Those who are against homeschooling use the most touted reason against it as the lack of socialization opportunities. Public school students get to learn important social skills while in school but homeschoolers will be anti social messes while being hidden in their homes surrounded by piles of books. For those considering homeschool, these doom and gloom predictions on how your child will turn out if not sent to public school can be frightening. But, for those who have been homeschooling for awhile, or longer than a week, we get quite irritated by this claim that has no basis in fact. Homeschoolers, by far, get better and more frequent opportunities to socialize than public school kids.
Let’s first analyze the socialization that occurs these days in public schools. It is actually next to none. Kids have a little bit before school, perhaps some in between classes and lunch. But, even during lunch some schools are going to silent lunches where talking is not allowed. More and more schools are eliminating recess. Field trips occur once, maybe twice per year where you get to silently wait in line and listen to someone talk. Where, exactly, is all this socialization that occurs?
Then, during those short periods where the kids actually do get to interact, how realistic is it and how comparable is it to the outside world? The public school environment is the only time in a child’s life where they will be surrounded by peers exclusively within their age group for long periods of time. Even when they go off to college, they will be in educational and social environments with a vast range of ages and experiences. Simply put, real life environments never mimic those in a public school setting.
In contrast, homeschoolers have the opportunity for much better quality, more realistic and frequent social opportunities. The very nature of homeschooling eliminates segregating by age. Families educate together across the span of ages in the home and homeschool groups combine multiple families filled with all ages for activities. So, children are exposed to all levels of age and experience and they have to learn to communicate effectively within that environment.
The frequency of activities for homeschoolers is substantial. Most homeschool families are very active in their community going on field trips, exploring museums and zoos, taking classes, playing at the park, competing in academic, art and athletic events and volunteering. Ask a typical homeschool family how much free time they have in a week and you will quickly find out how anti social homeschoolers are. That’s to say, not at all.
Of course, you cannot examine public school socialization without discussing the negative influences that often spur parents toward homeschooling in the first place. Gangs, drugs, peer pressure and bullying are not the types of socialization most parents want for their kids. It is not even a realistic portrayal of most adult environments, either. How will exposing kids to these types of situations better prepare them for the “real world”?
Homeschool children certainly come across negative influences and peer pressure from time to time. However, the difference is that the parents are more involved in the social activities of their children and tend to know the parents and families of the children with whom their kids are interacting. They can better control the environment and eliminate the negative distractions. Homeschool kids still have to make decisions and learn the difference between right and wrong but their support system is stronger and the pressure tends to be more toward the positive than negative.
In these times, the argument that homeschool kids are not properly socialized is simply laughable. It is actually surprising how prevalent this argument still is with anti-homeschool proponents. The majority of homeschoolers already know how silly the argument is. Hopefully, those who are considering homeschooling do not get discouraged and give it a try to see the truth for themselves.