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Why Homeschoolers Aren't Worried About Socialization
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If you've homeschooled for any length of time, there's a very good chance that you've been asked the socialization question. It's some form of "Aren't you worried about your kids being socialized?" When that question gets asked, I use it as a chance to gently educate the one asking on how we, as homeschoolers, could POSSIBLY still socialize. This question is asked by two types of people and for two different reasons. The first type of person is the one who pictures homeschoolers as hermits, and they don't know much at all about homeschooling. The second type is the potential homeschooler. They like the idea of homeschooling, but they have questions, and this is one of them because they're so accustomed to "school" being equated to "socialization" because their student has friends at the school. They don't know how to fill that particular void.

For potential homeschoolers, the first thing to do is change your perspective on what "socialization" actually means. Homeschoolers tend not to worry about our children being socialized because we know just how much "socialization" our children are actually getting. We know that "socialization" isn't supposed to be why kids go to school. We know that "socialization" isn't spending 8 hours a day in a classroom with peers, monitored by adults. We know that true socialization is about our children learning to interact with people of all ages, caring about and conversing with people much older than them, children much younger than them, and everyone in between because society is made up of all ages, not just their peers. It's teaching them to be contributing members of the community, where they learn to work with others and put others before themselves.

Because we homeschool, our children tend to have MORE time for real socialization, not less! When we do group family field trips or park days, it's a common sight for kids of all ages to play games together. The littlest kids know that the older kids will include them, assist them, and treat them respectfully. When my son was three years old, he got a Thomas the Train book at a book swap. He was so excited and wanted to share this excitement with someone, so he walked up to a teenage boy (one he didn't even know) and showed him the book. That boy knelt next to him and had a five-minute conversation about trains, books, and my son's new boots. The homeschool students who volunteer at various church events are always pleasant, helpful, and able to converse with the adults on a wide variety of topics. (I'm not saying that there aren't public or Christian school students who can also do these things, but from what I've seen through the years, these behaviors are standard for homeschooled students, not the exception.) THIS is what I want from socializing my students.

Another difference in homeschool socialization is that because we do things as families, we tend to know each other's families. My kids aren't coming home telling me about classmates I've never met or asking to do things with families I don't know anything about. I know their friends. I know their friends' parents and siblings. Their friends' parents are usually also my friends. Their friends aren't based on who they sit near or who they have a class with. Their friends are people we have sought out and built relationships with and continue to do life alongside one another. This helps them learn conflict resolution and how to get along with others since that type of friendship isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Because we homeschool, socializing opportunities do not just fall into our laps. We do have to search them out and set them up. We do have to be involved in making these things happen and seeing them through. But that was understood when we chose to homeschool. And it was one of the reasons why many choose it – they want to be involved in how and with whom their children socialize. As a potential homeschooler, if socialization is your concern, I'd suggest looking around for homeschoolers in your area. Find a co-op or even just a group of homeschoolers and get together for things. Start small. Build your community. You don't need to use the same curriculum or even have the same educational philosophy to go on field trips or do park days. As you build that community, you'll start finding more opportunities available for you as a homeschooler. We are involved in a homeschool dance class, a homeschool choir, and a homeschool volleyball league. It's awesome!

Meet the Author

Abigail Knott - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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