The “S” Word {Socialization}


The “S” word is a hot topic when it comes to homeschooling.Those who have no experience with homeschooling think it’s one of the most important considerations while those who do homeschool view it as one of the least important. Why do non-homeschoolers think it’s such a big deal while homeschooler’s don’t? I guess we’ve all seen one of those homeschooling familiesthat just seems socially awkward and we immediately chalk it up to homeschooling as the cause. The fact is, socially awkward children also attend public schools and guess what? They’re STILL socially awkward! Public school doesn’t magically cure them or “socialize” them. Go figure. Apparently, socialization doesn’t start at school, it starts at home.

For centuries children have been “socialized” by their family. The family teaches what behavior is and is not acceptable. Their interactions with other children and adults and teach them to respect, share, obey, etc. Even in public situations children are taught what behavior is acceptable. In Europe it is common for strangers to discipline your children. I have had my boys scolded for being too wild inside museums or climbing on walls they shouldn’t be climbing on. I think it’s good for them to be put in line by people other than their parents, but WE provided that experience, we didn’t need or expect the school to artificially create a social situation for us.

Contrary to popular belief, a child who attends public school doesn’t become socialized. Instead, they learn who the “cool” people are and who the “nerds or losers” are and they are taught to categorize people and treat them accordingly. It is very difficult to ascend the social ladder in school and unfortunately, this social order is primarily based on perceived materialistic wealth. The child who is constantly harassed, belittled and bullied at school is not going to have much of an educational experience.

I always find it interesting that when my children attend gatherings with primarily public school kids, it is my kids (the “unsocialized” homeschooled kids) who are the outgoing ones, walking up and introducing themselves and asking others to play with them. I have seen my boys make friends with people in different countries where they didn’t speak a common word, yet they were able to play contentedly together for hours. I love that my kids don’t have a social frame of reference with which to judge other kids by. I love that they see people simply as friends regardless of what they are wearing, what color they are, what language they speak, or what socioeconomic background they come from. I love that they have not been taught to treat people differently because of circumstances beyond their control. I have had mothers come to me with tears in their eyes and thank me for my son’s kindness to their son who was used to being rejected by his peers.

I do think it is important for kids to have friends aside from their siblings. My kids make friends through church, through sports activities, homeschool groups, neighbors, and just by going to the park or museums. Because we move often, my son has friends around the world that he writes letters or emails to. We also skype regularly with our friends from Russia and occasionally with friends from China.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what others have to say about the “S” word…

Socialization: Homeschoolers ARE in the Real World