Reason #3: Socialization

The big “socialization” issue. “What about socialization?” This is (update: used to be) the first question we get when someone asks us about homeschooling. They always seem worried about our poor, poor child whom they assume won’t be allowed to play with other “normal” children, or to have the “normal” experience of growing up in school. Some people still believe that the only way to learn how to get along with others and to function in society is by attending school. They have never second-guessed that assumption. Well, here’s my answer to that concern:

My children will get more real-life “social time” than even public school kids do.


Laynie and her (public-schooled) BFF

It’s really just an innocent or ignorant belief that leads people to be concerned for homeschoolers’ social welfare. They simply aren’t aware… they just don’t know what it’s really like to homeschool. The only thing I can hope is that they will see my children and how “normal” they really are, and their concerns will disappear.Perhaps their understanding of homeschooling has been misrepresented by one peculiar case. Sure, maybe a few of the homeschoolers out there are real weirdos, I’ll admit that because I’ve seen some myself. BUT… most are not – I’ve seen that for myself too. Most homeschooled children are “normal,” or I can boldly dare to say even better off in various social situations than other kids are. In fact, I’d be so proud if my child(ren) grew up to be just like most of the homeschooled graduates I know.

Since I was a teacher in the public school system, I am well aware that public schools are not the setting where children get to socialize in the first place. For example, most schools allow children to talk to each other freely ONLY at lunch and at recess. That’s not very much “social time.” But, if they’re in a school such as the ones I’ve worked in, here’s the truth about that: Lunch lasts 30 minutes, and the first 5-10 minutes are spent waiting in a quiet line for your food, then the next 10 minutes are required silent lunch demanded by the principal because someone complained that the cafeteria was too loud. For the same reason, assigned seats are given at lunch time. So, that leaves about 10 minutes of free social time, that is, IF you like the person you’re sitting beside in your assigned seating arrangement.

And, at recess, let’s say the school-wide policy is that classes are not allowed to mingle together (for safety reasons), and that the teachers must spend at least the first 10 minutes in a teacher-led, cooperative activity (for maximum educational opportunity because of what’s deemed a productive use of time). Also, take away the fact that it takes a class of 20-30 kids about 5 minutes of traveling time walking in a straight line to and from the playground. So, that leaves about 10 minutes of free social time at recess too.On top of that reality… the children are only socializing with an assigned, limited group of same-age peers, day in, day out. Not really a wide range of social opportunities there, if you really think about it. Oh, and don’t forget the bus ride home. Most people shudder when considering the social experiences during those hours…

In the real world, we’re never strictly working with only our age-group, and we must learn to cooperate and collaborate with those older and younger than us. Homeschooled kids are out in the “real world” on a daily basis – whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, or seeing Mom get a license renewed at the DMV, participating in co-ops and structured field trip groups, attending church or community group functions, taking elective classes or participating in sports, or volunteering weekly at a nearby home for the elderly. Most homeschooled kids receive very valuable experiences to teach them how to engage in real-life social situations.

Most homeschooled kids are allowed numerous opportunities to play for unlimited amounts of time with one another, and the same opportunities for community sports and recreational activities with peers their age, as well as peers that are not their same age.Most homeschooled students I know function more comfortably in a wide range of social situations than some non-homeschooled kids I also personally know. It’s only obvious that when you spend less time in “school” (elementary homeschoolers only need 1-3 hours of school-time per day) then you’ve got so much more time to play and have fun with your friends, or participate in extra-curricular activities. In fact, I’ve heard many a homeschool mom state, “We really need to cut back on our outings or we won’t be getting any work done!”

Homeschool co-ops also provide opportunities for children to work cooperatively on educational tasks, very similar to (if not exactly like) public school children’s experiences in cooperative groups. Some co-ops provide classes very similar to a school setting – where children pack a backpack and lunch and spend a few hours in “class” during the day. Some provide regular outings and field trips, or playdates at the local park. Some even have yearbooks, proms, sports teams that compete against public/private schools, and high school graduation ceremonies at the downtown convention center, etc. You name it, there’s probably a homeschooling co-op or group near you that offers it!

Some homeschoolers choose to educate at home because of the socialization issue. And, yes, that includes me. I am avoiding that my child will be “socialized” by attending a public school system that I see as lacking in the area of true socialization.So, if you’re considering homeschooling, be encouraged that the socialization issue really isn’t an issue. You get to decide exactly how your child gets “socialized!”