One of the most common generalizations or concerns regarding homeschooled students relates to the question of socialization.For some reason it is commonly thought that homeschooled children suffer because they do not spend their days in classrooms with children of all the same age. Most experienced homeschooled families will claim the opposite, that because of all the additional time available to homeschooled children, and the fact that they are generally around children and adults of all ages, their socialization can be vastly superior to the average child.
No study I am aware of has ever shown homeschooled students to lack in true socialization skills. However, if a specific child is withheld from interaction with others because of a parent’s own lack of sociability or strict beliefs, it can cause problems for any child, homeschooled or not.
Unfortunately, this generalization that homeschooled children suffer from a lack of socialization is perhaps the most persistent myth that new homeschooling families encounter. Often this conflict will be present even within the homeschooled child’s extended family. It is hard for a homeschool opponent to argue with the generally excellent academic and behavioral aspects of homeschooled children. However it seems easier for some people to ignore the evidence and claims of homeschooling families and believe that homeschooled children are somewhat deprived socially because they don’t spend all their weekday hours in a typical American school. Contrary to this belief, homeschooling families often believe the public education system of grouping all students together simply because of their age is dated, and not what is best for learning and socialization.
For example, the typical 7th grade classroom may often have students performing from the 4th grade level to the high school level. In addition this classroom may be overcrowded and the teacher, competent or not, overwhelmed. In addition, the setup of our public elementary and middle schools forces the separation of children by age and not interest or ability. Children in 6th grade do not generally interact much with 5th or 7th grade students and certainly have little or no interaction at all with kindergarten or high school students.
My personal opinion is that in socialization, like so much in children’s lives, the role of the parent and family is a main determining factor. I have known a few homeschooled children that seem lacking in social skills just as I have known some “normally” schooled children with the same deficiencies. However, my personal experience leads me to believe the typical homeschooled child is more mature socially at any given age that the typical non-homeschooled child.
Some, (not all), of my children’s non-homeschooled friends often grumbled about kids in grades above or below their own being a pain. They also sometimes complained about their own and their friend’s younger and older siblings. These are issues that I have rarely seen in homeschooled children. I have been at homeschool meetings where a 15 year old boy will offer, (right in front of his friends), to take his baby brother off his Mother’s hands and take him to the bathroom to change his diaper so his Mother can continue to attend the meeting uninterrupted. No one present, adult or child, even gives this sort of thing a second thought. At these meetings and gatherings it is also common to see children of toddler to teen ages interacting positively in the same group.
The nuances of socialization can be taught to any child, homeschooled or not. For many reasons, however, homeschooled children seem to advance faster in their socialization and maturity than their non-homeschooled peers.
So, if you are considering homeschooling, be prepared to have the issue of socialization brought up by family and friends. At first you will need to explain that you have researched and read about the issue, talked to other homeschoolers, and are comfortable that it will not be a problem. After time observing the progress of your own children and spending time with other homeschooled children, you may find yourself responding as I now do, gently suggesting that anyone who believes the myth of socialization and homeschooling, do their own research and observation. Unless they have an agenda that prevents them from being impartial, they will usually come to see this myth as just an old, inaccurate stereotype that should have no place in the concerns of homeschooling families today.
Here are a few interesting links. A Google search will turn up enough additional reading for a week!
An essay written by a homeschooled student heading to college
Seattle Times Editorial
Essay about The Effects of Homeschooling on Academics and Socialization
2140 Words9 Pages
As one of the fastest growing trends in modern education and with more members than ever before, it is no wonder that homeschooling has received recent media coverage (Swartout-Corbeil; Saba and Gattis 1, National Household Education Surveys Program 1). However, many people are unsure about the reality of homeschooling (Saba and Gattis XI). Some of its critics show concerns over its claimed negative effects on a child’s ability to socialize with other children, while some were doubtful of its academic effectiveness (Saba and Gattis 5; Pitman). On the other hand, homeschoolers and their supporters say that it offers greater academic benefits than conventional schooling, and does not deprive a child socially either (Saba and Gattis 2;…show more content…
Even as public schooling became more widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, some African-Americans chose homeschooling due to the lack of quality schools until the bill allowing them to attend any local public school was enacted in 1954 (Saba and Gattis 6; Pitman).
Due to this increase of public schooling, laws requiring mandatory attendance to schools began emerging around 1840, with one of the most spirited advocates being Horace Mann. By about 1910, the traditional school composed of one room was supplanted by the now common large capacity schools, with the classes separated by grade (Saba and Gattis 6). This along with child labor laws restricting children from working in factories, as was common at the time, moved many children into these public schools (Pitman). This process generally continued until the late 1970s, when the modern homeschooling movement began (Saba and Gattis 6). In the time period around the 1960’s through 80’s, a movement of educational reform swept through the country, with homeschooling at the front (Pitman). One of the most profound advocates of this reform (and with it, homeschooling) was John Holt, who "believed that the most civilized way to educate a child was through home schooling" (Swartout-Corbeil). Many parents began questioning the effectiveness, among other reasons (like religious, moral beliefs), of public schooling and began teaching their children at home. Although this was not an issue at first,