Socialization. A notion that drives any homeschooling parent crazy. What is meaningful socialization anyway? And why have we grown to accept that ‘normal’ socialization takes place in a classroom – where one is surrounded by people the same age all day long and where very little natural interacting is actually taking place; a space where bullying, teasing, physical and emotional abuse continues to be on the rise.
Socialization can be defined simply as ones ability to function successfully within a group and as part of the family. Consideration, politeness, patience – are all first imitated and learned at home from parents – not at schools. It’s not until our children go to school that we actually see the results of our parenting. With this in mind, it is easy to argue that homeschooling then, is the very best choice for positively socializing our children.
Homeschoolers themselves are well aware of the wonderful social benefits their lifestyle brings, but the rest of society seems to need some convincing. Homeschooled kids have the advantage of taking part in an array of opportunities on a regular basis, both in and out of the home, all hours of the day. They are at friend’s houses playing, taking in cultural and community events and festivals, volunteering, going on trips to museums, zoos, and other fascinating places. But the question remains, “What are you doing for socialization?”
John Holt, one of the world’s leading advocates for homeschooling once said, “If I could give just one reason why children should not go to public schools, it would be the socialization they receive there.” As adults, we can sit and reminisce about the ‘good ol days’ and overlook the rest. The popularity games. Unfair teachers. Lonely lunch hours. Fear. While certainly not every student experiences these things over their lifetime, there is a world full of people who certainly have.
Having strong attachments and bonds to family is important, but for most families, between the hours spent in school, at extracurricular activities, doing homework, going to work and doing housework, there is little time left over to spend quality time together. Homeschooling parents actually believe this is damaging to the child and the family as a whole and work hard to change it.
Poor lonely homeschoolers – stuck at home all day, alone and bored. This may be a common myth of homeschoolers, but is simply not true. Homeschoolers are actually able to socialize with people of all ages – not just their peers. They grow up without the pressures of school and are well adjusted and prepared for the world. And if you ask most families why they homeschool, you will hear that the socialization opportunities are one of the main reasons. Go figure?
If you’re considering homeschooling, be sure to check out your community for the following – they can all be a great support network for you:
Homeschool support groups
With the growing number of homeschoolers worldwide, most places have some sort of support network in place and offer opportunities for day trips, field trips and more.
Most libraries and community recreation centres offer a variety of daytime classes for homeschooled kids.
Summer camps can be great place to meet a variety of people and tap into your child’s individual interests and hobbies.
Many recreation centres recognize the growing number of homeschoolers and now offer special daytime classes especially for homeschoolers.
Homeschooling may not be for everyone, for a number of reasons, but whatever you do – please don’t make it about socialization.