Homeschooling: On Socialization
When we first began our homeschooling journey, I heard the stories of trials from more seasoned moms. Either a stranger or family member questioning and challenging their decision to homeschool. I had believed the views of home education had progressed beyond those trials, until it recently happened to me.
Moving to a new community involves many changes. As we sought a new pediatrician, I admit I had my guard up. I never know what to expect when the subject of vaccinations come up, as our views don’t completely fall into the scheduled mainstream recommendations.
Along with thorough checkups, I was surprised by the questions I received from the doctor. How were they doing with school work? Were they academically progressing? Did they get outside at least once a day? At one point I fought the urge to ask the doctor if they asked the same questions of their public schooled patients. Instead, I offered vague but polite information on anything not medically related. Eventually, my evasive efforts were met with bluntness, “Really, it comes down to, what about socialization?”
Please don’t misunderstand. I do like the pediatrician. I even like blunt questions, when asked respectfully. I did offer assurance that the kids were properly socialized. With some questions of my own, I learned the doctor had little experience with homeschooling families.
So, what about socialization?!?
Socialization is defined as:
The adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture; “the socialization of children to the norms of their culture”
I’ve seen the culture, and I say “No thanks!”
I do teach my children social skills. Social skills are defined as:
The personal skills needed for successful social communication and interaction.
For my family, the picture of homeschooling is not shutting ourselves in our home and hiding from the rest of society. It’s quite the opposite as we strive to provide our children with a variety of social opportunities.
We are engaged in our community through church activities and community services. At various times we have attended, or been involved in co-operative classes, public library events, church clubs, sports lessons, and much more. We take every opportunity to go on field trips. We’ve been to multiple science centers, children’s museums, state parks, historical museums, community fairs and more; around the Northwest and into Canada.
In all of our outings, my kids have the opportunity to interact with individuals of a broad range of ages and backgrounds. They are not hesitant to engage in conversation with other children or adults.
An article by the Peabody Journal of Education cites,
The research indicates that homeschooling parents expect their children to respect and get along with people of diverse backgrounds, provide their children with a variety of social opportunities outside the family
In comparison to conventionally schooled children, it goes on to state,
Compared to children attending conventional schools, however, research suggest that they (homeschooled students) have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults.
The National Home Education Research Institute reports the homeschooling population is continuing to grow. Regarding social activities, they cite,
Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members.
As a home educator, I continually seek opportunities to help my children learn and grow. I not only consider their academic growth but also their social development. I expect them to respect others, and learn the skills necessary to get along relationally. Let’s face it, relationships can be hard and messy at times. I want my kids to learn how to be actively involved in society, as well as have the tools to face social challenges.
I pray my children grow into independent and productive members of society. I take seriously my responsibility to provide them with opportunities to practice and learn academically and socially.