Thursday, January 21, 2010

But What About Socialization?

A lot of  families who are homeschooling have had this question asked of them more than once. "But what about socialization?" 

The main problem with this question...there are a number of different answers. What does the person really mean? Do they think you are holed up at home all day every day and your children never see anyone at all but you, your hubby, and their siblings? Do they think your child can't talk to anyone because they've never had the opportunity? Do they pull out the "well, my child is such a little social butterfly that there is just no way he could stay home all day. He'd be so bored! He needs interactions with other kids to be happy" question? The hardest part is figuring out what the person asking the question really means by "socialization."

So, let's define what "socialization" really is - not what most people think when they hear that word.

Socialization or socialize: a verb 1 : to make socialespecially : to fit or train for a social environment

This cartoon really says it all for me. This is what I do not want for my children and yet it is the norm with most public school situations.

Let me share one reason we chose to homeschool. I was pregnant with N8 and B13 was about four years old at the time. He had been attending a developmental preschool for speech delays and sensory issues. It was during my pregnancy with N8 that I decided it was time to stay home to raise my children. In order to do that, my hubby & I sold our home - the first one we had ever bought - so that we could live just on his income. Then it slowly hit me. B13 was five. He was of public school age. I had just quit my job and sold my dream house so I could raise my children and I was thinking of sending him off to school where he would be spending five to six hours a day five days a week with his teacher having a major influence on what he would think and do. Suddenly it didn't make sense. 

I did not want that training to be done by his teacher. That was my job. That was why I had quit working in the public sector. I wanted to be the primary influence for my children. I wanted to model the correct behavior for them. I did not want them to be trained by anyone other than my hubby and me - especially during those crucial early years. And now even more so during these upcoming teen years. 

And you know, I have never once regretted making that choice. 

My boys are all well articulate and well spoken. They talk to anyone and everyone - no matter the age or gender. It doesn't matter to them. It doesn't register. No one has ever told them there was an issue with this so they don't see an issue. The best part - they all like spending time with my hubby and I. We are cultivating a relationship with them that we will always treasure. My boys are best friends even though some days it's hard to realize this with the normal sibling squabbling going on. It's not unsual for N7 and J6 to play together all day long and be good with it. My thirteen year old asks for hugs daily. My six year old still likes to cuddle with me on the couch while we read books. I'm getting to know my children at a level most people don't simply because I spend all my time with them - every day. 

Yes, they have friends outside the house. However, their friends range in age from one to two years younger than they are up to five years older. They have never been told they could only play with kids their own age. 

Think about that for a minute. We segregate our children in to "peer" groups in public school. They are only with children who are the same age. This lasts for 12-13 years. Then they go off to college or start working. Guess what? Now they are surrounded by people of various ages. Public school does not reflect real life - as many would have one believe.

For me, "socialization" isn't about what my children's peers can teach them. Quiet frankly, I don't want my children's peers to teach them. I want them to learn from a wide variety of people and situations. Homeschooling allows that for us in so many ways. 

"What about socialization" can be a huge stumbling block for many people. I would encourage you not to let it. If homeschooling is right for your family, than go for it. Trust me, the hardest part for us right now is the "home" part. We've been on the go far too often of late seeing people, going on play dates, and being active in all of our outside commitments. 

If you are interested in more responses to this question, then check out the TOS Facebook page. This question will be asked next week with all kinds of responses pouring in I'm sure.


  1. Socialization is not just about "being with people"'s about learning to interact with them. I firmly believe that most homeschool children are better socialized than their pub-school counterparts.

    I taught music to several homeschool kids. This was how their parents got a music curriculum in for them, since they couldn't do it on their own (God bless the homeschool that can also teach music!). These girls (I had 2 sets of sisters) were the best-behaved, most attentive kids I taught. They took their lessons to heart, put their all (and MORE) into it, and were all highly successful. They learned their instrument more quickly and put all the time and effort needed to master and excel in music. And they were LEADERS in their groups. Julia and Laura (sisters) were both the line leaders for their sections (this is fife and drum corps). Samantha and Cassandra also stepped up and became line leaders.

    What "unsocialized" child can put out the effort to lead? NOT ONE.

    You can socialize your child in many ways. Public school doesn't have to be one of them.

  2. Great thoughts. I've had a post on socialization in my drafts for a looong time. Maybe I'll dust it off and post it . . . one of these days! LOL Seriously though, I have a good friend who STILL gives me grief over this one. She says it's the "only thing" holding her back from homeschooling. Meanwhile, she just met with the principal at her son's school because he is being mercilessly bullied for being the new kid. *sigh* Yeah, that's socialization for you.

    Love the cartoon!


Oh thank goodness! I'm not here all alone. Thanks for leaving me a comment. It helps that I'm not always talking to myself. Right? Hello?