One of the many objections or “cons” to homeschooling that I’ve heard over the years is that children who learn at home are not socializing. They ask,
“How will the child learn to socialize if he or she doesn’t go to school?”
There are few assumptions made in that question with which I disagree. Hopefully, I will be able to put forth my ideas cogently.
The first assumption is this:
Children in an all-day, structured environment with twenty-five other children of the same age produces socialization.
If a man wanted to learn how to be a plumber, how would he do that? Twenty-five other would-be plumbers sitting in a room together would not teach the plumber how to become one. He would need a teacher, someone more experienced, with knowledge, to teach him (preferably one-on-one).
This is how I feel about socialization.
I want my children to learn how to socialize by seeing an adult do it. (preferably one-on-one). And who better to teach them than a parent? I sure don’t want another awkward 9-year-old to teach my child how to socialize. He or she is learning it as well. Both of them are “apprentices”.
Not only that, I want my children to know how to socialize with people older and younger than themselves. After all, as an adult, I rarely (if ever) come into contact with only 37 year olds. The workforce, and society at large, is amazingly diverse, age-wise. On a daily basis, I may have to “socialize” with a 22 year old, a 4 year old, a 50 year old, and a 75 year old. All of these interactions require different (and sometimes nuanced) social navigation skills.
I have four daughters ranging between the ages of 2-10, and they socialize everyday with each other. The younger children learn how to look up to the older ones, and the older ones learn how to look after the younger ones. There’s a natural order to this, after all.
You don’t need a big group of people to learn how to interact with others. You just need a good teacher. Crying, fighting, jockeying for a better social position, and bullying is not the type of “socializing” I want my children to partake in or be a part of.
Another assumption made in that original question is this:
If my child doesn’t go to a school to learn then they are never around anyone else… ever.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, my children are not kept in a cage at home during school hours.
One of my daughters has five other people they see every day, and that is just in her immediate family. We go to church, have friends, participate in homeschooling activities, have extended families, go to community events, community festivals, etc… Socialization can occur outside of school, and frankly that is where it occurs the most. To be honest, we got into trouble if we socialized too much in school.
“Don’t talk!” or “Stop talking!” were common refrains while growing up. So, if they’re not to socialize during class, when does the socializing take place? Lunch? Three minutes between classes? Frankly, we weren’t allowed to “socialize” in study halls or free periods all that often anyway.
The whole point of socializing, at least in my opinion, is to learn how to become an adult and to interact confidently and competently with others of all ages. My children will not learn that by observing other children their age. They won’t even learn it by interacting with other children their age.
I went to public high school; I am not ignorant to what kind of “socialization” that took place there. So, if you have an argument against homeschooling, that’s fine, but please stop using “the lack of socialization" as one.
Homeschooling kids socialize, just not in a public school setting.
Children will only learn how to interact appropriately with others by watching “experienced” people do it. In this case, it would be their parents.
I could go on and on, and even write a book about it (though I would be probably be bored by it before I got to chapter two). However, I won't write it, and I must be satisfied with this blog post.
In the end, if my children can learn to get along with each other, they can learn to get along with anyone.
Scott Keen grew up in New York, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer.