Friday, October 5, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 11): Are homeschoolers socialized?

Between a friend unexpectedly flying into town and Peter not falling asleep until 10:45, last night's post didn't happen. So instead you get it tonight, in just seven quick takes! Woah!

I know of a boy who is absolutely miserable in school, whose teacher is (by all reports) spiteful and deceitful. There is only one sixth grade class, so he can't request a different teacher in the school. It was suggested that his parents consider homeschooling for a year or two. His grandmother, who was telling us about him, responded, "Well, they could, but he needs to be socialized." I think I managed not to visibly cringe.

First, from a mainstream perspective: although many people believe traditional school is important for good socialization, most of them picture elementary and high school. I don't know anyone (although I'm sure they're out there) who thinks that middle school is full of positive social opportunities that just can't be missed. Middle school is nearly synonymous with cliques, bullies, and insecure adolescents. How much would this boy really miss by being out of that type of socialization for a year or two?
There is also research showing that people homeschooled as children are engaged in their communities, successful in their jobs, happy, and fulfil their civic duties. In other words, by adult measures of socialization, homeschoolers are doing quite well.
A counter-criticism points to the false, overly structured social setting provided in traditional schools. Children are largely confined to interacting with same-age peers with very limited times to freely socialize. (That's why you get in trouble for passing notes or talking during class.) In most workplaces, employees can choose when to schedule meetings, when to take a break, and talk with people both older and younger than themselves.

Children who are homeschooled have many opportunities to socialize with their peers from traditional schools. Scouts, church activities, community theater or art classes, music lessons, summer sports, town rec programs all provide ample opportunities to have non-homeschooled friends. Also, since they have more freedom during school hours, homeschooled children have time to interact with adults in their community and explore different walks of life.

Finally, for your reading pleasure, one homeschooling mom's explanation of why her kids will never be socialized. They're just too busy.


  1. We're in our 7th year of homeschooling and I had to comment to totally agree with your assessment of middle school. Our oldest went to catholic school all the way through, and we started homeschooling our next two in 5th grade and 2nd grade respectively. Middle school was HORRIBLE for our daughter, and had I known better, I should have homeschooled her. Thankfully, I made the decision for our next two boys and I can't agree more. Best decision ever. Our oldest son went back to school for high school and is thriving. Our next will follow next year, and then two more when they are old enough. And they have PLENTY of friends, do lots of sports and other activities, and are "socialized" just fine. The biggest difference, as you said, is that they know how to interact with kids of ALL ages, not just their grade-level peers.

    1. Thanks for chiming in with the voice of experience!

  2. love daughter is four and i am really trying to convince my husband that homeschooling is the way to go.

  3. My mom told me about your QT link on socialization.

    Me too Nikki, however my husband also doesn't share my faith, so it's a bit of an uphill battle. He doesn't want to talk about it and as far as he's concerned it's decided. God has called me to homeschool our kids but my husband is very against it, primarily for the socialization, although he doesn't use that word. He wants them to be with the other kids... Oh well, it's all God's idea, so He will make sure it happens anyway:)

    1. You could ask him what he thinks your kids would gain from being "with" the other kids. Presumably he doesn't just mean to be near them, so what type of social interaction is he looking for? You could then try to find other ways to meet those needs. You might also contact a local homeschool organization and talk with other families, both about how they got both parents on board and to meet their kids.