For as long as I can remember I have been hearing whispers that homeshoolers are not socialized. Before we started homeschooling I actually listed that as one of the reasons that I didn’t want to homeschool because I wanted my kids to be great with other people and not a victim of homeschooling socialization issues. Yet now years later as I’m walking in the footsteps of a homeschooling family and spending time with homeschoolers and public schoolers alike, I am convinced that there are no ties between homeschooling and socialization issues, it’s a myth.
The thing is that you can’t tell that most children are homeschooled. Homeschool group park days are not spent in akwardness with our children stuffing their fingers as far as they can into their arm pits while gazing at the ground. From the second their feet hit the grass at the park they are off running and laughing together whether they’ve known each other for months or have just met. The only difference you can tell is that our kids are at the park in the middle of the day when other children are at school.
Many women when pregnant get asked “what is it?” so much that they have to fight off responding with “it’s a goat” instead of a boy or girl. It’s a question that is over asked and will drive any pregnant woman crazy. Personally I feel the same way when someone else, most of the time strangers, make a comment regarding the issue of homeschooling socialization when they find out we are homeschoolers. Too many times I’ve heard, “aren’t you worried about your kids not being socialized because you homeschool?”. Yet my children are right next to me smiling and being able to interact with them and all the other people we have encountered that day. They apparently are already socialized.
So how can I be so sure that my children as homeschoolers will be socialized?
1. They already are socialized. Children start learning socialization at birth and not just with their own age group. When you teach your child at 1 to say thank you because someone is holding the door open for them, you are teaching them to be socialized. When you teach them to introduce themselves at 2 and hold up two fingers to show how old they are, you are teaching socialization. It doesn’t just automatically start in Kindergarten.
2. Homeschoolers are active in our communities. My children go to activities within our Homeschool Co-op, they go to church, gymnastics, and swim team. We go downtown and walk around, visit parks, the zoo, go to the arboretum and constantly take our learning outside the house. Anytime we leave the house we come in contact with other humans and that’s when the learning keeps going towards how to interact with them. The best thing is that they are learning how to interact with everyone regardless of age, sex, walk of life, or economic status. They are not inside the walls of a school learning how to interact with the same children day after day. It’s real life interaction and it most adequately represents how they will live their life from when they start adulthood at 18 until the end of their life.
3. Homeschoolers (usually) know how to play with any and every child. We are used to big groups and big families with a huge range of ages. Older children are used to helping and entertaining the younger children in the family so playing with a young child is not uncool to them. It’s natural and the differences between ages doesn’t really matter. They just want to play and enjoy their childhood together, regardless of the age or gender of the person they are playing with.
Honestly sometimes I worry more about the socialization of public schoolers more so than homeschoolers. The time that I do spend with them I see a lot of clicks and playmates dependent on age and gender. Not always do I see that, my kids have some great friends that attend public school but I do see it from time to time. Somehow it doesn’t seem helpful to teach children how to get along with only kids their own age and gender when the school years are the only few years you spend that way.
Yes I am sure that socialization of a homeschooler has an issue before in some remote area where contact with others is hard to come by. However socialization issues with homeschoolers are not true just because they aren’t spending 8 hours with other children 5 days a week like everyone else. It’s a myth that continues to be dragged into the limelight and brought up in conversation after conversation.
I promise that homeschoolers don’t bite. My kids are weird but only because it’s in their DNA, not because of their schooling arrangements. But most importantly my kids need the same chance to thrive that every other child is given and continually asking in front of them if we’re worried about their socialization is not going to help them have the confidence to grab that chance and run with it.
It’s a myth so let’s add it to Snopes.com and be done with it once and for all.