I get a lot of questions about socialization and my choice to homeschool. From friends and family to other homeschoolers. We all worry that our kids will not get socialized. We’ve all heard of the stereotype of the home schooled kid. They’re supposed to be these weird introverts. And I’m sure there is a reason that was once the case (and may still be in some areas), but most of the homeschool kids I’ve met are fairly well adjusted. Some behave even better than the kids we run into when we’re out and about.
Think About School
Do you know what I remember about school? Here’s just a short list of my childhood school year memories:
- Sitting a lot.
- Being told to be quiet.
- Either being ahead and bored or behind and not being able to get the help I needed/wanted.
- Very little time to play (except for maybe kindergarten).
- Other children’s parents getting mad about my parents giving me information appropriate to me at that age ( I did share it and maybe??? that was bad???)
- Lots of repetitive busy work.
- Work and test where you were required to know multiple ways when one that worked for me would have sufficed.
- Lack of variety in terms of teaching methods.
- And often being told that factual information my parents gave me was wrong….despite evidence to the contrary.
In addition schools vary from state to state, county to county, even from block to block. Take a look at Indy….our neighborhoods are not clearly defined. You can be walking and be in a good neighborhood only to find yourself in a bad one a block or two down and then back in another few blocks. The same is very true of our schools (which are nearly all poorly rated). And not all of us can afford a private school or tutors to supplement our children’s education.
Every school handles bullying differently as well. I can personally attest to this. We moved because of bullying and the approach at my second school was drastically different. They put a stop to it….while the first school enabled the child to continue his tyrannical rule against a few kids. From no tolerance schools who penalize children for defending themselves to schools who just say kids will be kids, bullying is a big problem in our school system.
In addition, depending on your city different politics get brought into the classroom…where they have no place. For example, I’m an avid LGBTQ+ supporter, but I can’t get behind teaching our children about transgender issues prior to say middle school or high school…and even then only if the parents are comfortable with it as well.
Which leads me to parental control over the child. When you send a kid to school you essentially lose control over what indoctrination, moral teaching, and socialization that child has. For one third of that kids day. That’s a big responsibility in my mind. One that, in the hands of the wrong person, could be a nightmare.
I’ll give you an extreme example. In second grade I had a teacher of the kids will be kids approach to bullying. She told me I just needed to toughen up. When I started to have fits over behaviors she ignored (hitting, throwing, awful name calling) instead of having a conversation, she choose to punish me for getting upset! Or making me write lines about how being bullied was no reason to cry or be upset! Again extreme example, but that kind of stuff still happens today.
And from what I see of most kids these days…the teachers aren’t given much power to do their job. I have a friend who was teaching secondary education (Math) in Tennessee . He had a problem kid who constantly upended class. After a point, the school refused to let him send the kid to the office or inschool detention despite disruptive behaviors. In fact, he was accused of harm to the child for stopping him from enacting violence on another child! While these things do not happen at these extremes everywhere, nearly every teacher I know admits that there is a defecit of power in controlling the classroom behaviors of their students.
But, Kids Need Kids Right?
Everyone seems to think that the only way to socialize children is with kids…but that’s not true. There are many ways to socialize children. While I want to make sure my child has time to play with her peers, I also have to worry about the behaviors of those peers.
In addition, socialization is far more than just hanging out with your peers. Think to after you graduated high school. How much of your social interaction after that was solely with your peers? Mine already wasn’t mostly with my peers. I had friends who had just started high school my senior year. In college I had friends from social groups outside the school who were at least two decades older than me. Or at work. How often do you interact solely with people your age? You don’t.
And lets talk about the behaviors of those kids at school. It’s like the sterile environment where we force kids to act against their nature. There is something to be said for getting a kid to sit still and conditioning them to a work ethic…but I don’t feel that school did that for me. Morality and teachings from my parents were far beneficial to me in reaching those ends.
I cannot tell you how many times we’ve been out and about and seen that child whose parents simply do not make them mind. It’s not all of them by any means, but you know that kid. The kid who can get away with throwing a fit in a walmart or the kid who screams bloody murder in the McDonald’s play place…
I don’t want my kid to learn that. Or act like that. And they learn that through interactions with children who haven’t been raised that way. The Valkyrie has a few friends from various activities who fit this bill. It isn’t that they are bad kids, but I no longer leave her at their house because I don’t want to have to correct the behaviors later. Its far more effective if you can correct them in the moment.
And its not like I watch her like a hawk. One or both of them bring a behavioral issue to me and they know that no matter how frustrated they may be afterwards, I tend towards fairness no matter who has done what. There is also a respect that grows from that fairness (with most of the kiddos I’m describing).
Socialization Happens Everywhere
The truth is that socialization happens everywhere. And it happens far more effectively with diversity of thought, age, and experience. We spend time with Pagans and Christians. We are in cub scouts and go to at least one or two other children based social activities.
Freya talks with adults at my work. She and I talk on the way there and the way home. We talk about whatever she wants to most of the time unless I have something specific to talk to her about. She’s only five and while our conversations are far from Ivy Leauge we still learn from each other.
And she gets socialized every time we go out. Or when she goes with me to a function. She can see and enact social norms. She has her points she struggles with but she is getting socialized. The biggest problem she has right now is that she doesn’t understand why kids are sometimes mean. She just doesn’t. And if I’m being entirely honest, neither did I as a child, and I went to public school. And of course, she always wants to spend more time with her peers, but its okay if she gets socialization from other spectrums as well as far as I’m concerned. That is not to mention the poor quality of socialization I saw in the public school in the 90s (me), the early 2000s (my cousin) and the stories I hear today.
School Hasn’t Always Looked Like This
So I have been researching schooling for a while now. It started with these old school house books my father has from the late 1800s. He gave them to me when we started home school. Which got me looking into school facts. And many of them support homeschooling.
For example, did you know that in 1844 45% of all children were schooled at home by their parents or tutors. Not all states had free public schools before 1870.
If we look at the history of schooling in this country alone…we were founded in the 1776. We had homeschooling and school options in some areas for 142 years before schooling became compulsory through elementary in 1918. Those schools By 1977 parents began to question that logic due to a variety of problems. And by 1993 homeschooling was legal again in all 50 states. With a growth rate of 7% per year.
And the growth rate of homeschooling due to these problems are huge. And they are not just social, educational, or political. Public schools are just a mess. With funding taken away from the arts while money is poured into sports above even actual academic education in some schools. It’s my personal opinion that schools should not get to put more money into football or basketball, nor should the fine arts be diminished when some of the money divested into sports (which are equally important for different reasons) could be more evenly distributed into the other areas.
In terms of results, on average, home schooled kids test in the 87th percentile. That means that they score better than 87 percent of the students tested.
My Final Thoughts
I’m not saying public school is bad. I also understand that some people have no choice. I do not say this to make anyone feel bad. But I refuse to continue to listen to people who tell me that my kid cannot survive without the low quality socialization children receive in school
I think the benefits outweigh the risks. Is she going to be a little different than her peers? Maybe. It’s possible, but that could be the case even if she went to school. That was my perception and experience in school. I was always the weird kid just because my beliefs and moral center was different. That didn’t make me bad or wrong. Heck it didn’t even mean, in many cases, that I went against common social norms. It just meant that I was different…something I cherish now.
Ultimately, I have to boil down the benefits of homeschool socialization to the following (courtesy of Time4Learning):
- Shorter school days allow more time to work on hobbies
- No negative peer influences
- No bullying
- Many opportunities to interact with people of all ages and situations
- More real-world experiences for practicing social skills
- Develop into confident adults with a healthy self-esteem
And yes, it does take more effort in many ways, but I’m willing to do that. I will always worry that my kid doesn’t get enough time with other kiddos…but then I hear that kid screaming at the McDonalds or throwing a fit in the Walmart and as horrible as it is….I know that isn’t going to be my kid.
Just find a co-op or join some extra cirriculars. It doesn’t have to cost much. You can even volunteer somewhere or get social interaction at the Y (you may qualify for a discounted membership). There are plenty of free opportunities out there if you just look online. Especially if you live in a larger city.by