Have you ever been out with your kids doing something really cool like doing volunteer work or with a group of friends at the movies, and someone starts asking you questions about homeschooling? You know they are just curious, so you are chatting right along looking over every once in awhile and noting that your awesome son just opened the door for a little old lady and your daughter is helping a young mother with her toddler when you get "the question". You know the one...."but what about socialization?" Oh my gosh!!!! Will it EVER end!???? Do these people even know what they are saying?
Hmmmm....There are lots of directions I could go with this. I could talk about the teen pregnancy rate, high school illiteracy rate, drug use, school violence, suicide, high school dropout rate, rude manners, alcohol abuse, and lots of other factors that I don't particularly want my children to "learn to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation as well as group pressure". No thank you!
I don't REALLY think this is what people are referring to. I think most of them are generally concerned about the children's "social life". They have this concept, or rather misconception, that homeschoolers are hermits who never see the light of day. They have the "school mind set" and think that school is the only place that children could possibly make friends. Children are "supposed" to go to school!
You may be one of those people who is concerned about the socialization issue! Most everyone knows or has met someone who homeschools. You may know several homeschoolers, but there is that one family that just sticks out in your mind that is just totally against the "norm" in your mind. Okay, okay...one time a long time ago you met some really weird homeschoolers. Perhaps you met some homeschoolers that all dressed alike in matching jumper outfits and all had the same haircuts. Maybe you met some homeschoolers that had 15 kids. You were in town and saw some homeschoolers who were talking about home birth and breast feeding, and you just don't believe in doing that in public (even though it is the healthiest thing you could possibly do for your child). Your next-door neighbor homeschools, and they have chickens, bake bread, have a garden, and go around bare footed all the time (which pretty much describes my family, except the chicken part, which I am working on). Homeschoolers are just.... Well, yes they are! Yep, you got it... That's exactly what homeschoolers are like and much more. Can you pick a homeschooler out of a crowd? Probably not (unless you were noticing their nice manners and behavior which is commented on quite often). Homeschoolers by nature are really smart, really dumb, fat, skinny, black, white, rich, poor, Christian, Jewish, tall, short, healthy, sick, urban, suburban, drive mini vans, drive Hummers, very strict, not strict at all, blonde, brunette, and everything in between. Homeschoolers are just people. People with one thing in common. They have chosen to take on the responsibility and joy of home educating their children. They have decided to live life spending their time with their children. They are a very diverse and interesting crowd.
One thing to stop and consider is the "socialization" that children are getting in the public school setting. Most children in the public school setting get straight out of bed, get ready for school and arrive at school between 7:00 - 7:45 a.m., still groggy and grouchy, and get home sometime between 3:30 p.m. (for the lucky ones) and 6:00 p.m. They spend all day long with other children who are basically the same age, same socioeconomic status, and sometimes even divided into the same gender. They have to spend their whole day around people they may or may not like and may or may not have any common interests with, all without any consideration for their personal choice. Their day is full of "hurry up" and "wait", having to sit in assigned seats, and being quiet even when they have something to say. They have to learn what (even if it is something your family does not agree with), when (even if they are not ready), and how they are told (even if it is not the optimal learning style for the individual). They can't even go to the bathroom at their own leisure. They are in a volatile atmosphere where it is either be part of the crowd, be left out, or even worse - get singled out of the crowd. When the children finally get home from school, half of them have an after-school activity such as soccer and are completely worn out, do their homework, shower, eat, and go to bed. They are running so fast and furious that they don't have time to relax. Where is their social time? Let alone time to spend with their family!
On the social level, homeschoolers can choose to be or not to be around who they choose. Homeschoolers are able to have a real-world experience by being around a diverse group of people of all ages, socioeconomic levels, education levels, etc. throughout their day by choice. Do homeschoolers hide in the house all the time and never see other people? Puhlease! Homeschoolers have so many social outlets at their fingertips that sometimes it is hard to decide what activity to participate in. There are tons of field trips, groups activities, park days, support groups, classes, etc. that are available to homeschoolers. Are all homeschoolers very social? Why no! Are some homeschoolers anti social? Of course! There are very social and anti-social homeschoolers just like there are very social and anti-social public schoolers.
On the academic playing field, homeschoolers are able to learn at their own pace in their own way having the freedom to choose resources that are suited to their way of learning. For instance, if a curriculum is not working for a homeschooler, they are free to find something that appeals and works for them. If a homeschooler is working at a fast pace, they can move on to the next subject when they are ready or conversely repeat a subject if they did not "get it". Homeschoolers are free to school year round or follow a more traditional schedule which opens up all sorts of possibilities. Homeschooling is a completely different way of life where you are able to LIVE your life. You can structure your life and schedule around your family instead of the other way around.
Socialization? Am I worried about socialization? Why, yes I am... That's why we homeschool!
written by Deb Spradlin