By Tamra Orr
Ask any homeschooler you meet—whether a novice or a veteran—what is the number one objection people have to homeschooling? It’s always socialization. Let’s dispense with this issue once and for all with these points that homeschoolers make about socialization.
The socialization that goes on in school is not always the best kind. It is easy to look back on school days and paint them in a more positive light than they actually were. As adults, it is simple to reminisce about the highlights—and overlook the less than pleasant parts. The cliques. The unkindnesses. The loneliness. The popular hierarchy. The peer pressure. The occasionally unfair teachers. The potential violence. Certainly not all students experienced all of these elements—maybe they managed to miss all of them but the world is full of people who suffered through school and still bear the scars. The socializing some students get in school is simply not always the type you would want for your kids. Sometimes it is the worst kind of all because of how artificial it is compared to the “real world.”
Homeschoolers are involved in multiple activities outside the house. The image of homeschoolers who never leave the house could not be more inaccurate. Homeschooling families tend to be involved in MANY outside activities from sports teams to part-time jobs to field trips.
Most homeschooling families make these types of activities part of their curricula. In each of these situations, students have the chance to interact with other people, from fellow participants and instructors to friends and the general public.
Having strong attachments to friends is great—having them to family is better. Having friends is important for all young people. It is part of their maturation process to spend time with friends, making and breaking relationships, developing social skills and learning about themselves. However, spending time with family is also very important and one element that is often missing for some families. Between hours spent in school, at extracurricular activities, doing homework and going to work, many families find themselves seeing each other a few hours a day at most. Siblings are separated from each other; parents spend most of their time apart from their kids. Homeschoolers often feel that this is damaging to family bonds and so strive to change it, spending more time studying, learning, going on field trips, traveling, reading, cooking, running errands and doing many other daily activities together. Siblings get the chance to play together or just spend time together that they normally would not get to and this often results in stronger friendships between them. It also tends to create strong bonds between parents and their kids through time spent together.
Homeschoolers socialize with people of all ages—not just their peers. Because homeschooling families are involved in so many activities, they tend to be out and about frequently. Homeschoolers also tend to do volunteer work and take a variety of classes. All of these activities give them the chance to socialize and interact with all kinds of people, from little children to teenagers, adults to senior citizens, rather than just peers their own age. They learn how to socialize with everyone, not just their peers, which can involve competition and pressure.
In most homeschooling families, socialization simply isn’t a problem. Parents search for places to go, things to do and people to meet and then make sure their children get the opportunity to do so. In fact, if you ask most homeschoolers about socialization, they must just tell you that is one of the main reasons they homeschool. It gives them a chance to make sure their children can socialize clearly, politely and competently. That’s not a bad goal at all!
Tamra Orr is a veteran homeschooler of four children and the author of more than 250 nonfiction books for readers of all ages, including Asking Questions, Finding Answers: A Parent’s Journey through Homeschooling, After Homeschool: 15 Homeschoolers out in the Real World, Ace the SAT Writing Even if You Hate to Write