Homeschooling and Socialization

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When people find out that we homeschool our children, they almost always predictably comment, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWell, I could never homeschool my children. They need the socialization?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

First, why do people do this? Why do people tell us what they wouldn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t do? Did someone tell them they have to homeschool? Quite frankly, I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t give a crap whether you use the public school system or not. I am not preaching to you; don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t preach to me.

Second, is there a class all homeschool opponents take? Does the first lesson in Opposing Homeschool 101 tell you that homeschooled children get no socialization? If no such class and lesson is offered, can someone please reveal to me why this is virtually the only comment we receive from people regarding homeschool? You would think we would at least get a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYou?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re evil?¢‚Ǩ¬ù or ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYou’re going to hell?¢‚Ǩ¬ù once in a while, but all we get is ?¢‚Ǩ?ìyour children will be social misfits?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

Third, since when did the public school system become a social laboratory? Maybe the seven schools I attended in two provinces did things differently, but outside of two 30-minute recess periods, we were discouraged from having social interaction. Chatting in class would result in a smack of the ruler on our desk or having to write lines. In all honesty, the bulk of my social experience came from interaction with friends in the evenings and on the weekends.

Fourth, why do people assume that homeschooled children have no social skills and/or get no social interaction? Are people really so ignorant that they think homeschooled children sit at home all day locked in the house until they emerge with their homework done? How ridiculous.

For your information, our daughter?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùour son is not officially being homeschooled yet since he is only three?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùreceives plenty of opportunity for socialization. She is in her third year of weekly ballet classes. Every week she either goes to another family?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s house that participates in our local babysitting co-op or the children of one of the families comes to our house. Next week she starts art classes. Next month she starts swimming classes. That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not even counting all the times we go to friends?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ houses and she plays with their children, nor is it counting all the times her friends’ parents phone up asking if she wants to come over and play.

Of course, there is the remote possibility that maybe we are just radicals when it comes to homeschooling, and the majority of homeschoolers do lock their children in closets under the stairs.

Either way, please stop telling us our children will not be socialized.

29 thoughts on “Homeschooling and Socialization

  1. My children are too young for school but we have become increasingly interested in homeschooling. Several families in our ward do this and love it. Others in the ward have made some similar comments to them. I wonder if the non-homeschoolers feel defensive and use the socialization barb to justify any possible guilt. I imagine some families feel like there is a competition to be “super-families” (especially in the Church) and those who cannot homeschool, for legitimate reasons, feel defensive.

    We are undecided as to what we will do but I am extremely concerned about public schools. I would like to do it but realize that since most of the burden will be on my wife she needs to make the bulk of the decision.

  2. My kid is too young for school too, but my wife and I are definitely considering homeschooling. I’ve heard the socialization argument before, but I’m with you Kim. The classroom certainly isn’t a place where kids are encouraged to talk amongst themselves in my experience.

    There is the idea of group work though. I’m curious, you probably haven’t run into this yet, but how do you teach your homeschooled kids about group work? I’ve got quite a few memories of my days in school where we worked on projects together.

    Any thoughts?

  3. I ran across your blog post about homeschooling. As a former “homeschoolee” for 4 years during my highschool years, I have to say that I agree with you. The argument regarding socialization and homeschooling is bogus. I feel that my social interactions were much improved once my mother began homeschooling me. We met with other homeschooled children several times a week for field trips, attend group functions, or to play soccer or basketball. People who use the socialization argument are misinformed. There are great ways that homeschooled children can still receive social interaction, group activities, etc. I am very thankful for my mother who dedicated so much of her time to me and my younger siblings and cared enough to homeschool us.

  4. We homeschool our boys (we have five) and have gotten this, too. But quite honestly, when I compare our kids’ social behavior and interaction to the kids in our ward or in our neighborhood (there are a lot in both), they compare quite favorably. Now, you might say this is just a biased father speaking, but we have gotten lots of comments from other people about how well-behaved and well-adjusted and self-confident our boys are. It’s not just my imagination. I am not concerned in the slightest about my kids’ “socialization”. We participate in a regular homeschool group with five other families, get the kids together with other kids from church and the neighborhood, have the oldest in cub scouts, etc., etc.

    As for learning to stand in line — well, we do have five boys, so they have to learn to be patient… ;-)

  5. re: Group Work

    There are infinite opportunities for kids to practice group work. Little League, Cub Scouts, Church Groups, Community Groups, etc. In fact – schools don’t usually encourage group work. They call it cheating ;)

  6. Re: Group work.

    That’s why we have more than one child. ;)

    I suppose one could say that Sinéad is already learning group work in her ballet class. She has to learn how to do the practises along with everyone else, how to follow instruction and how to implement her part as a team member in a performance.

    Same goes for Regan as he starts on a soccer team next year.

  7. Isn’t it odd that the public school system is the bar of socialization. What a sad viewpoint so many people have towards this issue.

    On a side note: We are the parents of one child. We often hear comments like, “oh but she’ll be spoiled…have no playmates…” In the church especially. Seeing so many parents lose their young infants in the NICU I learned to be very grateful for one beautiful child. If people assume our choice for one child is selfish than they don’t know our story and don’t understand the value of a child. Sorry for the rant…

    If you have the gumption, the desire, the ability and the faith in educating your own children, then you have no better option. Plus, I think Mary is ever so brilliant. Who could pass up on such a home educator?

  8. I have always wondered how homeschooling works. Is the are link to a site that explains it for those of us who would like to learn more?

  9. Nikki,

    Oh you are sweet. I am NOT brilliant, lol! Not even close which is why I rely on the creativity of OTHERS for our curriculum! :) But my little girl is sure a smart cookie.

    You know, people have a tendency to judge without knowing circumstances. You know your family and you know what the Lord has in store for you and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with having only 1 child when you know that is right for your family! And as far as spoiling…of course she won’t be, you are her mother!! You know how to raise a wonderful child and of course you are doing just that :)


  10. Aimee

    OK, well homeschooling works however YOU want to. You can unschool, you can create your own curriculum you can do a schedule, or not. There are a ton of resources out there and you just do what works for you and your child(ren). And sometimes that is different for each child. My daughter is a “visual” learner, my son tends to be what is known as a “kinaesthetic” learner. So our approach will be different with him, I know. Already it is. OK, as far as sites, there are a lot out there. Homeschool sites

  11. I am 16, and homeschooled. I have plenty of chance for socialization. One, there is seminary. Then there is also scouts, and mutual, etc. I also do a couple of extra- curricular activity’s.

    So, I also can testify that there are social oppertunity’s with homeschool.

    I am homeschooled through a program. It’s distance learning. It’s done through a private school in Pleasent grove, Ut. Liahona academy. Has anybody heard of it?

  12. We have Homeschooled for 6 years and use the Thomas Jefferson Education approach which is using a Classic Educational model. Our kids love it and we have found it benefits us as much. It ties hand in hand with the principles of the Gospel as well.
    The best organization that promotes it is George Whyth College out of Cedar City Utah. is the website.
    That being said, there is many resources in Southern Alberta that assist Ie; Seminars, etc.
    We use that approach and then have a good facilitator with the Argyle School District, who gives us a lot of latitude. Let me know if you are interested in this approach.

  13. You can always just smile and say “oh, we’re not Socialists…”

    Seriously, I think that the socialization that goes on in most public schools is one of the best arguments *FOR* homeschooling. Classes are huge, teachers can’t adequately supervise social interaction, and so it’s just Lord of the Flies. I don’t want my kids to learn about cliques, bullying, and popularity contests among an artificially age-segregated peer group. Far better to let them learn to interact with people of all ages in all occupations with a coach (parent) nearby to teach them the rules of decent social behavior.

  14. Pro-America

    My cousins did the Liahona program and I believe really enjoyed it. I am not sure if they are currently doing it though.

  15. Kristine do you home school? I agree that social interactions in public school can be problematic. I went to public school and have lots of painful memories of my social interactions and I went to great schools. I wouldn’t change anything still, it did make me tough and I like how I turned out.

    I have never really considered homeschooling my kids, even though I know it can be a great option. I just know I would hate it and be miserable. I can’t wait until my kids go to school and I can get away.

  16. My kids go to a Waldorf school. I had intended to homeschool, but my oldest child has some needs I can’t meet, and *huge* issues with authority (wonder where that came from :)). It was very clear that he needed a non-mommy teacher, and things have gone really well for him so far (he’s in 2nd grade) at this school. The others are there too, for now, because it turns out that I am the least patient parent of preschool/kindergarteners *ever*, and it’s better for all of us to have some breaks from each other. But I am hopeful that homeschooling may be in our future. And I teach music at the kids’ school, so I do see them a lot during the day.

  17. If I may ask, Mary, Kristine, whoever, why do you want to homeschool? What do you see as the advantages?

  18. Lisa

    Well, for me, the advantages are myriad! I love being in “control” of what my children learn and helping them (well mostly my daughter right now, my 3 year old isn’t interested in much “schooling” of any type currently.) learn new things and develop their knowledge. Let’s see. Well, being their mother, I know their abilities and strengths and am able to help them learn in a way that will benefit them best. I am not saying I am the perfect teacher, at all. I am not! I am their mother, and so my role is different. I know them much better than a schoolteacher does (and there are wonderful teachers out there, I don’t deny that at all). We also have more flexibility in our curriculum. We can go with the flow. If my daughter shows a particular interest in an area, we run with that. I believe it was Maria Montessori (correct me if I am wrong??) who said that children’s work is play. I fully agree with that, and what’s nice is, during the day our “sit down time” is much less than a traditional school model. Less than 2 hours total at this point, and so there is lots of time for exploration and play. In the future I see advantages as far as flexibility of time too. We don’t have to work around “school”. Life is school! Everything can and is an educational experience.

    Right now our schedule goes something like this, Mon-Thurs morning we go to the gym (they to the play room, me working out) then home and lunch and then school starts. Sinéad works on 2-3 subjects (I show her what to do or teach her) and then a break for play or computer time. Then the final subjects. We do reading, math, spelling, phonics, science, social studies and art/music. SS, Science and Art and Music are on alternate days. We adjust where we need to becuase other things come up. Like Tuesday afternoon is ballet. Friday morning we go to the library or wherever else. A few weeks ago we had a field trip to the Japanese Gardens here in town. It was a perfect end to our study.

    I also like the choice of curriculum. As a homeschooler *I* get to choose what we use, and we can alter and switch if we need to. There are different methods of homeschooling too. Traditional “at home school”, Montessori style, Charlotte Mason, Classical , Waldorf and eclectic (a combination of styles). I see us eventually being more eclectic. Right now we are figuring out how we want to go. We are sort of eclectic, but I want to look more into the different styles. The nice thing too is, you don’t have to do the same for every child. I already know my son is going to be a different story than my daughter and I will have to approach his learning from a different angle. Sinéad is so EASY to teach, she practically teaches herself. She picks up on concepts really easily. She reads really well already and breezes through math. I think Regan will be differnt in this regard. He is more hands on. A learning through play might be more appropriate for him (it’s working so far, lol). So we will see how it goes. There are great helps and resources out there anyway.

    Well, I don’t know if this answers your questions, but I just want to clarify, everyone is different. For some, homeschool might not work, whether the parent or the child. Everyone needs to find their own path and whatever works best for their child/ren.

  19. oops, I should clarify what I said about being in control of what Sinéad learns. I am not really in control, but what I meant was, to have the choice, instead of (perhaps) not liking the curriculum offered through the school system. If it doesn’t work for us we can try something different. I feel I have more choice this way.

  20. I think that is really logical, in theory I really like the idea. But I just can’t imagine that it would work for me.

    I love my kids but man I need a break from them. I take them to the gym every morning too, because I have to have a break from them or I’ll go crazy. I told my husband, it’s either a gym membership or prozac, so the membership seemed a better investment.

    But still, even then, I dream of the day they’ll all be off to kindergarten and I can go back to work, or write a book, or clean my toilets, or anything. I just feel so overwhelmed and dragged down being in this house all the time. The mere thought of homeschooling makes me want to cry.

    I guess that’s why I cringe when I hear about people doing it. Maybe because I wish I had the personality type that could do it, because I think it really could be great for the kids. But I’d probably have to be institutionalized if I tried it.

  21. Oh yeah,
    And I guess I worry that I don’t know enough. I think I could get them to middle school, but as high school rolled around I don’t think I could do the math anymore, or forein languages, biology, chemistry, physics. And my spelling is terrible.

  22. Lisa

    You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do :) Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. But as long as you know the option is there, and if you find, in the future that your child/ren are not doing well in school, you could possibly consider it.

    I do know about needing personal time. There are days when I just want to go crazy. Being a mother isn’t easy and certainly not all roses. I love being with my children much of the time, yes, but I don’t think I would be normal, if I didn’t need a break from them sometimes!

    Oh and you don’t need to know everything. There are lots of helps out there but besides that, homeschooling isn’t so much about “teaching” your children, but finding the answers when you need to and facilitating their learning. Most children learn really well without being taught. I went to public school from kindergarten to grade 12 (and beyond of course) and honestly, I don’t see that I learned an awful lot. When I was struggling with the multiplication tables it was my dad doing drills with me that finally had me learn them. I learned to read awfully easily on my own (I have always been a great reader). The things I used that I use NOW, I learned outside of school. I do believe that schooling doesn’t necessarily need a trained school teacher to facilitate many times. The most important thing is that a child needs to know someone cares about them to be able to learn properly. They really are anxious to learn. And they do, in spite of us.

    Oh and besides that, homeschooling doesn’t mean you teach everything. Sometimes you use other mediums or helps. I am letting Kim teach them French because that is JUST not my area. As well, you learn along with them. Like Sinéad wanted to learn about how houses are built. Well I didn’t know, so we went to the library!

    Anyway, my children need to get ready for Church (and so do I). Talk to local homeschoolers. You will meet others who have the same ideas you do and who face the same challenges.

  23. Lisa, it sounds so snotty to say it when you’re in the trenches, but I’m only a few years out from where you are now (oldest is 7, youngest barely 4) and it’s a completely different world. I do still cherish my breaks from them, but it’s a *lot* easier to take breaks from them even when they’re in the house with me. They can actually be alone for 10 minutes at a time without killing themselves or each other, which I really couldn’t imagine even a couple of years ago!

  24. …please stop telling us our children will not be socialized.

    Ahmen! It is completely disingenuous to make the claim that homeschooled kids are social misfits. My parents pulled me out of public school after the third grade. Did I suffer from lack of social interaction? Not unless you call a kid whe attended 5 proms and played lead guitar in a moderately successful band (we recorded two CDs) a social misfit.

  25. This is interesting, reading back on this. We are now in our 5th year of homeschooling and in the last while, have been using the Thomas Jefferson/Classics/Mentor approach after researching it for a few years. As well I am a student with George wythe College (well actually now, university.) I don’t know if Doug Cooper will read this or not, but seeing it, I hadn’t even heard of GWC or TJEd, but now am immersed in in.

  26. “cliques, bullying, and popularity contests among an artificially age-segregated peer group”

    Yes, that is the socialization kids learn in public school. And apparently they are not learning the three R’s much at all anymore.

    I wish I had homeschooled my children. I firmly believe that both they and I would be better for it. Maybe I’ll get a chance with grandchildren.

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