HS Question #3: What about Socialization?


Continuing my series of articles, “A Question of Homeschooling.”   Last week I answered the question, “Is homeschooling legal?”  This week I will answer the most common question homeschoolers are asked, What about socialization? There are really two reasons people ask this question.  One is because they are truly seeking to understand how homeschoolers get along not seeing the same group of children each day.  The other is because they are under the false impression that homeschoolers lock their children in a closet until they graduate and by then, they are so weird, lonely and devoid of social skills, they are incapable of getting along in the "real world." First, I want to share some of the truths of socialization and then I'll get into how to answer.   This is actually a very common question and concern for most people because the initial image of a homeschooler (I had this image too before I began homeschooling!) depicts a lonely child who is only with his mother and whatever siblings he happens to have all day long. Actually, most homeschooled children are involved in more extra curricular activities than the average public schooled child simply because their time is more flexible.  While public school children are with their same age peers all day, they may only interact with them at recess, during PE or school sports, or after school when all their homework is done.   Some public school children are involved in a few after school activities such as gymnastics or piano.  The average homeschooled student is involved in several outside activities such as 4H, church activities, community events as well as traditional sports events and music lessons.  The fact that homeschooled children do not have a fixed schedule of 8am to 3pm classes, homeschooled parents often enjoy lower fees for these classes because places like gymnastics studios are hard pressed to find students that will be able to come to a class at 11am or 1pm on a school day.  Rather than leaving their studio vacant, they open it up to homeschoolers at a significant discount! This past semester, my son was involved in golf, fencing, chess club, Young Marines, Track, PE Day, Theater, gymnastics, and children's choir.  Not all these activities were at the same time, but he usually has about 4-5 outside activities going each week.  I think I read where most public schooled children are only involved in about 2-3 outside activities. Another reason socialization isn't much of an issue for homeschooled students is because, while most public schooled children only learn to interact with same age peers, most homeschooled students are involved in family situations with many age groups including adults.  They learn to relate to all age groups quite well and have their parents close at hand when and if they need discipline for dealing with someone inappropriately.  Additionally, most homeschoolers are able to learn social skills from adults who are much more adept at them than are their same age peers who have no more experience than they. One final reason socialization is not much of an issue for homeschoolers is that there is much less of an opportunity for students to learn bad social behavior from other students due to the fact that their parent is usually at arms length at all times.  In a public school setting there is one teacher per several students.  During social times like recess, there may be one teacher overseeing many children on the playground.  That one teacher cannot be expected to view what every child is doing enough to discipline social issues.  In some cases, these issues have lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and even fights. When you are talking with folks who truly desire to understand how homeschoolers make friends and get along socially, you may not have time to get into all these details and it may sound more like justification to do so.  I usually just say that I had been concerned about that issue as well before I began homeschooling, but that I found that we have so many opportunities to get the kids involved socially that I am often running ragged and we sometimes are relieved and excited to have a day when we DON'T have to go anywhere.  Then, if you are talking to someone who is interested in homeschooling, but has this question, you can go into more detail with them if they ask for it and have more time. If I am asked by someone who is anti-homeschool, I usually give the same answer initially.  If they follow up their question with a comment about how this is not good enough, I will usually tell them that my children have never been accused of being socially awkward and have actually received many complements about their manners and articulate way in which they relate to adults.  If they continue to badger me about the issue, I will usually say that they certainly have the right to their opinion, but they might consider looking up the statistics for how well homeschoolers do after graduation both in their careers and in their personal life. The truth is that socialization really isn't an issue even for only children.  My son has plenty to do and many friends. He easily converses and makes friends with people of all ages and has quite a full life as a homeschooler.  Studies show that most homeschoolers do very well after graduation both academically in college and in their personal lives.  Contrary to popular belief, most homeschoolers are not weird, nerdy, social misfits.  Most are well-adjusted contributing members of society.  In fact, studies show that homeschoolers students and graduates are more politically and socially active in the communities than are their public schooled counterparts. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula, including Say What You Mean Defending the Faith.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com and hosting her weekly podcast, Communication Comedy Network.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com Stay tuned next Monday for more in my article series, “A Question of Homeschooling” when I will share another answer to a typical question homeschoolers are asked. If you have a question you are frequently asked and would like me to include it in my blog series, please post a comment here or email me at jojo @ artofeloquence.com

5 comments


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  • Laurie Neumann

    This is a great post, JoJo. I got this question so many times when we homeschooled. I know it is tempting to get defensive, but if people are really trying to understand, it is worth the time to explain it to them.

    One of the things I really appreciated, as you mentioned, was that my kids were able to interact with people of all ages. I liked the fact that they were had interaction with adults as well as kids both older and younger than they were. It’s good for all-around socialization.


  • jojosblog

    That’s a good point, Cindy. Kids often make friends at church and other events away from school.


  • Cindy Phillips

    We had that same question. But most kids make their hang around friends from Scouts, sports, church. All activities away from school. It’s not an issue as far as I’m concerned.

    Even back when my best friend was someone with my same first name, but we attended the same school in half days in 7thgrade. I saw her name on a list and sought her out. 40 some years later we are still best friends


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