WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?
Home schooling parents are frequently asked, "What about Socialization?" Some well meaning people think that you can not teach children to socialize with others without a traditional school environment. I just look at my children with gratitude. My wife and I have six daughters. What a pleasure it is to see them develop healthy relationships with people of all age groups, and treat others with respect. Home schooled children naturally associate with people of all ages, including adults.
As children attend public school they are segregated into groups by age. Children become part of these groups for years. Their class mates are basically the same, with little change for all of the elementary school years, and sometimes much longer. These friends become all important, hence the source of negative social pressure. Home schooled children run with a different gang, their families. The social pressure exerted, by those who truly love and care about them, is very different from that experienced in the public schools.
Many home schooling families go on frequent field trips. They experience the theatre, museums, and many cultural activities. These experiences, along with attending church, and normal interaction with families and friends give these children a wide variety of experiences, in various settings, that many children attending public school never will receive. Add to this the experiences that they do not receive, because they are not in public school.
There are many experiences that I received because I attended public school, that I never would have experienced in any other way. Most of us would never meet the following kinds of people if it were not for the public school system.
The Bully: I will never forget my friends who told the class bully that I had said something bad about him. Because I had been taught not to fight, I just sat there as he hit me in the mouth seven consecutive times.
Have you ever heard of a co-worker bulling someone on the job? Yes, but it is both rare and illegal. No employer, in today's litigious society would tolerate such behavior.
The Thief: Who could forget the fellow who was always hungry. So hungry in fact that we felt obligated to buy him lunch every day. He was always bigger than the others, and so was hungrier. I remember meeting this fellow in the boys bathroom one day. He was in the sixth grade, while I was in the third. I felt so sorry for him that I gave him my lunch money (not to mention the fact that I didn't want to get beat up).
Have you ever gone to lunch with some coworkers or friends, and have one of them demand your wallet?
The Great Orator: Everyone loved this fellow. He knew words that nobody else did. He expanded all our vocabularies. He used words that nobody else even knew. Because of him, I discovered the taste of soap, as administered by my mother.
The Show off: Without a large audience, and a class to disrupt, this fellow would never have anyone to entertain.
The list goes on and on and on. The girls all felt that they were in a fashion show, wearing revealing attire, and attracting attention in any way that they could. Children who thought out of the box were forced into silence by the group, and their creativity went untapped. We all learned what was acceptable and unacceptable to the group, and behaved accordingly. Discussing God was against the unwritten laws, and so God was rarely discussed. Actually studying was also taboo. The teachers all graded on the curve, and excellence on the part of one meant lower grades for the rest.
When was the last time you heard of a child picking up a good habit from the public schools? Where do kids learn about sex, drugs, and so many other things. This is where one of my children learned that men used to have tails, and lived in trees.
I have never met a home schooled child that was not polite and respectful. They relate well with adults. They are more caring, less self centered, and better balanced than other children that I have known. There are exceptions, however, just as many children come out of the public schools unscathed.
The socialization problem with home schooled children is a myth. Those who have a conflict of interest usually point to this issue. Why not? They cannot point to academic performance, home schooled children systematically outperform the public schools year in and year out.
The word "school" has many meanings. Fish travel in schools. They see themselves as a part of a group. Schooled children develop "group think" and learn to conform to the demands of the group. There are also "Schools of Thought", where people learn specific ways to think, not how to think.
Home schooling parents have many different reasons for doing what they do. Isolating their children from the world is not one of them. Most home schooling families are involved with a church. They usually participate in activities with other home schooling families. A friend of mine mentioned that her children had more friends after they started home schooling their children than they had while they were in the public schools.
As one man said "Take a walk down the hall ways of a local public school, and then decide, what behaviors you want your children to emulate?"