Homeschooling and Socialization
The absolute number one comment or question I get when I tell people we are homeschooling is about socialization. No one has ever been concerned that my kids won’t get a good education at home, but I have had lots of comments about kids needing to go to school for the socialization, and many stories about friends of friends who knew someone who was homeschooled and they turned out ‘weird’. Honestly, this was probably the first thing I thought of when considering homeschooling too. But I can say now that, for many reasons, it is not something I am concerned about at all…
Homeschooled kids get a lot of social contact. There is SO much going on for homeschoolers. If we wanted to, we could meet up with other people every day of the week. There is always something being organized somewhere. We attend a homeschool co-op once a week where we learn about different topics and play with other kids. We also usually have at least one other play date with friends during the week. There is also excursions, sports days, camps, and classes to get involved in. Out of school hours homeschoolers socialize with school kids just like they do, whether it be just playing with neighbours, or through extracurricular activities.
Homeschooled kids learn to socialize with people of all ages. One advantage of homeschooling, I think, is that our children are always socializing with mixed age groups. Having friends your own age is important, but there is also a lot to be learnt by spending time with people of all ages. When playing with children younger than them I see my girls being very nurturing, gentle, and taking on a motherly role. When playing with older kids I see them observing, learning, and being inspired by them. They enjoy both being a role model and teacher for younger children, and also learning from the older ones. Being around other homeschoolers means they are often around other adults apart from family as well, and they learn how to interact with them also.
Homeschoolers get a lot of ‘real world’ socialization. I have heard the argument a lot that children need to go to school because they need to learn to deal with the ‘real world’. This makes no sense to me. Homeschooled children are in the ‘real world’ 100% of the time. Is school the real world? At no other time in my life have I been in a situation where I only socialized with my same aged peers for years on end.
Young children need guidance. I think that socialization is very important for children, but I also believe that young children need the guidance of their parents in social situations. Is putting a group of 5 year old’s together and letting them work out social skills on their own a successful way to socialize a child? The problems we have with bullying would suggest it is sometimes not. Playing and working with peers is a great way to test out your social skills, but during the early years I believe children also need guidance from parents in navigating this complex social world.
Kids don’t have to learn to deal with bullying. Unbelievably I have seen this comment many times too, that kids need to learn to deal with bullying. Really? No, I don’t think so. If an adult is bullied in the workplace do they just need to learn to deal with it? No. So why does a child need to? Learning to deal with conflict, yes! And there are many opportunities for this in everyday life. Learning to deal with being bullied, no.
Is school a guarantee of a well socialized child? Well, no. And neither is homeschooling. There are no guarantees with anything, and there is more than one way to learn social skills. Both are valid choices!
Close relationships with family. One reason I loved the idea of homeschooling was the opportunity it would give my kids to develop closer relationships with family members. I love that they have more time available to spend with extended family and the learning that comes about from that. Their family love hearing about what they are learning and are keen to be involved which is amazing! They are also able to develop strong sibling relationships. My girls are very close and I wonder how that would have changed had they been separated during school hours. I am happy that they are able to spend so much time together developing bonds that will last a lifetime.
The research. As with any big decisions I make, I want to know what the research says. And despite the common misconceptions, I was happy to discover that homeschooled kids do equal or better than their schooled peers in all measures, including socialization. This is independent of parental education, income, and teaching style!
You can read more here…
Summary of Australian Research on Home Education
Homeschool Progress Report 2009
Although it’s the first question people ask when they hear of homeschooling, the issue of socialization is honestly not something I really think about anymore. There are many ways to help develop your children’s social skills. School may be the choice for the majority, but that doesn’t mean it is the only way. I can see my kids thriving through homeschooling, in all areas, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about. So next time you meet a homeschooler, surprise them and ask about what their kids are interested in at the moment, instead of if they’re well socialized. You might make their day!
The socialisation doesn’t really cross my mind it’s always the quality Of education and for myself I wonder how well I could adapt and change to each child’s learning style. I also think if my child wants to be a doctor or engineer for example am I capable to adequately teach them the things necessary for them to Follow that path and not make it more difficult for them with further hurdles to jump through. In saying that I also know that in some circumstances I might be more capable than some teachers but to me that comes down to choice in schools as well. It seems to me that it’s just another one of those parenting decisions we have to make and we need to do a lot of research and put in a lot of thought about what is best to your individual family
You’re certainly right, it’s a hard decision and it’s different for every family! I guess I see it that school is always going to be there. If at any point I feel like that’s the better option then I can change my mind. I hear of a lot of older HS kids going to TAFE and Uni early too, to study a particular interest. There are so many resources around I’m sure we will find the right way for us 🙂
Thanks for your comment! I love to hear what other people think.
Reading your information on home schooling has just started my mind racing with possibilities. I have a 3 year old daughter who sounds just like your little girls with questions on questions on questions! I am a huge believer in play based learning, open ended experiences and the theory of loose parts. Hence why I have been concerned and stressed about how my daughter will cope let alone thrive with the transition from her home learning style to mainstream schooling. Your words have inspired me to investigate the idea of home schooling so thank you very much!
Oh wow, thank you. That is so awesome to hear. I’m really glad to have helped.
And I have to say it is so hard for me to read about homeschooling. I am a big fan of this concept and I have a little girl who turns 6 soon and has to go to school this fall. She will never be able to experience homeschooling because it is not allowed in my country. I would lose her to an orphanage and go to prison if I ever dared to homeschool her anyways. What a country!!!! It breaks my heart, it really does! You guys are so lucky!
That is so difficult! 🙁
Speaking as a young woman who grew up experiencing it all (homeschooling, private school, private school where my mother was a teacher, and public school), I can say that there are good and bad points to socialization in all these circumstances. All of these benefits of homeschooling are indeed benefits. Unfortunately there are also detriments, though this may largely be due to the fact that both my parents are highly introverted and didn’t understand just how much I craved a close friend. To say that home-schooled children get a lot of social contact only works if parents are willing to put in the effort to give them those opportunities. Extracurricular activities and lessons would have been available to me if my parents had signed me up for them but this never happened until I was a 4th grader and had started attending private school. To say that home-schooled children learn to interact with people of all ages is true, however my experience was that I learned possibly a bit TOO well how to interact with people who were not my own age, to the point that when I was placed in situations with people my own age, I had no idea how to behave and embarrassed myself frequently because I could hold a long complicated conversation on theology with a woman my grandmother’s age but didn’t understand the basic social norms of the playground. To me my peers were the younger children to be nurtured because I didn’t see myself as being the same age as them. To say that bullying doesn’t happen is also not the case, especially if you have more than one child. Siblings can be the biggest bullies. In this case it all comes down to parenting. Homeschooling isn’t going to fix everything. Sending a child to school isn’t necessarily the answer either. Good parenting is really the only answer regardless of the educational route you choose. In my case, all these experiences gave me a unique outlook on life, but it hasn’t always been easy, and I can still see the effects of my usual social upbringing today as I didn’t have friends until college and even now all my friends are older than me. This isn’t a bad thing, and I’m very happy, but if I ever choose to homeschool my own children someday, I’ll certainly make an effort to do it differently.
You have a very valid point that it’s the quality of parenting that is most important. Sara’s children here are thriving due to her and her husband’s wonderful parenting skills.
I’m glad you know how to parent differently to your early experience.
Hey, do to have any points on where to find more research that confirms homeschooled kids do well socially? Thanks