What about socialization? It’s the most commonly asked question about homeschooling. When people who don’t homeschool find out you’re homeschooling, or even thinking about homeschooling, it’s the first thing they ask.
What about socialization?
I find it interesting that socialization seems to be everyone’s number one concern about homeschooling, even though
a. The purpose of school is to receive an education, and
b. There are plenty of people who go to public schools who are socially inept.
But my purpose in this article is not to discuss either the philosophy or inadequacy of the public school system. I would like to help new homeschoolers to think ahead before answering this inevitable question.
OK, so you’ve just been asked THE question. “What about socialization?”
Before you answer, first think about who you are talking to. Is this person someone that you’re likely to see again? Your answer to friends and relatives should probably be more complete than one you give to the grocery checker or the neighbor from down the street. Also, if possible, try to determine if the person is truly interested in having a discussion on the issue, or if they’re just repeating the question because they’ve heard it from someone else.
Suggested responses to the socialization question:
1. The short and sweet response:
No need to worry about that. The children have lots of opportunities to socialize.
2. The detailed list response:
Socialization? We socialize all the time. Johnny is chairman of the activities committee for our homeschool group. The children also play soccer, basketball, and tennis. We go to co-op once a week, skating once a month, and a science class. We also volunteer at the nursing home and the homeless shelter as well as teach ESL classes to refugees.
3. The definition response:
Do you really mean socialization? Socialization means a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. (dictionary.com) Is it sensible to expect children to learn how to be responsible adults by learning their social skills in a room full of children? They might learn how to act more like typical American children at school, but that’s not one of our family goals. Our children will be much better socialized by being homeschooled.
4. The “No thanks” response:
Although I’m sure that there are some “good” kids emerging from the public schools, we’ve seen enough of the ungodly attitudes, dress, speech, and behavior prevalent among children today that we’ve determined to follow a different path as God leads us in educating our children.
Obviously each of these are hypothetical responses to the socialization question. Adapt them to use in your specific situation. Remember that with friends and relatives they will have the opportunity to see your kids grow and see if they are “anti-social.”
I should also note that there are some people to whom you will not be able to explain homeschooling. PERIOD. There are occasions where you may have to agree to disagree while remaining gracious. That is why I left out another possible response to the question: sarcasm. I don’t disagree that sarcasm may be useful, not to mention funny, in responding to these questions, but it can make people defensive and provoke them to attack back. For some people, a sarcastic comment may be all that will shut them up. However, I would suggest using sarcasm very sparingly if ever.
So, how do you handle the socialization question? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions!
Rachel R says
I get a variation on that usually – there are so many homeschoolers in our community, it’s impossible to visit anywhere without running into somebody who homeschools. Anyway, the question/statement I hear most is “But don’t you think your child needs friends her own age?” … mostly asked of my highly impulsive and talkative 14 year old daughter. Especially since I don’t drive at all and we live way out in the country.
She really does have tons of friends, but most are younger than she is – and she is amazing working with very young or special needs children.
So this year we let her join Facebook, gave her an email account and a Google Reader. I check the email and Google Reader for content every week or so – she only signs up for places I tell her to go – is watched carefully. But Facebook has been great for her – she has connected with the daughters of friends of the family and those around town – almost every one of these girls are also monitored by their own mothers, and she’s become friends with many family members – aunts and cousins mostly. I know her Daddy is her friend, and a few other Daddies, and a couple of “little brother” types … but mostly she friends with girls.
I think it’s funny how the question seems satisfied by the response that she has a ton of girlfriends on Facebook. She’s happy with this solution too. And all those Mom’s and Dad’s (all over the world) mostly are watching their daughters as closely as we watch ours.
.-= Rachel R´s last blog ..Update Aug. 11 =-.
I’ve always dreamed of responding (to a stranger) with a sarcastic, “Oh, we don’t believe in socialization.” But I’ve never quite mustered the courage. Wouldn’t that cause a reaction!
.-= Beth´s last blog ..Tidepools Theme Unit =-.
I get this question too — even in China. The issue is always posed as “But how will she make friends!?” When I reassure them that she has lots of friends and then share all the benefits of homeschooling, they seem to be reassured.
.-= Jimmie´s last blog ..Filling a Prescription for Chinese Medicine =-.
We are just about to start kindergarten, and if one more person says “oh we could never homeschool, my child is soooo social!” I’m going to scream! I just want to say “hmm, my children like to sit in the corner and suck their thumbs, so homeschooling really is a great fit for us” but somehow I think that level of sarcasm might be rude. Maybe. My kids love to spend time with friends just as much as any other child! I don’t feel the need to justify why we’re homeschooling the way others feel like they need to justify public schooling. Thanks for posting this editorial on socialization, I need some ammo as school gears up.
To give a bit of background. I have a combined family (a his and hers if you will), although my heart tells me they are all ours. We have four children combined. HIs two went to public school (I did homeschool his daughter during her pre-school years) and mine were homeschooled.
When we first met, he was afraid to ask me the socialization question. He later admitted it was something that concerned him a great deal. Once the topic came up, he confided in me that he also worried how our children would get along having been raised so differently. After several outtings with our children together, he saw for himself we had nothing to worry about.
In all truth, we have a pretty incredible family. Our children blended and love each other today as if they had always been together since birth. I’m proud of all of our children for their own personal accomplishments. But it is hard to deny they are quite different.
His children are very outgoing with other children their own age, once they have had time to get to know them. If they are taken on trips they tend to hang back to scope out the situation. They will wait for other children to approach them before they will interact. They don’t interact well with adults in public places. We can’t get them to order their own food or ask a store clerk where to find an item. They would rather go without than to ask someone they don’t know a question.
His children attended public school since kindergarten. They both have a lot of behavioural issues and have difficulty handlng serious conversations. They tend to have a lack of helpfulness and empathy for others. I believe some of this is caused by too much play time (I’m not saying children shouldn’t play or have fun, but to much of anything isn’t good). There needs to be a balance.
Mine, who were homeschooled all accept high school, are outgoing individuals. They stop to help elderly in stores bring out their groceries. If they see a child fall down they will stop to help them. They carry conversations with adults and people their own age. They have no issues with speaking up to ask questions during an interview. And if taken to a group event where they have never met anyone, they will be the first ones to approach others.
In all truth, my children have more friends than my husbands two. HIs children lack self-esteem, where mine have a good, positive feelings about themselves and others. And have positive attitudes over all. Also, we found his children don’t know how to do things for themselves. And they haven’t learned critical thinking skills. Or how to think for themselves. His lack the ability to maintain friendships for long periods of time. They are more introverted.
I have been their step-mother since his son was 5 and his daughter 2 years old. During the first years we were together, they were with us more than their mother. The big difference has been in their schooling. Their mother refused to be a part of homeschooling or allow us to do it. Such a shame.
My children are now very successful in their jobs. My daughter is buying her first home the end of this month. She is 20 years old.
We have had the experience of seeing the differences within our own home. If anything I feel children in school lack socialization due to the amount of hours they are in school. By the time they get out of school, play outside (with other children), and eat supper – it’s almost bedtime. In my personal opinion, not only did my child get more socialized, but because they were so much a part of my life they excel in life too, not just friendships.
So, if/when I’m asked the socialization question (depending on how much time I have available) ask them what exactly they mean. Then I offer to let them come spend a day with our family. That’s if I get to speak before my daughter answers the question for me. She’s a bit more spunky than the rest of us.
I don’t put anyone down for sending their children to school. It’s what we’ve been taught to do. It’s been the Norm. It’s sometimes hard to think out of the box. And after all, mine attended some school. When it was a more healthy atmosphere for them and they had already been properly socialzed.
.-= Sassafras´s last blog ..Getting Started….Choosing Curriculum =-.
I don’t understand the whole “lack of socialization” issue that some people have with homeschoolers. I have older children in public high school, and I homeschool my 2nd grader, and have since kindergarten. He is more involved in outside extra curricular activities then his older brother and sister. And, the reason for this is since he is home with me all day, I have the ability to enroll him in art class, gymnastics class, a p.e. class at our local YMCA, and go on playdates and field trips with a local homeschool group. So, yeah, I just shake my head in wonder when someone asks me about lack of socialization. LOL
.-= Tammy´s last blog ..Homeschool for Free? =-.
Great post, Kristen!
.-= Molly´s last blog ..Writing with Ease =-.
I am starting to homeschool (kindergarten) this fall. I can’t wait for someone to ask me, “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”
My answer, “Yes, I am very concerned about socalization, that is WHY we ARE homeschooling!”