepared to have the issue of socialization brought up by family and friends. At first you will need to explain that you have researched and read about the issue, talked to other homeschoolers, and are comfortable that it will not be a problem. After time observing the progress of your own children and spending time with other homeschooled children, you may find yourself responding as I now do, gently suggesting that anyone who believes the myth of socialization and homeschooling, do their own research and observation. Unless they have an agenda that prevents them from being impartial, they will usually come to see this myth as just an old, inaccurate stereotype that should have no place in the concerns of homeschooling families today.

Here are a few interesting links. A Google search will turn up enough additional reading for a week!

An essay written by a homeschooled student heading to college

Seattle Times Editorial

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Will Sig
1 Pistolpete

Yes, the whole “socialization” issue can be quite a hoot for us homeschool parents. For a humorous take on “socialization”, check out my recent post “Homeschool Hostages” on my blog “Necessary Therapy”.

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2 Homeschooling

The topic on socialization for home school children has always been a point of debate for many. I think homeschooling can be a rewarding experience for many families. However, there needs to be an increased oversight to ensure that the process of homeschooling is not conducted in isolation. Homeschooling kids can be involved in socialization with other homeschool kids in the neighborhood. Getting a local homeschool support group is important and the kids can meet once every week to play. Even better, the play time can be used as ‘homeschool physical education’ or perhaps an outdoor excursion.

Timm
.-= Homeschooling´s last blog ..Dec 27, Reasons to homeschool ? =-.

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3 Will

There is no concern at all in the homeschooling community about socialization. The concern arises from those who do not homeschool or from those just beginning. Some speak of “isolation”, but that type of abuse can happen regardless of homeschooling status. Socialization is not an issue in the homeschooling community. Homeschooled children have so much more time to spend in the community and on extracurricular activities that parents need to be careful to not stretch their homeschooled children too thin.

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4 Kristina

We have done all types of schooling: charter, private and homeschooling. Yes, it’s easier for kids to see their “friends” at public school type settings. But when we homeschool, my kids make friends in the neighborhood, thereby creating opportunities for us to know our neighbors and what’s going on in the neighborhood. Also, they are involved in sports camps, church activities, 4-H, etc. They get as much “socialization” as any child but without the stress and problems that can come with public school “socialization”.
.-= Kristina´s last blog ..Jun 6, E book reader – its the wave of the future and your kids will probabl =-.

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5 Will

Exactly, Kristina. I wonder how those e-readers will hold up to the abuse kids can put on a favorite book. I remember books that were so used and read that they were eventually tattered remnants of their original selves!

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6 Kristina

Will, I agree. My son’s iPod touch has already been through the wash and dryer and thankfully still works!! My kids read so much though that it would be very handy to haul an eReader about rather than a backpack full of books on many occasions. But, like I said on our site, I truly hope all this technology doesn’t put our beloved paper books out of circulation-that would be a sad day indeed.
.-= Kristina´s last blog ..Jun 6, E book reader – its the wave of the future and your kids will probabl =-.

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7 Jennifer

The topic of socialization can effectively be turned around to the “other side”. I have been working on a brochure to hand out to family and anyone we meet about why we homeschool and the advantages, etc. Here’s my paragraph about this subject:
“Socialized does not mean civilized. The kind of socializing going on in public school circles hardly resembles what we consider worthwhile. It’s downright unacceptable. The assumedly narrow-minded, friend-starved, homebound homeschooled kids are typically well adjusted, better behaved, and socially adept. They can relate to all types of people and are not wrapped up in anti-social cliques. They are not confined to a classroom (or house) and have freedom to explore and discover. Socialization is a serious and often downplayed issue in American public schools.”
Jennifer recently posted..Increase Search Engine Ratings with Value ExchangeMy Profile

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8 Will

You are correct Jennifer. But you know this because you homeschool and are around lots of homeschooled kids. Really, at the risk of being too blunt, the socialization myth arises out of ignorance on the part of people who just think they know something that they don’t.

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9 John

I don’t particularly understand the concept of homeschooling unless you want your children to become antisocial and unready to meet the real world. While schools sure have their problems, they teach you a lot more about the world and how things work than standard issue home class. It’s ok to take care of your children but homeschooling them is most definitely not one of them.

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10 Will

Hi John – Did you read the article? Every study shows the exact opposite of what you think to be true.

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