Here it is. I am going to address the question most commonly asked of any homeschooler: What about socialization? Having been homeschooled for seven years, having helped homeschool seven brothers and sisters and having homeschooled my children, pretty much homeschooling in some form since 1985 – Sister, if I had a dime for every time someone asked me that, I would be one wealthy woman. I would have a cottage in the Keys, with a boat. And a maid. And Gordon Ramsey as my personal chef. And I would harshly criticize every single one of his dishes. But since I am not paid to answer this question, I will put a well thought out answer here and then refer everyone to my blog. Is that too cheesy?
Seriously though, is socialization the purpose of school? If it is, schools fail miserably. What does the average person mean when they say “socialization”? It would seem they mean the ability of a child to hold a conversation, interact with her peers and read social cues. Do children learn these things from other children? Typically these things are learned at home, from diligent parents. It is mom that holds one sided conversations with her baby, in a loving tone of voice, that entices her child to respond as soon as they are able. And it is grandma that sits with her through playdates and playground time and reminds her child to share or coaxes her shy, little one to say hello to a new kid. It is dad that suggests that if someone continually looks away they probably are not interested in your analysis of every Star Wars character in every episode. What children learn best from other children is what we work hard to train out of our children – selfishness. There is the occasional beacon of kindness that stands up to bullies and inspires other kids, but behind every kid like that, you are likely to see training from dedicated parents.
Then by “socialization” do we mean, “Does your child ever spend time with other children?” Why, yes. Church, dance, band, neighbors, P.E.
programs for homeschoolers, co-op, drama, parties, events at friend’s youth groups. . . I get tired thinking of all the places my firstborn, social butterfly and extrovert that she is, needs a ride to. An introvert raising two extroverts is a theme for another post!
Vickie at http://ponder365.com says this: “Talking about our day and listening to other family members reconnects us and is the best way to increase socialization skills.” Could true socialization be the ability to care about others? If so, homeschooling provides more opportunities to act that out because of flexible schedules.
Homeschooled students are often noted for their ability to converse with adults. Studies show that homeschoolers score higher on psychological assessments that measure social behavior. Dumas, Tanya K. and Gates, Sean and Schwarzer, Deborah, Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research (December 17, 2008). Widener Law Review, Forthcoming. Science says we are okay!
I answered this question from the perspective of a parent of only two children. But when your family looks like this, who needs anyone else to hang out with?!
Check out Choosing extra-curriculars: When Good is Bad for my take on those activities that can provide socialization.
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