Linda Difino, one of the incredible folks behind the online Homeschool Convention site, recently had a guest post on the Home Educating Family blog. (While you are there reading it, check out all of the other great posts!) Linda talks about the question that every home educator is bound to be asked at some point: “What about socialization?” She makes some great points and you may even get some ideas about how to respond to this question from her post!
The socialization thing is probably the most asked, and truly the most ridiculous, question when it comes to home education. I suppose it’s possible, but I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t live in caves never to venture out. Family, friends, errands, and even check-ups at the dentist offer up plenty of chances for kids to “socialize”. I and many other home educators would assert that it’s actually better for children to learn to interact with a wider variety of age groups than commonly found in a public school classroom. How many of us adults only interact with people the same age as us on a daily basis?
An acquaintance of my husband’s stopped by our house one day. Our kids were as friendly as they usually are when we have company. Now, this acquaintance also happened to be a home educating Dad. He mentioned to my husband the ease with which our kids interacted with him. They discussed it a bit, and my husband brought up the observation that most of the home educated kids he knew were quite comfortable talking with adults and kids of pretty much any age. The more I thought about it, the more that I realized the truth in it.
At one of the homeschool support group meetings at the library, one of the Moms pointed to the kids of widely varying ages and laughed, “Yeah, they definitely have trouble socializing!” All of us got a good chuckle out of that one because the kids were having a fabulous time. Interestingly, they didn’t pair off according to ages. Several of the boys were busy with the LEGOs and a number of the girls were over by the dollhouse. Some of the kids were coloring, others were picking out books, or just chatting with the other kids. Each group had a good range of ages represented.
In my own experience, spending the first six years of school in the public school system, socialization at school amounted to me desperately trying to fit in. I wasn’t popular, wasn’t particularly well-liked, and had very few friends. Contrast that with my middle and high school years spent being homeschooled. I had more friends, and a much better social life. Did I still struggle when I was with a group of people my own age? Sure. Truthfully, my introverted self still does! But the point is I had a more fulfilling “social life” as a home educated teenager, than I ever did as a public schooled kid.
So do I worry about my kids being “socialized” enough? Nope, socialization is the thing I worry about the least!