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My short answer when people ask, "What about socialization?"
I believe that the social skills you learn in American high schools have nothing to do with the social skills you need in real life.
Summary of Research on the Socialization of Homeschoolers
- They're Doing Just Fine
- How is Socialization Best Learned?
- Who Should Socialize Them?
- The Last Straw
- Homeschooling Improved My Child's Social Skills
- Quality Socialization
- I Don't Need to Answer
- Ruled by Their Peers
They're Doing Just Fine
Our homeschooled adults are doing just fine. Our daughter moved from a small rural California town, 45 miles from the nearest city, to Chicago, and she is doing just fine. Today she is on her way to China on a concert tour...still doing just fine. Our 17 year old would like more social life. We're talking to him, finding out what he thinks he needs and providing it for him to the best of our abilities, knowing that some of the things he would like, he isn't ready for yet! Those things will have to wait!
Our public schooled adult kids, who are a little older, are doing just fine too. They are recovering from drugs and getting jobs...finally realizing that the socialization they had is not what they want for their own children or their little brothers and sisters. Some public schooled kids make it and some homeschooled kids don't make it, we do take our chances. But I know what the better bet is for us!Return to the top of this page
How is Socialization Best Learned?
Posted by Karen, Redwood Games
What About Socialization? For some reason, this is the main concern non-homeschoolers seem to have about homeschooling. They can't put down homeschool for academic reasons since studies show that homeschoolers do significantly better than PS students on tests regardless of their parents' educational level. So they fall back on this "concern."
It is precisely for this reason that I do homeschool. I wish to have my children be socialized so that they:
- take responsibility for their actions;
- can relate to all ages in a courteous manner;
- are not pressured into "lookism," materialism, precocious sexuality, drugs, gangs or violence;
- see themselves as individuals who control events rather than members of a group and followers to whom things happen;
- retain a close, mutually respectful relationship with their families;
- see themselves as an important part of the larger society, not some warehoused teenager with no role except consumerism.
And what do schools do to "socialize" kids?
- They group them according to age (a completely artificial grouping - when was the last time you only worked with co-workers within a year of your age?);
- they expose them to kids who have poor impulse-control and lack empathy because they were damaged by drugs in the womb (otherwise known as sociopaths) who kill each other over a look or because someone was wearing the color red;
- they force the kids who missed a concept to go on at the group pace so that they NEVER catch up;
- they force the kids who already learned a concept to wait around wasting their time until the rest of the class catches up;
- they group kids in projects so that they can learn to work together, totally ignoring the fact that in the work place, your team-mates will be accountable for their work output and FIRED if they don't produce, thus the motivated kids do all the work and the unmotivated kids miss out completely. This is not a realistic reflection of how the "real world" works.
- they allow bullying, harassment and so on because "kids need to get tough" because they'll face it in the "real world." What a crock! If someone threatens to hit you (or does hit you) when you are an adult they are arrested! When someone steals your lunch money, they are arrested! Not only that, we adults choose our friends from people who are civilized. The people with whom we work have the self-discipline required for decent social interaction, or they are fired. We don't have to subject our children to these horrible conditions in order to ready them for a "real world."
Bottom line: The school world is a completely unrealistic place that brings kids down to the lowest common denominator.
P.S. If they are not convinced, then have them read, Reviving Ophelia. This is a book on teenage girls by a psychiatrist. She doesn't ever mention homeschooling but indicts the schools as "sick" and blames them for the problems of depression, anorexia, low self-esteem that her patients (from otherwise normal, loving families) experienced. She says that even the best of families cannot combat the effects of the constant harassment, sexual stereotyping and appearance judgement that occurs in the schools.Return to the top of this page
Who Should Socialize Them?
From: Liz C.
This is our first year, and [socialization] bothered me at first. However, my children seem to be doing much better since their role models for socialization are adults (who love them very much and want them to succeed), as opposed to other children who have not mastered socialization yet.
In all other aspects of life, we want to learn from those who have mastered the skill we are trying to gain (piano, soccer, singing etc...), but for some reason our society believes socialization should be instructed by other children. Really, this makes no sense. I do believe that my children need to interact with children their age, but not for a majority of their day. I am at peace with our decision to homeschool and remove the kids from the frey! Who was "the most socially mature"?
From: Claire F.
I've homeschooled for nine years, but I sent all 3 of my kids to a public charter school last year. Guess what each teacher said to me about my son and daughter?..."they are the most socially mature student I've had in years and in this class!" Here were my two homeschooled kids the leaders of the class, the best helpers of the class, the best influence for the class. My youngest was so influential to one troubled little boy that the teacher moved his desk next to hers for the rest of the year and his behavior drastically changed to a cooperative student, his grades improved and he depended on my daughter, who was like a mother to him. The teacher couldn't believe her eyes!!Return to the top of this page
The Last Straw
I had been thinking about homeschooling for several years, and then when my daughter was in 2nd grade, she came home one day and asked me, "Mom, if I had a baby when I'm a teenager, would you let me keep it?" I finally said to myself, "OK that is enough!" I thought, "What in the world do these children talk about on the playground?!" I had worked as an aide at a Jr. High 10 years earlier and would "blush" at notes I confiscated! Now it's down to the elementary level. My son would come home and tell me the latest Beavis and Butthead episode (which we do not watch at home). I decided I didn't want my kids' peers at school undoing everything I was trying to teach them at home. I don't feel I'm "hiding" them from the "real world." They need a good foundation first and that is what I'm teaching them now.One Dad's Response
"What about socialization?" One dad's standard response to this question is, "Socialization? Oh, I give my kids some socialization every week. I wait until they're in the bathroom where no one will hear me, then I beat them up and steal their lunch money. Then, I ridicule them, tell them some lies, and encourage them to lie to me and my wife."Return to the top of this page
Homeschooling Improved My Child's Social Skills
My eldest son went to a private kindergarten, a wonderful school with an excellent K teacher. My son is naturally shy and sensitive. Young children are in training. The children in my son's class were good children, but being that they were only 5, they had a lot to learn about loving their brother. My son was teased because of his glasses and his shyness. He withdrew further and further at school. His grades and conduct were excellent (he received the Christian Character of the Year Award when he graduated K). From these children's behavior, he began to believe there was something wrong with him. Over the year, his self esteem slowly dropped. He was afraid to talk to the children at Sunday School and there was NO WAY he would speak with an adult.
Then we brought him home for school. He has regained his confidence and he speaks EASILY with other children. Two weeks ago he was approached by an adult friend at church, and he held a very polite and wonderful conversation with this person!! He is now just entering second grade after his first year at home. He is doing beautifully. I give the Lord all credit for the work He has done in my child's life.
My daughter was really social. Then she went to school...
School ruined her. She was so happy, bubbly, friendly. Made friends easily and would play with anyone!
Then she went to school. The kids made fun of her because she had so many ideas in her head that didn't "conform" to what they thought was normal. She was in constant trouble for talking. And within weeks her whole personality changed.
Homeschool was not an option at the time and by the time I pulled her out in 4th grade she was afraid to talk to people, afraid to meet "new friends" and afraid of being laughed at. Now in the sanctuary of our home she is struggling to open herself back up to new experiences and new people. She's been home more than a year and is still a shell of the joyous little girl she once was.
When I look at her, I realize her personality changed so drastically just like a child who has been abused. It is heartbreaking! If you have the option, please keep your children at home where they will experience love and acceptance!Return to the top of this page
From: Liz in SC I'm sure we all remember that old buzz phrase that wore itself out, quality time. I think we homeschoolers should put a new buzz phrase into circulation, quality socialization. Our childrem get quality socialization. I Don't Need to Answer
From: Leigh Ann What do I do when people challenge me about socialization? I don't feel I need to defend my wonderful kids against most comments that are flippant assumptions. Those challenging me don't know the joys of teaching their own kids, and won't be able to relate to a come-back anyhow, no matter how convincing.
We often want to defend our decision to homeschool because we are worried about appearances, or we don't want to seem like weirdos or bad parents. But our confidence needs to come from the Lord, and from the fruits we (eventually!) see in our families and children.Return to the top of this page
Web Sites About Socialization
Research on the Socialization of Homeschoolers from HSLDA-Canada.
A great collection of socialiazion articles from A to Z Home's Cool
A Game of Socialization by Diana Waring
No Thank You, We Don't Believe in Socialization by Lisa Russell
How to Answer the Socialization Question by Marsha Ransom
Ruled by Their Peers by Karen Gram, Southam Newspapers, Vancouver
Answers to Objections About Homeschooling by Fred Worth
What About Socialization, by Fred Worth
Learn in Freedom, review of socialization research
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