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Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling and socialization’


Ah yes….. the “S” word, as we often call it.  Have you been waiting with bated breath for this one?  😀

Hands down, the single question I hear the most is about socialization: “How will they get it?  I mean, after all, if they are just shut up at home doing school work, how will they ever relate to other human beings?”

I will admit that initially, I didn’t have an answer to that.  At least one that I thought people would accept. 😆  My instinct was to reply, “What do you call what they’ve been doing the first 5 years of their lives?  Aren’t we people?  Aren’t they interacting with us? Isn’t that socialization?” Yep, these are all questions as opposed to answers. 😆 And that is where I started my travels: what is socialization?

To keep us on the same page, let’s define socialization. The most basic way to define this term is this: it’s the process by which people of all ages interact in the community at large.

Huh?  😆

Most people, though, boil this down to interacting with others. Which again, bought up my question, “What have they been doing for the first 5 years of their lives?”

Stop and think about this for a minute. *Really* think about this. One disturbing trend I have seen more and more is parents who feel like they need to send their kids to daycare/preschool at very young ages, lest they short change them out of a “proper learning environment.”  (can you see my eyes crossing?!)

When did we as a society start thinking so poorly of ourselves?  I personally think this mindset feeds right into medical childbirth (after all, our bodies don’t know what they are doing, do they? Oh no, we “have” to have constant medical monitoring and intervention, because otherwise that baby will never come out) and artificial baby feeding (because goodness knows, our bodies could never manufacture optimal nutrition for an infant because, doncha know, we don’t really understand it all and can’t replicate breast milk scientifically; therefore it must be inferior {more eye rolling}) and continues into childhood.

This article, from The Sojournal: A New Media Journal of Sociology and Society summarized socialization this way: “Socialization is the process by which the social order[1] is involuntarily and (if necessary) coercively transferred onto a clean and shiny newborn baby body and mind.” Another gem is this statement: “At approximately the age of five, children are moved out of the home into “schools” where teachers then begin the twelve step process of “educating” (read enforcing) the social order.”

People in general are taught to believe that unless they have “properly” done “x” – which is always determined by some “expert” in some field – they are not “qualified” to do “z.” Can you tell this is a hot button of mine?  🙂

And parents generally want to do what is “best” for their children.  They want to afford them every opportunity and help them get every advantage possible. Let’s not argue about the semantics of that phrase, because we’ll probably not agree. (For example, I don’t believe that we should hand things to our kids on silver platters or not make them do chores just because we can….)

The bottom line is, we’re losing our ability to think for ourselves; to evaluate and interpret data, and to make conclusions based on that information. Sometimes, it’s not because we don’t want to; it’s a matter of having been threatened by outside forces. (For example, if you don’t do what the doctor tells you {however absurd that may be}, you will be turned in to social services and have your kids taken away- yes, this really happens, and a LOT more frequently than most people think.)

How does any of that relate to socialization?  😆

Somewhere along the line, people were fed the line of baloney about socialization and school. As in, a child can’t become adequately socialized if they don’t go to school, and because of that, we are doing them not just a disservice, but “harm” if we homeschool them.

I admit, when we moved here and came to understand the education system here, we knew homeschooling might be something we would have to consider. We did kindergarten and first grade, mostly to give it a try and make sure we weren’t making any hasty decisions. By that point and time, our concern had grown from just the educational standpoint to now also include socialization.

There are those who will tell you everything they learned about how to deal with people they learned in school (and that’s when I wonder, maybe that’s what wrong with society!). There are those who will tell you that kids will be kids, and they need to learn how to deal with bullying and other situations at school on their own, because otherwise they will never make it in the “real world.” Or, they will tell you, “I survived school and I turned out just fine.  It’s a rite of passage.”

Really?! I don’t want my kids to survive. I want them to thrive. I want them to be able to express empathy and kindness without repercussion and teasing- and to be recipients of those acts as well.

Let’s get back to thinking about socialization. My definition of socialization means being able to deal with people; people of all ages; people of all capabilities and interests. This leads quite naturally to my perspective on school:

Nowhere in the real world are people thrown together simply because they are the same age. Nowhere.

How then, CAN my child learn real socialization if that’s the only environment that is permitted in school? Yes, as they get older, there may be programs (like the “gifted” program) that allow kids of different ages to be in the same class; depending on the school. No, the playground before school doesn’t count.

This is the actual concept that got me thinking about what socialization meant to me, and what we wanted in this regard for our kids. And then, I started watching for ways that other homeschoolers I knew were socializing.  What I learned was surprising.

Many homeschoolers are incredibly busy!  In fact, a big complaint from the homeschooling moms I knew (remember, I was on an email list with like-minded homeschooling mothers all around the world, literally, although the majority of them were state-side) was that they were rarely home!

“How can that be?” I wondered. “How can you homeschool if you aren’t home?” This- the “where does homeschooling happen”- is a critical component to our homeschooling philosophy, and how our perspectives changed from schooling at home to homeschooling. Whichever approach a family chooses to take, the socialization issues, in my opinion, is moot. 

Do your kids have grandparents? Cousins? Siblings?  That’s socialization.

Do you go to church? That’s socialization.

Do you have neighbors (kids or adults) that your kids interact with? That’s socialization.

Do your kids participate in any kind of activities where they come into contact with other people (kids or adults)? That’s socialization.

Do your kids go to the grocery store with you? That’s socialization.

Did you ever sit in school and hear a teacher say, “We’re not here to socialize,”? 😉

If you feel the need for “evidence” that homeschooled kids do just fine socially in the real world, here are some resources to start with (scroll to the bottom of the list for a website that lists famous people who were homeschooled, including Whoopie Goldberg, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Venus and Serena Williams and famous homeschooling parents like Will and Jada (Pinkett) Smith, Chuck Norris, and Garth Brooks, etc etc):

From the National Home Education Research Institute‘s page of Research Facts on Homeschooling

Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development

  • The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
  • Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work”

HomeSchool Association of California: Socialization and the Homeschooled Student

Home School Legal Defense Association collection of articles regarding socialization

The Washington Times: Home-Schooling: Socialization not a problem

Homeschoolers and Socialization By Dan Hammes

Successful Homeschooling: Homeschooling and Socialization

Website listing famous people by category who were homeschooled– this is a neat list of people who are famous; including entertainers, politicians, athletes, artists and more!

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