Probably the question that new homeschoolers have to answer the most is, ‘What about socialization?’ Superior test scores have caused people to stop worrying that homeschoolers won’t learn necessary academic skills; however, they still worry that homeschoolers won’t learn necessary social skills. People hear the word “homeschool” and socialization is the first thing that pops into their mind.
Now that we’ve been homeschooling for 15 years and my boys are older, people don’t ask us about socialization very often anymore.
Friends and family members have seen the fruit of our labors and they don’t worry as much about the fate of our boys if we keep them out of school.
Even when they were younger, people could see a difference:
- They saw that my boys were polite.
- They observed them go into public places and approach complete strangers to sell Cub Scout popcorn.
- They heard how they can and do make friends whenever they go to a park, beach, or playground.
- They heard them carry on conversations with adults and kids alike.
- They saw how kind they were to younger children and to other kids who struggled for acceptance by others.
When you are first starting to homeschool, however, you can’t reassure well-meaning family members and friends by pointing to results in your own children. It’s extremely discouraging to begin this new journey of homeschooling only to be met with negativity by the important people in your life. So what can you do if you are in this situation?
Here are 5 points to keep in mind the next time you are confronted by critics:
1 – Socialization in schools is artificial
Yes, kids who attend public or private school become socialized. This is a false type of socialization, however. Kids are placed in classrooms by age. This is the only time in a person’s life when they will spend so much time with people who are all the same age. Being in age-segregated classrooms can lead to the students exhibiting childish behavior and disrespect.
2 – Socialization in schools can be extremely negative
Children in public schools are surrounded by violence, drugs, promiscuity, emotional disorders, criminal behavior, contempt for authority, desperate behaviors, and illiteracy. Many of them become extremely peer dependent and begin exhibiting these same behaviors. We want our kids to AVOID this type of socialization!
We personally know several kids who are bullied mercilessly in public school. And this doesn’t necessarily stop when the kids get older. Middle school is the worst but kids in high school can be terrorized as well. This is even more rampant nowadays due to social media and cyberbullying.
3 – Publicly schooled children are more likely to have antisocial behaviors
Dr. Larry Shyers, a highly qualified individual and family counselor, administered the Direct Observation Form of the Child Behavior Checklist in two groups of children for his dissertation: traditionally schooled students and homeschooled students. This checklist identifies 97 different types of problematic behaviors.
The traditionally schooled students exhibited eight times as many antisocial traits as their homeschooled counterparts. Dr. Shyers’ dissertation won the national award for excellence in research from the Educational Research Information Clearinghouse (ERIC) in 1992. His research flies in the face of public school advocates who claim that children need to attend school to be properly socialized.
4 – You choose who will influence your child
Students who attend school for the majority of their waking hours are mainly influenced by their peers. Homeschooled students are mainly influenced by their parents. Who would you prefer having as the main influence on your child’s life?
5 – You choose whose worldview they will be taught
Some public school advocates feel that all religion has been removed from the classroom; however, this is not the case. Yes, the Christian religion has been removed from the classroom. However, it has been replaced by the religion of secular humanism. When your child attends school, they are taught subjects from the slant of whatever worldview their teacher or their curriculum portrays. Homeschool students are taught subjects from the slant of whatever worldview their parents believe. Whose worldview would you rather have your children learn from?
Seeing is believing. Some critics aren’t satisfied until your children are grown, gainfully employed, and married with children. Others will start to relax once they see your kids begin to develop into mature and confident people. The main thing to remember is that you and your spouse chose to homeschool for very important reasons. Write those reasons down. Think about those things every time someone gives you a hard time about your choice.
I honestly think that living out in the country has made it harder for my boys to socialize than being homeschooled has. But now that they’re able to drive, they have a circle of friends from church that they meet up with regularly to watch movies together, grab a burger, or just hang out and play games. They also get together with several guys from their basketball team and shoot hoops a few times a week. Whenever their school/work schedule allows, they communicate with their friends to figure out when they can hang out that week. These are good, quality young men who love the Lord and whose parents I know.
Homeschooling hasn’t crippled my sons’ ability to socialize with their peers. If anything, it has enhanced it because their flexible schedules give them a greater ability to make room for time with their friends.
Our children have been given to us to raise. We need to do what we feel is right as their parent and let go of any negative comments made by others. Also, we should try not to take these comments personally. Most of the people who make them are misguided but they actually do have good intentions.
Sometimes it isn’t easy; but, as you continue down the path and see the progress your children make, you will be glad you stuck to your convictions and homeschooled them. Your kids will be so much better off because of the time you willingly invested in their lives.
If you’d like to read even more research about homeschoolers and socialization, check out Susan McDowell’s book called But What About Socialization? Answering the Perpetual Home Schooling Question.
Question: What do you say when people ask you this question? If you have any tips you’d like to share please comment below.