When my wife and I decided to homeschool our kids we were asked about socialization. Our parents and extended family, friends, etc. Even today I’ll occasionally have work acquaintances and even complete strangers ask, “well what about socialization?”
What about it? We homeschool because we are concerned about socialization. I was waiting for the question or the topic to come up in my interview on Mac’s World Live this morning (I’ll embed show once it is available), and I was not disappointed.
It was actually a question that I had when Cheryl and I first discussed homeschooling… “what about socialization?”
Well most people who bring this up as an argument usually do not have any data to back up their claim. Sure they could point out a family here or there as anecdotal evidence, but sitting here I can think of numerous kids in the public school system or products of the system who are socially awkward as well.
That’s, however, an entirely different conversation that would have to focus on particular individual families.
When people ask about socialization they are usually wondering about “horizontal socialization.” How much time are your kids interacting with children of their own age. It is like some think that we cage our kids up and never let them be around other children.
If you wonder about this type of socialization, let me ask you a question…
If you stick a 6th grade boy with a bunch of 6th graders what is he going to learn to become? Who will he be best equipped to interact with?
He will learn to be a “better 6th grader.” He’ll be comfortable interacting with kids his own age. How does that prepare him for life? When else in life will he ever be faced with the same type of homogeneous age groupings?
You see my kids are socialized – “vertical socialization.” My wife and I are the primary influencers, not their peer group. Does anybody want to dispute that as not being a good thing? You see my kids, and other homeschoolers don’t mold to the groupthink that says, “adults in general and parents in particular aren’t cool to talk to.”
Most homeschoolers naturally can carry on conversations with adults and are comfortable doing so. I’ve gotten positive feedback from numerous adults about how my kids interact with them (as well as their behavior). I’ve noticed that with other homeschooled children as well, you can easily carry on a conversation with them. Why?
Because they are spending a lot of time with parents, other adults, older children, and younger children. They are rarely in social settings where it is entirely kids of their own age. I think this is a good thing, that’s life! The homogenous age groupings you see in schools (which usually gets reinforced in church) isn’t real life, and does little to prepare a kid for the real world.
I was then asked about parents who hover… what about them? Is that always a bad thing? You see these parents in any educational format, but I would say the norm is not “hovering” enough? Obviously throughout a child’s adolescence you want give more opportunities for independence, but that doesn’t mean you throw them to the wolves when they turn 12. Don’t you think that it is a good idea for parents to be concerned about who their children’s friends are? I do. I’ve seen the result of parents who don’t care about such things in my work.
There’s also empirical data that demonstrates the healthy socialization of homeschoolers from a 2003 study of 7300 homeschooled adults. Homeschool graduates tended to be more involved in community service, have a higher percentage who have taken college-level courses, more are members of organizations, have a higher level of civic involvement and are more engaged politically. Home school graduates tend to be more satisfied with their work and financial situation, and are generally happier in life.
Does this sound like maladjusted kids to you?
Also 95% were happy they were homeschooled, and 74% of parents with kids over the age of five homeschool their children.
There are challnges to homeschooling, but socialization isn’t one of them.