“But what about socialization?!” is by far the most common argument I’ve personally heard against homeschooling. And you know what???
Yes, socialization CAN be a big problem when you homeschool.
We often take entire days off and just chill at home to take a break from all that socializing. It can get pretty exhausting.
If you homeschool, your children will not be adequately socially equipped. They will be shy. They’ll 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
Even though the school environment has been so deeply entrenched in our cultural perception of socialization in the life of a child, school actually seems to be more about de-socialization than socialization.
Think about it…
What do 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.
School = education. Kids go to school to learn. Not to mingle and socialize. That’s why school days are managed by bells and strict schedules and students taught to move in quiet single-file lines.
Then there is age segregation.
We justify separating kids into grades by age because teaching kids with similar capabilities should make mass education more efficient and somehow make this setup the holy grail of socialization even though this pattern isn’t replicated in the real world.
The problem is, you can’t expect to learn valuable social skills in a room full of people with the same general social inexperience level even if you had ample opportunities to socialize. It just doesn’t happen.
Socialization that revolves exclusively around assigned peer groups doesn’t give kids the opportunity 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?
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.
Students may be allowed to talk during some class projects and assignments – as long as the conversation stays on topic.
Then there is recess, though many schools have shortened recess significantly 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 the alarming statistics on childhood obesity and the obvious physical and psychological benefits of free play.
Lunch? Possibly. Though I don’t know what’s more disturbing – the increasingly popular silent lunch or the average length of a school lunch period? In addition, if kids can’t freely choose who they’ll sit next to during lunch which is often the case, the result is more forced association and less socialization.
Where exactly is all that good ol’ socialization that homeschooled kids are being deprived of that is so positively shaping a young child’s mind?
The limited opportunities for socialization are created and controlled by the very system that kills social diversity by segregating kids into artificial units. If anything, it seems like schools are running a pretty tight ship on socialization.
— HOMESCHOOLING and SOCIALIZATION
Homeschooled kids may be sheltered from the social engineering of the system, but that doesn’t mean that homeschoolers are doomed to be socially inept.
There is a huge difference in the way homeschoolers spend their days.
Homeschooled kids aren’t confined to classroom walls 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.
How to socialize a homeschooler?
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 easiest source of socialization for 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 to choose from.
There are classes and activities designed for homeschoolers that take place during regular school hours (though availability varies depending on where one lives). That would include anything from school subjects to hobbies to sports and beyond.
There are get-togethers and playdates with other homeschoolers.
Museums and theater performances run all year round.
Volunteering is another great way to expose homeschoolers to the real world and to spread a little kindness.
Personal hobbies can be pursued in individual ways, offering many different outlets to socialize.
Last but not least, homeschoolers can meet other kids around their neighborhood, or at after-school classes and community events.
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 there.
That said, I believe you don’t need to constantly seek opportunities for homeschooled kids to socialize. They’re socializing every time they leave their house and interact with people, whether it’s a homeschool activity with peers or a basic family errand. There are people and life lessons everywhere.
Socialization is a complex thing that goes beyond school order and peer circle. It has little to do with aping behavior and conformity, and everything to do with learning meaningful values and how to deal with all kinds of different situations that life throws.
We can agree to disagree on homeschooling and socialization; I’m not trying to convince anybody.
However, forced association is not exactly a good building block for socialization. Perhaps raising children in the REAL WORLD may prepare them for living in the REAL WORLD better than isolating them in an artificial social bubble that schools have created?
There is a real chance that the institutional arrangements are at fault and are causing poor student social skills. Maybe homeschoolers should start asking traditional schoolers, “But what about socialization?!” for a change…?