Are you worried about homeschooling and socialization?
Do you know people who are still concerned that homeschooled children aren’t well socialized? Who believe that homeschoolers don’t know how to get along with others, have friends, and deal with real life? Or maybe you feel strongly about it, but your husband does not support homeschooling.
I’m here to tell you that it just isn’t true that homeschooled children aren’t well socialized! In fact, the truth is that many homeschooled students are extremely well socialized. (I hate the term socialized! But because that’s the term commonly used to refer to how well children and teens do in social situations, I’ll use it here.)
Over my 20+ years of homeschooling, I’ve come in contact (both in real life and online) with many homeschooling parents whose relatives and friends are concerned that their homeschooled children aren’t properly socialized. They worry that these students won’t know how to get along with other children. That they’ll be awkward teenagers. (Imagine that!!) That they won’t be able to go to college and get married and have jobs in the “real world.” But it’s just not true.
Most homeschoolers are extremely well socialized!
The strange thing is that the majority of homeschooled students are extremely well socialized! In fact, I know more children who go to public or private schools who are socially awkward, extremely shy, don’t have many friends, and aren’t able to carry on a conversation with other students (much less with adults) than homeschooled students who fit this description. Many homeschooled children, in fact, are socialized in ways that are much more beneficial to them (both now and in the future) than students who are socialized by public or even private schools. In fact, part of the reason many people homeschool is to protect our children from the world’s standards, and that can be a very good thing!
Social awkwardness is not necessarily dependent upon whether a child goes to public school or is homeschooled.
Yes, there are some homeschooled students who are socially awkward and shy. However, there are also some public and private school students who fit the same description. In other words, people generally blame the awkwardness or shyness of homeschooled students on the fact that a particular student is homeschooled, yet when students go to public or private schools, they don’t blame those students’ social awkwardness on the fact that those students attend public or private school.
Homeschoolers are generally very good at socializing with people of all ages.
After having met and gotten to know homeschooling families all across the United States and in my local area, it is my experience that the majority of homeschooled students are able to get along with, talk with, and otherwise interact with people of all ages–not just those in their own peer group.
Think about it this way: Most students who go to public or private schools interact with students of the same age/grade level all day. This isn’t the case with homeschooled students. When we homeschoolers get together for field trips, co-op classes, sports, play days, book clubs, and so on, we usually bring all of our children with us. And of course we parents are in attendance too. This means our children are exposed to babies, toddlers, young children, older children, tweens, teens, parents, and grandparents on a regular basis.
It’s not unusual to see children of all ages chatting and playing with other children who are older or younger than themselves. They don’t think they can only be friends with other children who are the same age and grade level. One year at a family reunion, I actually heard a pre-teen girl complain repeatedly that she didn’t have anyone to play with that day. I looked around and saw ten or twelve other children there, so I pointed out that fact. She quickly let me know that she couldn’t play with those children because none of them were in fifth grade like her. But many homeschoolers, on the other hand, could comparatively be called socialization geniuses!
We’re preparing our homeschoolers for real life!
It’s not unusual to see tweens and teens helping to look after the toddlers and young children when we have a get-together. And it’s also quite common to see children and teens talking with parents or grandparents–their own and others’ too! Why is this? Because this is real life!
When our students graduate from our homeschools and go to college or get jobs, they won’t go to college or to work with only other people of the same age! They’ll be expected to be able to work with people of all ages. They’ll be expected to get along with and communicate with others of different ages.
In fact, I have to share some examples from my own family with you. My youngest child (who has been homeschooled since the beginning) is now 18 years old. From the time she was about 12 until she was 17, she served as an assistant to an art teacher in classes for children from kindergarten through about third grade. My daughter is a bit of an introvert, but she loves art and she loves children, and the combination of the two made her look forward to helping in those art classes for quite a few years! In fact, the art teacher was sad to see her go when she started her first “real” job and was no longer available to help teach the art classes.
And yes, that’s right. My poor unsocialized homeschooler started working at her first real job. (Haha!) She now works a couple of days a week at a locally-owned health food store. Because it’s a small store, she often has to work alone. She’s had to learn about many products, their uses, and where they’re found in the store. She has to talk with customers to find out what they need and to show them where to find products. She helps customers of all ages from teenagers to adults to elderly people, and she handles all of them very well.
She also works in the sound booth at our church with a couple of other teenagers, babysits on a regular basis, and fills in for the youth Sunday school teacher. And the truth is, being homeschooled is what allows her to do many of these things! Homeschooling allows her to build time into her schedule to handle these responsibilities.
It makes me proud that she’s able to get along with children and adults of all ages. It makes me happy that she enjoys the company of many other people–not just those of her own age/grade. And it’s fantastic that she has so many opportunities to build social skills in so many real-life situations. This should be the goal for all children–whether they homeschool or not!
Our Goal As Homeschool Parents:
What I really want you to take away from this article is that, even though the choice to homeschool sometimes leads people to (mistakenly!) worry that our children won’t be well socialized, the truth is that they usually are. They are being prepared for real life in a world with people of all ages. And as parents, that’s what we’re here to do–prepare our children to live their lives as adults. So next time a well-meaning friend or relative expresses concern that your children aren’t well socialized or you find yourself being criticized for homeschooling, remind them that you’re preparing them for real life. And you’re doing a great job of it!
P.S. – If you’d like to see some research-based data about homeschooling, please take a look at our article Updated Homeschool Research by NHERI. You’ll be happy to find that there is research-based information supporting the effectiveness of homeschooling and the real-life success of adults who were homeschooled.