There is one question that seems to always surround the concept of homeschooling. This is the question of socialization and whether homeschooled children are missing out. It is a question that has become a running joke amongst homeschoolers themselves.
The Homeschooling Socialization Myth
While there are a lot of homeschooling socialization myths that circulate among communities and networks that support public education, the main one has to do with socialization. These people seem to think that all homeschoolers either belong to religious sects or are abusing their children and want to keep the child segregated from other children.
However, the truth is that most homeschool families have chosen this method of education in order to provide their children with the best academic opportunities possible. Some people will still argue that the family is harming their children by segregating them from what society deems to be an acceptable social situation for youth (i.e. public school classrooms).
These people seem to believe that homeschooled children will grow up socially inept because they were denied the right to attend a public school classroom that is filled with their peers. Homeschooling and social skills are all part of the learning process.
Ending The Myth Of Un-Socialization and Homeschooling
In order to put an end to this myth, it is important to look at the true definition of socialization. According to Dictionary.com, this term is defined as “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behaviors and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.”
There are a few keywords contained within this definition that give insight into why homeschool does not hinder a child’s ability to socialize. These words are: “individual,” “continuing” and “personal identity.” All of these characteristics of socialization carry a lot of value within the homeschool world. In fact, a lot of parents have chosen to homeschool their children because of the opportunities that this environment offers their child.
Whenever the question of socialization is brought up, the real question seems to be: “If your child doesn’t attend public school, how can they possibly relate to their peers?” The next question is, “If the child is always at home how can they learn to behave and act in public?”
This often leads these parents to want to explain what true socialization actually means and what the differences are between socialization and the act of being social. They will then point out that it is a myth that homeschooled children are unable to socially interact with acceptable peer groups.
Why Socialization For Homeschoolers Is Such A Big Concern?
You will find that most homeschoolers will readily admit that socialization is an important part of their child’s education. In most cases, parents have chosen to homeschool because they have a strong desire to raise and educate happy, well-adjusted children who are capable of functioning and getting along with their peers in the “real world.” Homeschooling and social skills are very important.
Therefore, the concern about socialization or social skills really isn’t necessary, since the average homeschooled child will have many opportunities to socialize just because of the type of education he is receiving.
The real problem rests in the inability of those who choose to give their children a public school education to actually see how a child is being educated and allowed to socialize in a homeschool environment. However, they can see the public school system at work through the many checks and balances that have been imposed upon it.
These same families are not able to watch a family homeschool and this can thus lead to a stereotypical image of homeschooling. This is because, unfortunately, homeschooling is not widely publicized and there is no television show running on public cable that offers people a look at the lives of homeschoolers.
Therefore, these folks’ lives tend to remain a mystery to curious onlookers. This only serves to spark fear whenever it comes to homeschooling and one of those main fears is about children having a lack of socialization. Social skills are important for all of us.
How Homeschool Socialization Happens
Most children, teens, and family members who have chosen to homeschool do come together to form local learning groups. These groups will then meet for field trips, spend the day together at local zoos or science centers and take classes together. Many public schools will also offer homeschoolers the opportunity to attend one or more classes or special programs.
Oftentimes these homeschoolers will then choose to participate in music, sports or other types of extracurricular opportunities. So, clearly there are a lot of different types of opportunities for homeschoolers to engage in where socialization occurs. Of course, there is also plenty of time to spend quality time with siblings and other family members.
Teaching social skills and learning social skills are important for all of us, not just homeschoolers. There are many social skills activities and social skills games for all of us.
Homeschoolers Are Better Socialized And More Mature
In the end, the truth is that homeschool children are actually better socialized and most of them are even more mature than their peers who attend public school. Thomas Smedley at the Radford University of Virginia did one study. In his master’s thesis, entitled “The Socialization of Homeschool Children ,” he actually wrote that “home-schooled children were better socialized and more mature than the children in the public school.” Now if that doesn’t speak volumes about homeschool socialization, nothing does.