Socializing Homeschoolers

“At some point in life you do have to be around people. You have to work with them, get along with them and know how to socialize.”

Well, okay…. (sigh)….

We do not homeschool to keep our kids from socializing. We do it for educational purposes. We do it for our family. And actually, we do it so we CAN do socializing activities while still being a family the way we want to be a family. I never was one to like the rushing moments, from school to sports to bed, without quality time, without space and time to grow together. In fact, I dreaded it. Homeschooling has given us back the ability to enjoy our extracurriculars because it isn’t taking away from our quality time together. (And for those traditional schooling mamas that can do both, I admire you.) What do I mean by “socialization”? Because I have some ideas about it you may not have heard before.
My kids list of socialization goes something like this: Ballet. Music class three times a month. Some seasons t-ball or Basketball. Sometimes Soccer or Gymnastics. Sunday School. Cub Scouts. Small group. Playdates. Friends. Slumber Parties. Birthday Parties. Siblings. Park playing. Boy Scouts.

First of all, what does socialization mean? Websters says it is “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” Alrighty, let’s start there.
Some things psychologist and sociologist believe develop healthy socialization skills: family, commonality, agreements in values, religion, language, culture, economic systems, peer groups, and legal systems.

There are many definitions of socialization online and not one says you need to be with peers of your own age in order to learn the ‘norms, values, behavior and social skills’ that are appropriate. They never say that putting 20 people of the same AGE together in a room will teach you ‘socialization’, only that you need peer interaction. I don’t know about you, but my peers are all different ages. I have friends who are many years older than me and many years younger…and this is how God meant it to be (read Titus if you wonder what I mean). This is healthy. You learn from those older than you, you teach those younger than you. There is no age-level to adult relationships and certainly not work relationships (you likely will have a boss younger than you at some point in your life). In fact, I believe many of us choose our peers, our friends, from a varying degree of preferences. usually those preferences are based on those who are morally like us, think like us, like the same things as us and/or value the same things we do. Which is where I think homeschoolers have the advantage….

And it is where traditional classrooms and homelearning classrooms come to their biggest crossroads. I don’t believe the difference is in education because if your child is in school or at home, there are laws and regulations in every state that require they are taught the same amount of days and hours regardless of where they do their learning. It is also possible to buy the exact same curriculm from the same publisher the children are using in traditional school. Or you can buy a curriculm thats created by someone else- but it still must be accredited. You even can sign your kids up to be taught by a virtual classroom, led by the state you live in. You can sign up for virtual classrooms from a varity of creators that teach math, english, history, science, reading, writing and more. Your kids can even learn online with a teacher- face to face- using a computer camera. Its honestly incredible the multiple ways your child can be schooled at home. Because of all this, I think first grade is first grade, educationally, whether your desk is at home or in a school building. (This is all based on the assumption that the homeschooling parents are truly teaching. I know there are some bad stories out there and I’m not including those in this opinion.)

Homeschool families have a great choice about who their kids are socialized by. They are able to take these same things: religion, morals, thought, commonality, values, and our likes and dislikes, and base our relationships around this for our kids. If your child loves science, he can go to science clubs and camps. He can maintain friendships with other children who do these same things. If your child loves history, chase historical experiences.

This is one of those things I don’t understand as an arguement against homeschooling. “I don’t agree with homeschooling because then the kids aren’t able to socialize” isn’t true anymore. And so it’s become an argument that simply no longer makes sense.

Well, why do you send your kids to school? To socialize? Or to be educated? If your main goal is socialization, then why argue against homeschooling because ‘parents aren’t capable’ and if your main goal is education, then why argue against homeschooling because ‘homeschooled kids don’t get enough socialization’….you can’t have it both ways, folks. You chose to send your children to traditional school for both reasons? Great.

How about we just support each other and stop controlling how others raise their kids? Remember the lesson YOU learned in school about treating others the way you’d like to be treated (and maybe also keep your hands -and thoughts on how to parent other peoples kids- to yourself ;)).

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