The Socialization Homeschooled Kids Don’t Get

The Socialisation Homeschooled Kids Don't Get

“Hello!”

No answer.

“What are you doing?”

No answer.

“Hey, what are you playing?”

No answer.

“Oh are you going inside now?”

Still no answer.

My 7-year-old has a friend next door.

Except when she doesn’t.

She has a friend most afternoons. A friend who answers her questions, who calls out and asks her to play, who comes over to jump on the trampoline. A friend who is excited to see her, a friend who shares laughter and imaginary games, a friend who she adores.

Some days that friend has another friend. Some days they’re playing over the fence and they don’t answer her questions. Some days they purposely ignore her. Some days they’re rude to her and they think it’s funny.

The Socialisation Homeschooled Kids Don't Get

Some days my heart breaks for her.

I remember.

I remember how friendship groups work, especially amongst girls. How cliques are formed. How it’s not cool to talk to the younger kid over the fence when you’ve got your school friend over. I remember how we played with power and exclusion.

I gently enquire and check she’s ok. And she is. My strong girl. I comment that I noticed they weren’t answering her questions.

She sighs.

“Yeah, but they’re having a sleepover so they’re just pretty excited about that”

Sweet innocent girl.

When it happens often enough you start to become self-conscious. You wonder why they are acting that way towards you. What have you done wrong? How can you fix it? And then you join in and act the same way, hoping to be liked, wanting to be included.

You learn ‘socialization‘. Right?

That’s what we’re all worried about isn’t it? That’s what kids need to learn? To fit in. To get along. To make friends.

Is it? Because I don’t think so.

If you don’t send your child to school, most people think that they’re missing out on important socialization. And you know what? They’re absolutely right!

Yes, my kids are missing out on being socialized in a schooled environment. And you know what else? I’m extremely happy about it!

I do not want them socialized to conform, fit in, gossip, bully, compete, and lose their compassion and individuality.

I want them socialized to have empathy and understanding for others, to be helpful and cooperative, to be friendly and accommodating. Putting a group of kids of the same age and social skills together does not achieve this. We’ve all been there.

If you’re worrying about homeschooled kids being socialized, you’re worrying about the wrong group. We’re doing just fine thanks.

The Socialisation Homeschooled Kids Don't Get

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110 thoughts on “The Socialization Homeschooled Kids Don’t Get

  1. I can totally relate to this. My daughter is almost 4 years old and we have neighbors who are around 6-9 years old. These boys always are looking over our fence and just stare. They never answer us, but my daughter always starts a conversation with them. They just stare at her and then get off the fence. It is somewhat heartbreaking because my daughter is just trying to have a chat. She stood there for 10 minutes trying to get them to tell her their names, she didn’t get angry she just kept asking them questions in different ways hoping she would get a reply. But as usual they ignored her and just stared. She came inside and quietly asked me why they wouldn’t answer and I couldn’t really answer.

    Even my parents get annoyed and don’t understand “how she will get friends” and I always have to remind them that they are not still friends with the children they went to school with.

      • The “codes” I am referring to is where people think it is cute or do not want their children to be wrong so the parent use the words their children try to say but aren’t even close, thus creating a family code. Using non words because the parent knows what the child intended to say. When the child tries to talk to others they continue to use non words and the other children do not know what the child said so do not answer. I believe this is why the blank stares. I feel this doesn’t help children socially. It sounded like you were complaining about other children not noticing yours enough and so you blamed them for mistreating your children. Then at the same time saying your children are just fine it is every one else that is the problem.. my observation

        • Linda, these “codes” you speak of are actually speech delays. As a homeschooling mom of 3, one with a persistent speech delay, your comments downright make me mad. Yes, sometimes, I am the only person present, besides his siblings, who understand what he is saying. Its not a cutesy code that we are enforcing. We’re essentially his interpreters on especially difficult speech days. There is nothing “cute” about my son’s speech delay, the thousands of dollars we spend out of pocket to try and help him, and the tears of frustration he frequently cries when he just cannot get the message out of his mouth he is so desperately trying to convey. But, the most heartbreaking and angering part of all of it? The response of other children and ADULTS. My son struggles with disfluency (stuttering) and prolongation, and when he is speaking with adults, he is often interrupted or railroaded because they don’t feel like listening patiently while he completes his thought, just because it takes a little longer than a typical child. He has been bullied by other children, called stupid, been told he is unliked, and that they don’t want to play with him. And yet, the most wonderful group of children, who accept him with open arms and never turn down a chance to play with him are fellow homeschoolers. It speaks volumes to the deleterious effects of socialization in the schools. Your attitude toward the speech delayed only highlights the points Sara made in her blog post. Now please, stop trolling the comments section.

      • Why do you feel this happens to your children, are the children in the parks aware that your children are home schooled? If your children are met by blank stare then the other children are not understanding what your children are saying. It seems that your children are using uncommon words or are mispronouncing words as I had said in my first post. Another possibility could be whether you have any electronics available such as TVs, movies or computers. Public schools use computers often in class to do classwork. I do hope you figure out how to help you children to be able to interact with other children, I do not know the ages of you children, hopefully quite young. . It is sad to be ignored by other people

        • Our homeschooled kids are in 4-H with the public school kids. I highly recommend 4-H- it’s not just about showing animals at fairs- although that is important for our national economy. They go to spin clubs of their interests and do charity work in teams giving work/life experiences. We use computers for 80% of their education with online school at home. Our kids were in private and public schools but we needed to switch to homeschool for their academics due to early illnesses but they are both OK now. Our daughter had rough social experience with a Girl Scout troop at her previous public school. (Not all Girl Scouts are rough) We were trying to keep her connected with friends from the school after her two year illness. She had no heart damage so we were relieved. The kids were not discouraged from being in two cliques. She learned that the only opinion of her that mattered was her own. She got a strong backbone from the negative experience at Girl Scouts. Our son was in a separate public school class due to being deaf early but could hear and was just catching up- because he was in the separate class-other kids excluded him and didn’t want to talk to him. Wrong class for his needs- homeschool was the answer for him too. There is a silver lining to all of our experiences….good or bad. I think people like to have contests about whether homeschool, private or public are better…no kids are nice all of the time….we are all just trying to find the best option for our child at that point in time. I think the lesson is really to try and not have your child be the one that excludes others in life and that is all that we really have control over. Best to all parents…it’s a rough job at times but luckily fun more often.

        • Linda, do you have a comprehension problem? It’s abundantly clear to me that this mom is dealing with exactly this kind of incredible inability to understand a simple explanation of a serious challenge she and her child are facing. What part of speech delay, or her need to help others understand him are you failing to comprehend? It’s not on purpose, or “unfamiliar words”! He’s trying to say familiar words and CAN’T. Smh – you just helped me feel her frustration better, though, so I guess you’re useful in that regard. I wouldn’t have weighed in if I were you.

      • Linda Sheidler

        July 6, 2016 at 3:58 pm

        Why do you feel this happens to your children, are the children in the parks aware that your children are home schooled? If your children are met by blank stare then the other children are not understanding what your children are saying. It seems that your children are using uncommon words or are mispronouncing words as I had said in my first post. Another possibility could be whether you have any electronics available such as TVs, movies or computers. Public schools use computers often in class to do classwork. I do hope you figure out how to help you children to be able to interact with other children, I do not know the ages of you children, hopefully quite young. . It is sad to be ignored by other people

          • I just have to make my own observation – this Linda Sheidler person is doing her absolute best NOT to even attempt understand you. Why in the world would she think your kids don’t speak properly? And in another post, you had a picture of your daughter building a computer…and then her comment was something about how are your kids going to find a job if they don’t go to school to learn “job skills?” She’s trying her best to pick out something wrong with your scenario. What an awful person.
            Anyway, I’m in Texas, have a three year old son, and I love your blog! I’m going through your posts to gather information so we can un/homeschool as well. Brilliant!

        • Linda,
          I went to public school. In second grade a girl called me a name that I won’t repeat. This girl influenced other girls to ignore me, make fun of me, falsely accuse me to the teacher. In seventh grade, I had run ins with the same girl, and she spread the hate throughout most my 100+ seventh grade class. Most of my class ignored me or taunted me. This behavior followed me throughout my 8th grade year and then through high school. I was depressed through most of this time. A boy even kicked me my Junior year as I was talking to a couple of friends and kneeling at my lower locker. I was Valedictorian of my 7th grade class, and my Senior Class. I could speak clearly. Our State Representative said that I was good at speaking after my 7th grade Valedictorian speech.
          I homeschool my children. My 8 yr. old has been bullied by another child who is actually in a private school and then instigates more bullying from other children. Do you know who stands up for him and refuses to participate in this demeaning behavior? Himself, and the other homeschooled kids.
          It’s never ok to treat others poorly no matter what their quirks are, whether they are well-spoken or not, and it is a plus if we can teach our children how to treat others with kindness and respect. Quit putting all the blame on the bullied child. Some children just haven’t been taught better.

        • What the heckity heck are you talking about? Are you saying, seriously, that you think children that are homeschooled are speaking a ‘foreign’ language to children at their neighborhood park because the homeschooled children have no exposure to computers? I’m dying laughing right now. YOU have access to a computer and still aren’t able to comprehend this article!

        • That’s the silliest himg I’ve ever heard. My nieces are homeschooled for very good reasons. They speak very clearly. I’ve seen the oldest, 14, walk up to a child when she was younger and say “Hi, mind if I join you in the sandbox?” And four kids stared at her like they’d just seen an alien. Their parents had to come over and intervene and answer for them. One of them started sobbing and ran away.

          These were nine year olds and up! Homeschool children are not speaking Klingon, or gibberish, what the heck?

          What you miss is that public school children are horribly unsocialized. They are in class, what, seven hours a day and barely allowed to talk. Some schools have no-talk lunches. That’s not socialization! All they do it form cliques and exclude each other for the slightest things. What I see more and more are homeschool parents actually teaching their kid skills and school kids being helicopters over by parents and so unsure of themselves they can’t deal with polite interactions. They need mommy and daddy for everything.

          And before you go on about electronic devices. My nieces, in fact, no child Of my friends under 17 had a Facebook or any social media and if they do have a phone it’s a very basic flip phone with no features.

      • Yep, exactly the same here. My 6 year old doesn’t see age, gender or colour, she just sees potential new friends so goes over and says “Hello, do you want to play with me?” or similar, and is often met with a blank. She has been doing this since she was able to walk and talk, most of the time the reaction is positive, but often enough it’s not. Other parents often comment that they wish their child was like that!

        She also finds that sometimes the older kids or friendship groups will start to mock her, boss her about or start the bitchiness games. When that happens she just goes and finds someone else to play with, or walks away. She is strong enough to do that still, thankfully. We certainly don’t need socialisation if that’s what it equates to!

      • I totally get that!! I home school my 6 year old daughter but I also have 2 stepsons. 14 and 10. I cant remember where we were at but there was a ton of kids. And my daughter was running around talking to everyone and there were some kids my oldest stepsons age and I acutally heard him say… “I’m not going to talk to those kids, I have no idea who they are!”

        All I could think was, seriously? How are you going to venture out into the real world if you dont talk to people you dont know. We encounter strangers everyday! my daughter may not have a friend that she plays with on a regular basis but she can go and will go anywhere and meet “friends” And if I see a friendship that would work both for all of us I will make sure to get a phone number.

  2. My 6you son has experienced similar. He was playing in the park and saw a group of around 5 girls (I would guess aged 7/8) playing and went over to join them. He was not allowed to play with them or even for them to speak to him because he was a boy and didn’t go to their school. He was confused as to why this was a problem : he is used to going to various home ed meets and playing with various kids of varying ages, and 4 of his “besties” are girls.

  3. Yes, my 4 & 2 year old runs up to everyone they see and enquire about their names and what they are doing and we also just receive blank stares. Almost like they have been caught off guard and don’t know how to socialize or converse with someone else they don’t know or who are not in the same age group. I find it pretty bizarre!! My oldest just thinks they are shy. I think technology has contributed to that!!! emotional intelligence is going down the drain.
    It’s sad to me some days, as my oldest is very outgoing and loves people – the world is so stuck in its ways that it can’t embrace life when they see it.
    I do find homeschooling a bit lonely some days or a mission to socialize with other homeschoolers who has some pretty hectic schedules.

    What is your opinion on extra curricular activities?

    • !st off I am not against proper home schooling. I have just observed many thing with the home schooled children I see. I believe that your family has a secret hidden” code”, you understand the words your child is trying to say other people have no idea what your kids are saying, because they are not saying the real words. You may have learned that figure really means fingers but you by keeping your child away from others to protect them and at the same time do not listen to other children to know that even though you know what your child means by a word other do not know so they may stare in bewilderment of what you child just said. You may have to translate for them into common language so others can understand and respond to your child. Children usually make friends very easy because they see other children and want to be with them. But come on how often are you children allowed to be with others due to the constant Homeschooling which involves separation from other children because home schooled kids spend most of their time only with mom and or dad. By the time the day is over the other kids are tired, they have schedules to follow where as you child can decide when to do what ever is on the schedule if there even is one. I know many homeschooled children make their own schedule and it does not match that of others. Yes I know you do this on purpose so your children will be different unique and be able to choose their life the way you and your child want it to by, mostly you. This does make it very difficult for your child to interact with others due to lack of opportunity.

      • My little boy is home-educated. We have one day a week at home. Monday is gymnastics and drama (plus the park), Tuesday is swimming or trampolining, home-ed group meet up and then he goes to the local school’s afterschool club for 3 hours, Wednesday is mini-gym and meeting with friends, Thursday is athletics and the school’s after school club for another 3 hours. Weekends are spent doing family activities but usually end up playing with children at the places we meet. He regularly interacts with about 50 children mostly within 2 years of his age but varying by about 14 years from oldest to youngest. We also take around 6 foreign students / travellers a year for a labour exchange program during the summer months – they’re normally aged 18 – 30 years old. What you’ve written is absolutely not applicable to my child, and we are typical home-educators (in Scotland.) However, the “schooled” child not really knowing how to react with someone outwith their clique is a very common phenomenon, it doesn’t seem to bother my boy as he seems to get on with most kids and on the occasion he can’t win someone round he finds someone else to play with, but I watch it a lot at the park after school, all the same little uniforms sticking together and never mixing. So, actually, I think you are wrong.

        • It sounds like you and your child have a fantastic home education program and what I have seen in Washington State USA is very different. I am happy to find someone who has the understanding of what home education should be. Thank you for replying to me and letting be aware that what I have seen may not be universal. . It sounds like in your case I am wrong. So refreshing to hear you way of home education enjoy.

          • I am a homeschooling mom in Washington state, and a former homeschooling mom in England. The comments from the lady in Scotland, above, are likewise typical of homeschoolers in England and in Washington state. I have no idea what your source is for meeting homeschooled children, but your comments do not reflect the reality as I know it. Washington state has a myriad of homeschooling communities, and our own advocacy organization state wide. I suggest you look up Washington homeschoolers association (WHO) if you truly wants a clear picture of homeschooling in your state, and are not just exercising uninformed free speech. Blessings!

        • Linda Sheidler

          July 6, 2016 at 3:40 pm

          The “codes” I am referring to is where people think it is cute or do not want their children to be wrong so the parent use the words their children try to say but aren’t even close, thus creating a family code. Using non words because the parent knows what the child intended to say. When the child tries to talk to others they continue to use non words and the other children do not know what the child said so do not answer. I believe this is why the blank stares. I feel this doesn’t help children socially. It sounded like you were complaining about other children not noticing yours enough and so you blamed them for mistreating your children. Then at the same time saying your children are just fine it is every one else that is the problem.. my observation

          • She’s 7. She speaks normally.

            The child I was talking about came over the next day and played for 4 hours. The problem is not she doesn’t understand her. She plays with her most afternoons. EXCEPT when she has a school friend over. Then it is ‘cool’ and funny to be rude to other people instead.

          • I think it’s unfair for you to make this judgment, Sara is clearly mentioning the social dynamics at work here not the lack of her child’s communication with the other child.

        • Just wanting to thank you SO much for this post. I just came across your blog. My children (1, 3, and more specifically, my daughter who is 5), are often met with blank stares in large groups of children and I just didn’t understand why. Not always, but often. She is kind and speaks well and is a lot of fun :). In my opinion, anyway :). I have tried sending her to a few day camps and the feedback is often that when she asks to play with the other kids, they just stare at her. It’s confusing. When we get together in small groups with like-minded families (homeschooled or not), this isn’t an issue. Your post really helped me feel not alone and make sense of this behaviour… I just wasn’t understanding the blank stares.
          (And those comments from that Linda lady were very inappropriate and off base, by the way…)

      • I have to admit that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Children having codes like that. I have laughed about that one for a little bit. I home educated my middle child for a year, amazingly she was able to go up to introduced herself by saying “Hi, I’m Tori, what’s your name?” and amazingly other kids in the public schools responded to her quite well. Even when playing with other children on our street ages 2-9 they can all amazingly function very well together, we have a mixture of home educated, public school, relaxed private school, and strict private school and they’ve yet to look at anyone like they’ve grown another head unless one of the kids suggests an off the wall idea for a game.

      • This is the weirdest theory on homeschooling I’ve ever read! I was homeschooled through middle school and got picked on all the way through college because I spoke “too proper”. My daughter, whom I homeschool, started speaking complete sentences shortly after turning one (she’s 7 now). She too has been picked on and neglected by public school kids. She mostly thinks THEY’RE the weird ones. She considers every child her friend. She’s a year ahead for our school system. She has an eidetic memory which challenges me! I have three other children that I’m in the process of schooling or will be in the next two years. I’m sorry that you’ve seen some horrible homeschool families (although I’d challenge what you qualify as not being up to par), but I assure you-most of us have a pretty decent grasp on what we are doing. This decision. ISN’T about us, but what’s best for our children. I have an ADD child with SPD tendencies who would not have survived in a public school setting. I know this, because his dad has the same issues and was completely ignored in school and was never offered any help not guidance. Our son thrives at home and is incredibly smart at only 5 years old. Try to get to know homeschool families before making off-the-wall assumptions. We’d be glad and thrilled to answer any questions you might have. But no, there’s no “code”. Homeschool kids communicate just like any other child.

      • Listen, Linda, listen! You can clearly see that you’re uneducated in the matter at hand. This secret code you speak of may be a child with special needs simply speaking, and their attentive parent has an understanding of their speech patterns. Homeschooled children have plenty of opportunities, as much, if not more than public schools provide. Ignorance is bliss!

      • “Homeschooled children spend most of their time only with mom or dad.”..
        My kids see more children and adults during the week BECAUSE we homeschool than they would in public school where they only see their 1-2 teacher and the same 22 students day in and day out then have to go home and do school.
        My kids extracurriculars happen during the daytime and they meet kids 2-13 years, plus many adults at the library, the grocery store, violin lesson, church etc.
        Linda, your bias about homeschoolers is fairly off mark and you have no clue what “proper homeschooling” is. SOME of the parents you are observing may actually have children that have special needs and you are making assumptions that all us homeschoolers have some secret family code. That is laughable to say the least.

        None of the homeschool kids have ever scoffed at a kid for not being in the same coop as them, but the PS kids often play the “you don’t go to my school” game of exclusion.

      • Linda,

        Your comments seem odd and out of place. I don’t even know where to begin. You say, “1st off I am not against proper homeschooling” as if there was a proper way to homeschool. Families choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons and a one size fits all approach is a public school idea, not a homeschool one. You then go on to bash homeschooling saying that “how often are your children allowed to be with others due to the constant homeschooling.” So all I see is you being against homeschooling.

        Socialization is the process by which we teach children to be functioning members of society upon reaching adulthood. When children are grown they will not spend 7-8 hours a day with a group of 20-30 people all their own age, day after day. Instead they will interact with a variety of ages and races, with disabilities, etc. Therefore it stands to reason that homeschooling will actually better socialize children– since they are not in a classroom 8 hours a day they intend get to be out in the world socializing with many different ages, races, abilities, etc. They get to interact with these people in a variety of settings, not just the classroom.

        Homeschooled children often have more interactions with others, not less. Instead of spending a whole year with the same 30 or so kids, homeschoolers get to make lots of friends wherever they go Most homeschooled families are involved in homeschool co-ops, organizations like 4-H and boy scouts, as well as church groups and functions. Many are involved in some kind of charity work, sports or dance, etc. They run errands with their families to the post office, the grocery store, the library and interact with people from all walks of life.

        I don’t know where this “kids need public school to socialize” argument came from. If we go back 75 years school teachers would get downright angry for kids socializing in school. School was a place to learn, not to socialize with other kids. Socialization was to be done outside the school. You were there to sit in your seat and learn, not socialize.

        I don’t know what your problem with homeschooling is Linda, but I don’t think you’re airing it in the right place or in the right way.

      • Linda-
        “You may have learned that figure really means fingers but you by keeping your child away from others to protect them and at the same time do not listen to other children to know that even though you know what your child means by a word other do not know so they may stare in bewilderment of what you child just said. ”
        What?! Haha this is absolute gibberish! I believe, ironically, that you are trying to say that homeschooled children don’t know how to articulate speech correctly? Nope, sorry, I’ve taught many children, both homeschooled and public schooled and hands down, the most articulate and socially acceptable are the homeschooled kids. They are kind and bright, and after years of working with both groups there is absolutely no way to think that the homeschooled kids are lacking in any department, speech or otherwise. I believe you have a strong opinion, backed by your own thoughts and nothing else. You need to get more education and less irritation on the matter. Good luck

  4. Just so glad my kids won’t have to experience all the social angst and stress that comes with the school environment, though the alternative has its own challenges of course.
    We are constantly surprised (though getting used to it) at the way kids in the park/library etc won’t even acknowledge a simple greeting. This is learned behaviour! The adults are teaching the kids to be anti social! I’m working hard to undo all the shyness and anxiety I learned in school but it’s a work in progress.
    Both my husband and I were smiley, happy, chatty kids until we went to school, and then we became quiet and shy, and I became very anxious over the years. And yet our parents haven’t recognised the glaringly obvious connection. Just ‘kids change at that age’. So sad.

  5. This type of “socialization” happens anywhere and at any age and being exposed to it doesn’t necessarily make one immune to it or better at it; I’ve been dealing with it most of my life and I still struggle with it. I’m glad my young children don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis in a school setting.

  6. My oldest is 3 and I’ve observed too that he loves to go up to other kids his age at the park/library/etc. Luckily, I live in a community where homeschooling is not a foreign word. Some kids respond, some don’t, and I just have to explain to him that sometimes not everyone would like to talk back and he can do his own play and make it exciting. I think this is all part of “life skills” at the end of the day. In adulthood, not everyone wants to “play” either. 🙂

  7. It’s an interesting topic. My child (7) who is not home-schooled has been bullied twice in the last three months. The first incident by his cousin, who is home schooled, at a family gathering. And now for a month by a neighbor boy, who is home schooled. The socialization is not taught in school. It’s taught and allowed by parents. Parents that are bullies themselves, or who are oblivious to the child’s behaviors.

  8. We can totally relate to this. We have neighbors over the fence and my son is almost 6. The neighbor friend hos age is 6 and there are siblings. My kids look over the fence same as yours–so cute! Some days they play well, some days they chat over the fence. BUT
    man, there are many days my kids go unanswered. Often. And then the other kids go inside, without word. And it BREAkS my heart. I really do believe it happens when they go to school. The neighbor girl was really sweet always until pre-k. And I always wonder if the mother noticed the difference. Her daughter is now more insular, and less able to talk to even me. I have to admit the choices for education we are making–this is one of the things that break me. The fact that almost no one around them will be free and they might feel seperate and hurt by these other people who know not what they do.

  9. Hey Sara, I’m really interested to know how you would explain and help your kids with this issue. Unfortunately my daughter will experience this a lot more than your girls as she goes to school and already she has mentioned mean things some girls say and do. I think that might be one of the reasons I hated school but loved university. People seemed more friendlier at uni and I felt like there were less cliques at uni too.

    • I’m not sure Nila!! It’s a tricky one. I usually just empathise and we talk about what might be going on for the person and why they may have been acting that way. I would also talk about what they can do or say if they are upset or uncomfortable to let the person know. It’s so hard!

  10. Oh my – reading this broke my heart! Both hubby and I were bullied incessantly in school, and after starting out as social, happy and kind kids we both became quite shy and anxious as a result! We’ve decided on homeschooling so our children don’t have to simply weather the bullying and clique/pack mentality encouraged in the school system – but the fact that your little one has still been a victim of this is truly upsetting. She sounds like she’s a beautiful kind little thing, but I hope this neighbor doesn’t keep up that behaviour!

    How could you even begin to explain this behaviour to your children?

      • Sorry I missed that sometime the child next door plays well with your daughter and other days does not. Children do seem to have a difficult time with more than one friend at a times. When a classmate from school is playing with the child over the fence it is possible to do something different with your child so feelings do not get hurt. I am glad that your child speak normally,( I know many who do not so was using that as a possibility). This can be a difficult time for children it is very sad for a child when they are excluded, or left out. Hopefully in time things will get better as the children grow and learn that they can interact with more than one friend. Hoping things will turn around for you and your family. Happy summer.

        • Linda, I like your comment about “realizing you can have more than one friend” — such an important developmental stage, similar to the stage where a kid has “my mommy” that can’t be shared. That identity that comes from hoarding toys and friends– however, there are real parents that do tell their kids, “Oh, that’s the family that plays all day and doesn’t go to school. I don’t trust them…” … Little kids growing up with those prejudices don’t know how not to be awkward. Then you go to college and the awkward public school girl with asperger’s gets pegged as a “homeschooler” -because many parents of ASD kids protect their kids from bullying by keeping them home– and you wonder if you shouldn’t talk to people or ask probing questions for fear of being pegged a homeschooler. It is true. In light of society we are VERY outgoing and VERY nice and VERY persistent in asking questions, things we are trained to do, but things which also looks very autistic /aspergers related.

          But …I … Oh, Linda… I wonder about your background and your perception of the homeschoolers you know. A word of caution about evaluating an odd segment of society: You sound like an outsider, which puts you in a poor position to know what homeschooling will do for a child. I know some friends of mine that were SOOOO well prepared for regular life by their parents and are very successful, but the whole community was wringing their hands at the quiet, shy, skirt-wearing family that didn’t believe in modern deodorant because “social skills” -and now the oldest is a graphic designer, the next goes on regular missions trip, the next married and moved away, the next had a hard time communicating with her parents and rebelled a little (and, even though she’s the oddball, is probably the one that the whole community looks to and says, “See, don’t homeschool, it makes kids feel uncomfortable”) because her personality was different and because of the critical thinking skills they gave her, and the next is a farmer who does well with his work, and the next is adorable and just starting adulthood, so we shall see. All this from kids whose parents were lower income marginalized members of society. If they’d been put in public school they’d probably been pigeon-holed by people misunderstanding their very aspergery Father, a man who doesn’t exactly manage time or resources well!!!— and constantly in torment due to the conflicting cultures of home and school. Their weird upbringing made them superkids, and their kids did NOT look like good homeschooling parents. Until I got graduated and realized that despite my college education, my friend’s home-based oddjobs turned into a double digit hourly wage at a home-based business the moment she married. I’m STILL FINDING MYSELF (that is, anything that works with my abilities and family life) well past University!!!! Granted, I have physical challenges and a handicapped child that don’t help a person build a career of any kind. Also a confidence issue from a couple years public school (HAHA! 🙂 ). Outsiders of the homeschool movement rarely use a good standard because they’re so used to a pigeon-holed perception of what a good person is (look like this, have parents like this, get job. Anything else, enjoy your life as a drug user, because we won’t work with outsiders). And if you don’t have a high opinion of those whose homeschool you are observing, you are often in the worst position to help or evaluate. Lots of times, families pull their kids out to keep them out of pigeon holes. Those kids that have slight, annoying, developmental delays that lead to bullying get pulled out and put where they can thrive properly. If you evaluate them by neurotypical kids in public school, it’s an unreasonable standard. And it causes people to judge homeschooling instead of recognizing what homeschoolers have accomplished with their struggling learners!

  11. The child is not being victimized, all children have the right to answer other children or not. Your children are not entitled to be answered by other children. Though you wish every one wants to pay as much attention to your children as do. The children are not bulling they have rights also, the do not have to be your child’s friend if they do not want to. They to are little children with the freedom to make choices of their own.

      • I did reread again, and replied above. May not be homeschooling makes the difference, sorry you feel it could. Just could be the age and development of the children. Still makes it hard for parents and children.

        • Linda- Why the need to be right here and foist your half baked opinions on a situation you seem to have difficulty grasping?

          In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg has a friend Rowley
          whom he is nice to when it is just the two of them, and whom he is an absolute jerk to when he is worried about social climbing and social status –Because Rowley isn’t cool and the most important thing to Greg to survive school is to be seen as cool. This dynamic makes him a shitty friend. This is the dynamic at play here.

        • Linda,
          I am a licensed and nationally certified occupational therapist who works in an outpatient clinic with 7 speech-language pathologists. I’ve read all your comments, and it would appear that you have trouble with social skills, reading comprehension and pragmatics. It’s never too late for improvement, and you may benefit from an evaluation by a local SLP.

          • GatorOT,
            Thank you! Those comments all seem to be half-baked opinions intent on squashing the realities of actual homeschooling at any cost.

          • As a mom of 3 special needs kids, 2 of whom have needed extensive speech therapy (well, one still does), 2 are ASD, and one of them is also OCD, SPD, ADHD, and has anxiety, I’ve been cringing at all of Linda’s comments.

            But, Gator OT, thank you! Your response was absolutely perfect, and relaxed me just as I was becoming very frustrated at how insensitive, and willfully ignorant some people seem to be.

            My sons don’t speak in any sort of code (in normal conversation, that is), but I have frequently had to interpret for them, and still do for the younger one – even to my husband! It’s just a matter of fact that I spend all day with him and so I have more experience listening to him. Of course, I correct his sounds when I can, but I am not likely to do so when he is in the middle of playing with new friends. I do so when we are in a safe space for him.

            I suspect Linda has no experience with special needs kids, or adults for that matter; nor does she truly understand homeschooling.

            While I’m here, Sara, I wanted to say I am really appreciating your blog and all the fabulous info you’very shared! Thanks so much!

    • Children should learn that they should speak when spoken to and that it is rude to ignore someone. It’s called manners and the don’t teach it in pubic schools anymore. Wow Linda your comments are just wacky.

    • Right! Of course children have the “right” to ignore each other, but the point is about which is more “socialized”? A child who is outgoing, friendly, and inclusive towards others, or a child who can hear another child speaking, but refuses to respond in any way? And which would we prefer for our own children? I will say there are exceptions, children who do not become “jaded” by the public school system, but more often than not, when we encounter the outgoing, friendly children on the playground, they are homeschoolers, and when we encounter rude, seemingly “snobby” children, they are public schooled.

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  13. I’ve found this happens with our son. He’s always been very articulate, and always politely introduces himself. More often than not there’s no problem, but once in a while a child will just look at him like he’s an alien. He takes it in stride, but it reminds me that most kids are only used to interacting with one peer group. I find that unfortunate and it reinforces our homeschooling decision.

  14. We have been homeschooling for 2 yrs now. My girls were in 5th grade and kindergarden. So it seemed like they fought a lot like most siblings. But after a few months it was like something clicked and they started getting along. They still have fights but nothing like before. I told a friend of mine about it when they started homeschooling. She didn’t think it was going to happen for them but all of a sudden it did! I think it has a lot to do with the “socialization ” they were getting in public school. All the ” mean girls “, drama, gossiping, etc … We still deal with those things just much more limited. Since the majority of their time is spent at home, we have a bigger influence on what is and is not an acceptable way to treat others.

  15. From the point of view of someone who was constantly asked if I had trouble socializing:

    I believe that I wouldn’t be as outgoing as I am if I hadn’t been homeschooled. If I’d have stayed in public school, I’m sure I would have been that shy kid who didn’t talk because I could blend in. My parents made me talk to people and ask questions when we homeschooled. My parents got a lot of comment from adults that it was great to have a teenager who would talk to them. My parents never worried about our socialization. We were in girl scouts and soccer and youth group. I don’t think socialization is something to worry about.

    My answer to those who would ask me about my socialization skills, I’d say, “You’re talking to me, what do you think?” And when they actually thought about it, they realized it wasn’t an issue.

  16. Sounds like Linda has no friends in real life. She must be really bored to keep commenting on a blog that she clearly has no interest in by her comments of a proper home education and condescending and authoritative attitude. How could you possibly give a diagnosis and suggest a plan for something over the internet. I doubt she is who she says. If she is she is very unprofessional. More a lonely old troll looking to engage others in a desperate attempt to feel she is relevant. What a lovely person. Judging people and offering unsolicited advice is not a great way to make friends.

  17. Am I the only one who feels like Linda is speaking in codes? I am totally confused by her information and am truly having trouble translating it. My children have always been homeschooled…one of them had a speech delay, which he overcame; however, he has always been the one who has the easiest time making friends. My oldest child who was advanced in her speech as a little girl is now a senior in high school who has completed 18 hours of college credit in her junior year at a local community college (on campus around other {gasp!} humans). At the age of four, that same child was best friends with a 6-year-old boy…they played and talked together several days a week–until he started school. In brick-and-mortar kindergarten, he learned that it was not socially acceptable to be best friends with a 4-year-old girl and ignored her from that time on. In my 14+ years of homeschooling experience, the general rule is that homeschooled kids tend to be more accepting of people who are “different” from them. They are typically intrigued by differences and usually want to get to know these people better. They are also generally very outgoing and willing to talk to just about anyone. The majority of brick-and-mortar schooled kids we know, however, tend to be more comfortable with people who are “like” them, whether it be age, social status, clothing, speech, race, etc. They seem to be afraid of being rejected by their clique if they reach beyond their usual social groups.
    Yes, I realize there are exceptions to every generalization…but this has been what I have seen over the span of time I have been involved with raising children.

    • The social psychology behind these negative behaviors is very well understood and extensively researched. You have pretty much summarized it as well as any clinical child psychologist could. It’s obvious that a well adapted child will display exceptional social skills. It’s difficult to be well-adapted coming from the dog-eat-dog savage world of most cattle/sheep schools.

  18. This article could not have come at a better time. My 17 year old son started working as a lifeguard this summer and comes home and says “Mom, why do they sit there and talk badly about this person and then when the person comes over they are best friends with them? Do you think they are doing this to me?” I of course gave him…”Buddy, not everyone is like that, but you’ve been taught differently. If they are talking about you, what could they possibly have to say that’s bad? and why would you care?” He said “I don’t know, I just kinda do.” After a long talk and a good sleep he woke up and said “I’m glad I’m not like them, who wants to add more hate in the world?” <—-Why I homeschooled and why I love this child with my whole being.

  19. Sara, so many things I want to pour out here but the most important is I just want to thank you for this post. Feel like giving you and all the HS mums here a hug for this lifesaver post and comments! Xoxo

  20. Just to be clear, bullying and exclusion are not unique to conventional schools. I can at least speak to my experience homeschooling in the States.

    My daughter and I have both felt the sting of exclusion in a Catholic homeschool co-op that we tried. Many of the moms were quite clique-ish and unwelcoming, likely because I’m not “Catholic enough.” (I don’t attend their super conservative parish, cover my head during Mass, or make a stink if the priest faces the people instead of the altar while blessing the Eucharist). And the less said about how the popular girlies treated my daughter, the better.

    The advantage of homeschooling over, say, one of the over-crowded public schools in my city, is that homeschooling gives us, as parents, the opportunity to observe these social interactions and teach our children how to interact with others using patience and kindness.

    Because exclusion and mean behavior can occur in either homeschool circles or conventional school, it is out of line to blame this blogger’s daughter, the victim, for how children treated her by suggesting that it happened because she is homeschooled and fits some contrived stereotype.

    Blessings to you on your homeschooling journey, Sara!

  21. I love this article xx Thank you for writing it, i have had nothing but trouble trying to get my son to settle into school, he is very independent and headstrong. He absolutely loved daycare and as soon as he started prep, they have tried to break him and he hates school. Your article has helped me go ahead with the decision to homeschool at the start of the new year for him. He isn’t the nice little boy he was before school, i want my son back…

  22. Thank you! You have put into perfect words what I felt my whole life – and more so now that I have my own children of school going age (by that I mean 6 ?).

  23. I agree with the so-called “socialization” of children in public school…it’s atrocious! I was called names, made fun of, ostracized and bullied in elementary and middle school, because I was an introvert, not outgoing and chatty, but I was always friendly and polite to people. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about unschooling and homeschooling and will be doing that for my three year old. Actually, I guess we’re doing that now! I’ve heard and read so many stories of bullying in schools, where it happens in the bathroom, or the hallway, or somewhere that an adult is not present, and many times even when an adult is present. Why don’t the adults in charge stop the bullying, and why are there so many places in a school where there are NO adults watching? That’s what I don’t want for my son, to just be thrown into a lion’s den when he’s not savvy enough yet to protect himself. I am the protector of my child, and I will not let him be in a situation where he is unprotected like that. Good job, Sara, I’m studying your methods! Thanks!

  24. I utterly love this post.

    It’s why we don’t shove our kids off to play with other kids (really, I have no interest in getting to know everyone on my street around my age, why would they?). If they want to they’re welcome. They don’t actually want to, because it usually leads to the sorts of behaviour you’ve described.

    They can hear the kids two doors down yelling and swearing – they’re not interested in hanging out with them. They think it’s odd that other children they’ve never met will walk right up to our gate and start bragging about whatever they think is cool about themself right now (usually a new possession), without introducing themselves or asking anything about my kids.

    And when they’ve been in situations where other kids are starting to do bitchy things and exclude and play tricks on other kids, they’ve walked off.

    They don’t want to fit in or make people like them AT ALL. By stereotypical socialisation standards they’re horribly unsocialised. But they’re lovely people who aren’t afraid to do what’s right. I’m very happy with how it’s working out.

  25. One of the things I love about homeschooling is how kids of all ages will talk and hang out with one another, something that never happens in school. Older kids take on more of a mentor role, instead of bullying the younger ones. And even parents can be friends with other children! I spent a lovely hour yesterday afternoon chatting with a 13 year old friend of my 15 year old son about a common interest, films. Schooled kids would probably give monosyllabic answers and roll their eyes if an adult dared asked them a question. And if my son were schooled, he’d probably be totally embarrassed by me talking to his friend—moreover he wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with a younger kid in the first place. I am 49 years old and one of my best friends is another homeschooling mom I met at a park day—she’s 35. Two of my other close friends are in their early 70’s. Yet we have common interests and having them in my life is a blessing. Somehow it’s okay for adults to have friends of different ages but kids must be socialized to only be friends with kids of their own age who happen to live in their school area. It’s so stupid. I’m glad my unschooled son has the opportunity to meet and interact with people of all ages.

    • Not all public school kids are snotty brats. Some are just awkward, shy, or dare I say were taught to “stop bothering” adults alone and play with children their own age. As a result they probably have no idea what to say to any, or think the adult will just laugh at or scold their opinions, as some do. I was a PS kid and preferred younger kids or easygoing adults to talk to. That stereotyping is rather like how homeschoolers are painted as weird and awkward.

  26. I came upon this blog from the Full-Time Families blog. I am a grandmother of nine, retired from counseling and teaching. I have friends who home-school and have some relatives who do. I see my grandchildren as often as possible. All of those grandchildren of school age go to public school. One went to private school for several years. Some are outgoing and some are shy. One four-year-old will NOT speak to anyone he doesn’t know. He will not respond enough to even have his speech evaluated. Some have always spoken clearly from a young age and some have had speech problems. Some are A students and some struggle. Some are model students behavior wise and a couple have behavior charts. There is a BIG variety among these nine kids so it is safe to say if you picked nine home-schooled kids you would also have a big variety! They don’t get all of their characteristics from the way they are taught. Although I was a public school teacher as is my daughter, I am very respectful of families who choose to home-school. I think there is much variety between families and within families.

    I didn’t read all of the responses and I hope you don’t mind my adding my thoughts.

    My husband and I are retired and recently sold our home. We are living in our RV and traveling to interesting places for a while. One family we met who home-schools had two boys, 10 and 11. The family stopped to talk to me to see what I was doing which was weaving/braiding a rug. The younger boy started talking immediately, asking questions faster than I could answer them. He said repeatedly that he could never make a rug. Within five minutes he was working on mine! His older brother spoke to me only a little. Different personalities! I ended up making a temporary loom for the boy who “could never” make a rug. I gave him the other sopplies he needed. We enjoyed our visits for several days while we were in the same campground. I was so delighted that the parents were friendly and allowed me to participate in this boy’s life. I think one very strong reason kids don’t speak to other children and adults they don’t know is that they are taught to be afraid. I am not afraid to speak to adults but I am nervous speaking to children. When I do I often get the “blank stare” because I am a stranger speaking to them. This makes me so sad but I am pretty sure that they are not all home-schooled kids lacking socialization.

  27. Good points about school “socialization” that needs to be discussed more. But I very strongly disagree that playing with power is at a female thing (if anything the very opposite is true; boys sadly often form a pack mentality where one must do everything to please the “alpha” at the expense of their own emotional states, or someone else’s).

  28. My daughter is 7. Went to public for k_1. She was dressed extremely bad. She has a speech issue and is oversized. She also struggled sitting in one place. She is now homeschooled and a social butterfly. She makes friends with anyone

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  30. Brilliant. This is an epidemic issue rarely brought up in public discussions. The brutal social rituals of perputating shame commonly accepted in school culture are not ideals to conform to or to be assumed as rights of passage. They are the primary source from which one generations’ wounds get passed down to the next. It’s precisely these social norms — “to conform, fit in, gossip, bully, compete, and lose their compassion and individuality” — that need the most desparate of systematic reform, especially for early childhood development. There’s so, so much more to talk about here. Thank you for starting such an important conversation.

  31. Absolutely agree. I am just considering home schooling and all anyone mentions is the social aspect. But if all school is teaching is its not good to be you? Plenty of opportunities to socialize outside school

  32. I can totally see where this parent is coming from. Socialization for its own sake can be very detrimental, especially for very young kids, if the majority of their interactions are negative examples of social behavior. We have chosen not to send our children to preschool, partly for this reason. Our kids have frequent interactions with other children in multi-age lessons and social events, where APPROPRIATE social behaviors are being modeled and inappropriate behaviors are being corrected. I think this is very important for children their age. As far as “secret codes” go, there is no “secret code” for childhood. I’m a teacher in a public school where literally 30% of our kindergarteners come in with limited to no English spoken in their household. Nevertheless, most of them are running, playing, making up rules to games, resolving disagreements etc with their friends on day one. If they can find ways to communicate while surmounting a language barrier, then Little Sally Stuck-up can manage to look up from her ipad, smile, and say “hi” in whatever language she speaks when another child approaches her and greets here. Her choice to stare blankly and ignore them is objectively rude. However, it’s also important for the well-socialized child to understand that not all children are on the same level playing field. Some children have autism, or social-anxiety, or have only experienced interactions with other children that were guided entirely by adults, or have been told not to speak to strangers and can’t tell the difference between a child on the playground and a kidnapper, or just aren’t that bright. A truly well-socialized child knows how to identify and deal compassionately with atypical situations like these, and the only way they are going to learn is by being exposed to them. For that reason, we intend to send our children to school when they reach elementary age.

  33. I used to think homeschooled kids were very well socialized when the parents made sure they also interacted with other homeschooled kids and kids at church. They are VERY well socialized in some ways – I certainly like their maturity, politeness, and the lack of bullying/angst they experience. However…the kids I know who are homeschooled lack a basic love/compassion for kids who are not homeschooled Christians – the only groups of kids they really know. They do not exhibit or feel hatred towards them. They do express lots of criticism (picked up from their parents, no doubt) about their culture and ways. But when this criticism comes from a lack of actually knowing those kids or the culture, then there is a very flat/1 dimensional attitude towards them – they lack real love, of course, because they don’t get a chance to love them in person. The absence of hatred does not create love or compassion. I love that they love their faith and their values, but there is a lack of humility in it all as well, and an inability to see anything differently than their families do (speaking generally). I still don’t think this is a reason to sacrifice homeschooling for the horrible aspects of socializing that occurs in regular schools, but it is important to be aware of what they are inevitably missing out on, as well, because 2 parents, or even a group of homeschoolers, or even a church, cannot provide all of that socializing. So the best we can do is prepare them well for when they will encounter society, to develop that humility – we can do that through discussing stories, books, movies, current events – not in an “us” vs. “they” way, but in a way that we teach and convey the importance of our values, but also being empathetic with the perspectives and issues that those “outsiders” are dealing with. Then their hearts and minds and attitudes won’t be “flat” towards them, but they will flex their muscles, learn to fill them out, and when they are out of the homeschooling environment, learn to really serve and love others while remaining strong to their own values.

    • Wow. So you’re saying that homeschoolers are intolerant toward anyone not fitting in their group? No wonder you posted anonymously.

      Any group that becomes insular becomes intolerant. You’ve fallen back on the ‘sheltered homeschooler’ stereotype, when many of us homeschool because we want to expose our children to more than school would, to broaden their worldview and encourage them to think critically and have compassion for all. There’s always groups in any society that seek to block other people from their community, and school or lack of it wouldn’t make a difference. The Brethren come to mind – their children are schooled, but non-Brethren teachers and staff aren’t employed.

      Personally, as a family of atheists, dozens of devout Christians and Catholics have invited us into their homes and made us feel extremely welcome. Religion (or lack of it) has never been an issue.

      Yet another broad generalisation based on a few anecdotes.

  34. Exactly. I have this comment thrown at me all the time. I homeschooled 4 children and I stand by my observation and belief that socialization is leaned at home not in school. It is not the place of society to rear our children but it is a God given right and responsibility to train up our own children.

  35. Exactly!! I am often faced with this comment and even argument. I homeschooled 4 children and I stand to my observation and conviction, that children Lear social behaviour at home. It is a God given bright and responsibility to train up our children in the way he/she must go.

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