Let’s have a conversation about the number one objection I get about homeschooling; socialization.
“How will they be socialized?!?!” “My kid needs to have more interaction with his peers.” “How will they learn to interact with other children, stand in line, wait their turn, converse intelligently etc.?”
1. acontinuingprocesswherebyanindividualacquiresapersonal identityandlearnsthenorms,values,behavior,and social skills appropriatetohisorher social position.
2. theactorprocessofmaking socialistic
Let’s pull that apart a little bit. Socialization is defined as a continuing process. This means that it is NEVER over! How many graduated from high school 18 year olds do you know that have perfected their social graces? Not many right? This is because every time we are thrown into a new situation we must once again redefine our social place in that situation and the appropriate behaviors for that situation. The more new situations we are allowed to encounter the more fluidly we can adapt to future situations. In this area homeschoolers are at a great advantage. One of the huge downfalls of public education is that children are in the same classroom with the same 20-30+ students and the same teacher day after day. This significantly reduces their ability to experience and understand new social situations. The homeschooler, on the other hand, is able to associate with people of all ages in many different situations on a daily basis. There seems to be a common image of homeschoolers sitting at home alone all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Homeschooled kids have plenty of practice with taking turns, sharing, using kind words, and so much more by simply interacting with their families. On top of that we go to the park, the grocery store, the museum, our friends homes, playgroups, and so much more. Each new situation allows them to take another step down that endless path of learning social skills.
The next few words are the most important to me: “whereby an individual acquires a personal identity”. In my homeschool, my children’s unique personalities are embraced and celebrated. Their strengths, weaknesses, passions, and interests guide our learning, allowing them to embrace what defines their personal identity. The structure of public school is not designed to create personal identity. Rather, it is designed to squash it! There are AMAZING teachers out there who do a wonderful job of recognizing the individual, but the system as a whole is not built to do this. With so many children in a room, a teacher can only do so much to individualize for each of them. They must prepare for the test. They must follow the standards that are laid out for them concerning what to teach and when. Even the best teacher is severely restricted in the amount of personal identity that she is allowed to embrace in her students. Now lets throw some peer pressure into the mix. If a 5-year-old is in a room full of girls who love princesses while she adores Thor, how likely is she to speak up? Well, that all depends on how much personal identity she has. I guarantee you the other 5-year-old children in the room are not going to encourage her to speak up. Quite the opposite, they will probably tell her she is weird. The personal identity aspect of socialization is developed outside of the classroom, even in those who attend public school. It is not something my child needs to be in a classroom to learn.
The final piece of this definition is, “learnsthenorms,values,behavior,and social skills appropriatetohisorher social position”. This is the part of socialization that is learned regardless of where you attend school. The real question here isn’t whether homeschool vs. public school does a better job at teaching norms, values, behaviors, etc. The real question here is who or what defines their appropriate social position? In public school this position is defined primarily by peers, with some input from teachers and administrators and even less input from parents at home. In homeschool, this position is defined primarily by the parent with some input from peers, mentors, relatives, and others. How much input do you want when your child is seeking to understand his social position? I prefer to be the main voice that helps him discover who he is and where he belongs in this world.
Now before I wrap this up lets take a quick look at definition #2 “theactorprocessofmaking socialistic”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly interested in making my children “socialistic”. If this is the goal of going to school, then I am more than happy to say, “Count me and my kids out!”
What do you do to give your children enough opportunities to learn appropriate social skills? How do you as a parent combat the negative skills they learn outside of the home?