“Well, my only problem with homeschooling is the lack of socialization,” is by far the most common argument I’ve personally heard against homeschooling from non-homeschoolers.
Most people are worried about the social status of homeschooled kids and view school and peer interaction as critical when it comes to socialization.
And you know what???
Yes, socialization CAN be a big problem when you homeschool.
Sometimes we take whole days off and just chill at home to take a break from all that socializing. It can get pretty exhausting!
Homeschooled kids are sheltered and not properly socialized. If you homeschool, your children will not be adequately socially equipped. They will be shy. They will have no friends. They’ll be super-awkward weirdos unable to fend for themselves.
We’re being brainwashed. Homeschooled kids aren’t less socialized, they’re just socialized differently.
SOCIALIZATION in TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS
The current system is breeding compliant and passive students who are managed by bells and strict schedules and taught to move in quiet single-file lines.
In reality, school seems to be more about de-socialization than socialization.
Think about what kids typically hear at school…
- You’re here to learn, not to socialize! Please sit down and be quiet.
- This conversation will have to wait until school is over.
- Do not talk during class.
- Form lines. Quietly.
- Walk slowly and be quiet.
- Be quiet in the lunch room.
None of that exactly screams socialization, does it?
And it makes sense.
The main reason kids go to school is to learn. Not to socialize.
The bulk of school time is filled by instructional time during which kids are expected to be quiet. There are also tests. And test preps. Many tests and many test preps (courtesy of Common Core) which require silence as well.
Silence seems to be the common denominator when it comes to school. Almost as if socialization was strictly prohibited. Or at least strongly discouraged…?
Then there is age segregation.
Getting separated by age means being socialized with assigned peers due to forced proximity. The problem is, you can’t learn valuable social skills in a room full of people with the same general inexperience level.
It just doesn’t happen.
This kind of artificial separation doesn’t take place in the real world beyond school, and it doesn’t teach kids how to interact with other age groups and adults, a skill many kids and young people these days lack.
Where is all that socialization that homeschooled kids are missing out on???
Students may be allowed to talk during class projects and assignments as long as the conversation stays on topic, sure.
There is recess, though many schools have shortened recess or combined it with lunch to create more room for learning (and more time for testing). Some schools went a step further and got rid of recess altogether despite of the alarming statistics on childhood obesity and the obvious physical and psychological benefits of recess.
Lunch? I don’t know what’s worse – the increasingly popular silent lunch or the average length of school lunch time…?
And then there is forced association, conformity, peer pressure, bullying, and teasing.
HOMESCHOOLING and SOCIALIZATION
How do homeschoolers socialize? Do they socialize???
There is a huge difference in the way homeschoolers spend their days.
For one thing, the schedule of a homeschooler tends to be flexible enough to allow for other activities besides school. Unless you live on a secluded remote island, that probably means people.
Homeschooled kids aren’t stuck in classrooms all day long which gives them ample opportunities for meaningful interactions with other people. People of all ages, ethnicities, and abilities. Which is kind of what functioning in the real world is all about.
So… How exactly do homeschoolers socialize?
First of all, there is talking. Lots of talking. (Sometimes it seems like it never really ends.) Whether it’s a conversation between family members, with friends or with someone else, there rarely is a quiet time.
The single most common and the easiest source of socialization among homeschoolers are homeschool support groups and co-ops. Depending on the structure, the size of the group and the interest of its members, there will be few or many activities and classes to choose from.
There are get-togethers and playdates when conventional schools are holding students hostage.
Homeschoolers meet with friends, they go on field trips, they volunteer, they attend homeschool and regular after-school classes and activities and community events.
Plain and simple: homeschooling families have the option to participate in as many or as few activities as they choose. It is their choice, but the possibilities are definitely there.
Are homeschooled kids different from traditionally-schooled peers?
Homeschooled kids might be considered odd by definition.
And maybe they really are.
I mean, they ARE the odd fish swimming in a large, standardized social pool.
They aren’t pushed, shoved, and forced to fit the arbitrary social mold of their peers.
These kids might actually have a chance to be themselves.
Isn’t that awesome?
They may not be totally up on what’s considered cool. You know, brands, TV shows, celebrities and such.
They may not dress in what the popular crowd expects.
They may have odd interests that fall outside of the mainstream.
But they’re not sheltered from the outside world.
They may be sheltered from social engineering of the system and from peer dependency, sure, but that itself doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doomed to be socially inept out in the real world.