I was asked *THE* question

I am usually a very confident person, especially when it comes to our homeschooling, but for some reason, when *the* question was put to me recently, I felt very not confident and my mind went blank.  It is not like we have not been asked that question before – after all, we are now in our 8th year of homeschooling!  So, for my mind to go blank was very not like me.  I do not know why I froze.  It could have been just the way the question was posed, the tone of voice she used perhaps put me on the defensive side, and it could have been because it was someone who has known my kids for many years and all of a sudden she asked this question.  Or, just a combination of it all.  (Photo taken from here.)

Anyone who has homeschooled knows what *the* question is, it is the most famous question a homeschool parent is asked (and yes I can even hear some of you snickering!): “What about SOCIALIZATION? Do your kids SOCIALIZE?”

I think everyone understands the importance of these two words, but I am not sure how many people actually understand what they mean. Socialization means a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. In other words, taking children out to various places, stores, the market, etc. and teaching them how to interact with the various kinds of people from various walks of life is teaching them socialization. Socializing means to make social; to seek or enjoy the companionship of others. So, having my children become friends with each other and playing with each other (as well as some peers) would be socializing. (Definitions from dictionary.com)

I thought I saved an email from one of my homeschool email lists that had a beautiful response to this question, but for the life of me I cannot seem to find it anymore.  I would like to post it if I do find it.  In the meantime, I would like to post part of an article that was sent to me by my sister from the August 19, 2009 Homeschool.com e-zine. (The article can be found here.)

For centuries, children have learned socialization within the context of their own family and community. Institutionalized education is relatively new to the human condition. It is, and it always has been, through the home environment, that children learn the vast majority of their socialization skills.

Research supports this.  According to Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, “Home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with–and feel close to–all sorts of people.”

He continues, “Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this. For, with their children’s long-term social development in mind, they actively encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society.”

This and other studies support the irony of the socialization issue in homeschooling that we have known for years, which is that traditional schools are actually more on a path of de-socialization.  In traditional schools students learn to stay in a class to which they’ve been assigned and are grouped according to age and academic level, and generally with students from the same geographic area and socio-economic background.

So in a sense, as I like to say, many people are homeschooling because of socialization reasons.

That seems to sum it all up very nicely.  I take my children all over the place – to stores, to the market, on other errands that need to be done.  They learn how to talk to various kinds of people, and people of various ages.  Oh yes, they also get to play with peers, they attend Scouts and we try to get them into camps when we can, among other things.  Some other ideas for socialization are:

  • Getting involved with homeschool co-ops
  • Less structured homeschool gatherings
  • Local field trips where you meet people from all walks of life
  • Community events such as scouting, 4-H, sports, etc.
  • Volunteer.  There is usually a minimum age requirement, however, some places will allow a younger volunteer if a parent stays with them.
  • Don’t forget about online socialization.  There are many children who are registered in virtual online classes in which they meet and interact with other students.

As I am finishing up, our mailman just drove down the street after finishing his route, honked and waved to my boys as they were going on a walk.  They enjoy talking to him, and I think he enjoys talking to them!

I am posting a link to a very cute video.  When I told one of my boys I was going to include it, he quoted his favorite line (after only watching it 2 times and it was several months ago at that,) and the two of us had a very good laugh, so I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!