Are Homeschoolers Socialized?

“One of the most persistent criticisms of home-schooling is the accusation that home-schoolers will not be able to fully participate in society because they lack ‘socialization’,” began an article in the Washington Times. I’ve had the privilege of attending public schools, and participating in homeschooling. I even did both at the same time for many years. Have I only been half as well socialized as I could have been?
Indeed, “socialization” is often the biggest concern cited by those unwilling to homeschool their children. Is there good solid evidence for believing your child will end up unable to cope with our complex society as a result of receiving his or her education at home?
Are homeschoolers socialized  - a dual enrollee responds
First off, what exactly IS socialization? Here are a few definitions:
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  1. The modification from infancy of an individual’s behavior to conform with the demands of social life.
  2. 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.
  3. The act or process of making socialistic.
It sounds to me like the first two definitions are what most people are concerned with when they throw out the word, socialization.
I sure hope they don’t mean the third definition, although that is quite possible, seeing as the public education system was founded by socialists. (See Weapons of Mass Instruction, John Taylor Gatto)
In general, those who fear un-socialization from home-schooling, or use this fear as an argument against the model, are using the word in the sense that—by home-schooling—your children will not be well adapted to the traditions and rituals of society, and that your children “will not be able to fully participate in society,” or that they will not learn from society how they are supposed to act, and thus, will be abnormal and/or miss-out on societal experiences.
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No one wants that for their children, right?
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On a more extreme level, some may fear that homeschoolers will be so un-socialized that they will be paralyzed by fear or uncertainty when they eventually leave the nest and have to face, “the real world.”
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Is it true that homeschooling results in a lack of socialization?
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Well according to the definitions of socialization above, no. Everyone receives some form of socialization. It is a “continuing process” and a “modification from infancy”. Everything in our lives influences how we are “socialized”. Everyone receives socialization, or another way of putting it, everything that happens to us shapes who we are, and how we interact with other people. This is branded, “socialization.”
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And yet, some have the idea that homeschooling results in a complete lack of socialization. This idea is propagated by the myth that homeschoolers spend their days, “locked in their room, studying in the dark,” as one acquaintance of mine assumed I did after I turned down an offer to attend a social gathering. I corrected him, pointing out that, “No, I don’t study in the dark because then I can’t see. I leave the lights on.”
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However, does my turning down this offer make me un-socialized?
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Unless you need me to point out the obvious fact that homeschoolers do quite often come into contact with other human beings, the question is not, “Will homeschooling mean my children won’t be socialized?”
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The question that should actually be asked is, “Will homeschooling result in the right kind of -socialization?”
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If you want your child to be “normal” and like everyone else, then I would say public school would be your best bet. Certainly, plenty of homeschool kids do turn out like normal worldly people, but such a result is more readily achieved through public school than through homeschooling.
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But how exactly do we measure socialization? What does a “well-socialized” individual look like? What standard are we striving for?
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Diane Flynn Keith, an alternative education specialist & parenting coach, had this to say, “Socialization is actually meant to prepare children for the real world, which means learning to interact and deal with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. In this case, homeschooling actually does a better job of this because homeschoolers spend more actual time out in society.”
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In other words, a well-socialized individual knows how to properly interact with other people.. According to Keith, homeschooling does a better job teaching kids how to interact with people because homeschoolers receive more practice by spending more time out in society.
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Meanwhile, public schoolers spend all day confined inside a building among the same group of people who are all the same age. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, often get out in society, allowing them to encounter a diverse social landscape.
The flexibility of homeschooling allows students to visit museums, parks, and zoos, always accompanied by their teacher(s), and always learning. When most other kids are forced to head to a classroom to learn, homeschoolers are out in the world, learning from real life.
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Homeschoolers, on average, also participate in more activities than institutional students. According Richard G. Medlin, author of Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization, “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.”
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Medlin goes on to say,
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“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.”

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There are many ways to “get socialized” as a homeschooler. There are homeschooling groups, where you can interact with other homeschoolers. You can participate in homeschool and family get-togethers. You can do homeschooling co-op,. sports, scouting, dance/theater, 4-H, and so on. You can go to different camps, or do volunteer work. The possibilities are endless because you don’t have to be confined in a building all day every week for 9 months out of the year.
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However, you don’t necessarily have to do a lot of activities to know how to treat other people, and how to interact well. The fact is, homeschoolers are better adjusted and have less behavioral problems than public schooled kids. Children aren’t going to learn how to properly act from other children who also don’t know how to act. Why people think their kids need to be around other kids to learn how to be socialized is beyond me. If you wanted to to teach someone how to fly an airplane, you wouldn’t send them to learn from a bunch of other people who don’t know how to fly airplanes.
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Children learn best from their parents, and their parents were the ones God intended to teach them. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath : but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
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The Greek word which is translated into “nurture” is Paideia, and is defined thus:
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The whole training and education of children…it also includes the training and care of the body, and cultivates the soul by correcting mistakes. – Bible Study Tools

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Or, as the dictionary defines:
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training of the physical and mental faculties in such a way as to produce a broad enlightened mature outlook harmoniously combined with maximum cultural development

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The Bible commands parents (especially fathers) to be the ones who handle the training, education, and socialization of their children, not other people’s children and not professional teachers. 
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Homeschooling has been around for thousands of years, and people were socialized just fine. Our modern public school system has been around for only a little over a century, and was created for the purpose of creating competent and compliant factory workers. (Gatto) So don’t send your children to public school to be socialized…unless you do intend for them to be a mindlessly compliant factory worker.

Finally, here is a short list of some people who were homeschooled. I’ll let you be the judge on whether or not they got along well in the “real world.”

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  1. John Quincy Adams
  2. Grover Cleveland
  3. James Garfield
  4. William Henry Harrison
  5. Andrew Jackson
  6. Thomas Jefferson
  7. Abraham Lincoln
  8. James Madison
  9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  10. Theodore Roosevelt
  11. John Tyler
  12. George Washington
  13. Woodrow Wilson
  14. George Washington Carver
  15. Albert Einstein
  16. Michael Faraday – electrochemist
  17. Oliver Heaviside – physicist and electromagnetism researcher
  18. Blaise Pascal
  19. Booker T. Washington
  20. Erik Demaine – Popular Science Mag: One of the Most Brilliant Scientists in America
  21. Alexander Graham Bell – invented the telephone
  22. John Moses Browning – firearms inventor and designer
  23. Peter Cooper – invented skyscraper, built first U.S. commercial locomotive
  24. Thomas Edison – invented the stock ticker, mimeograph, phonograph, and perfected the electric light bulb
  25. Benjamin Franklin – invented the lightning rod
  26. Elias Howe – invented sewing machine
  27. William Lear – airplane creator
  28. Cyrus McCormick – invented grain reaper
  29. Guglielmo Marconi – developed radio
  30. Eli Whitney – invented the cotton gin
  31. Sir Frank Whittle – invented turbo jet engine
  32. Orville and Wilbur Wright – built the first successful airplane
  33. William F. Buckley, Jr.
  34. Agatha Christie
  35. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
  36. Charles Dickens
  37. Robert Frost – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
  38. C.S. Lewis
  39. Christopher Paolini – author of #1 NY Times bestseller, Eragon
  40. Beatrix Potter – author of the beloved Peter Rabbit Tales
  41. George Bernard Shaw
  42. Walt Whitman
  43. Mattie J. T. Stepanek – 11-year-old author of Heartsongs
  44. Mercy Warren
  45. Laura Ingalls Wilder

The proper socialization of children is very important. For this reason, homeschooling should be strongly considered since it is the best means toward achieving proper socialization.


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4 Comments

  1. Bravo! As a homeschooling mom, what a delight it was to read this… and to know that it's written by someone who HAS been homeschooled.

    Matt Walsh once commented that on of his concerns regarding the “socialization” element of children is that when you send your child to school, how much times do you, as a parent, have to spend “unsocializing” them from behaviours and things they've learned in the school system!

    I detest the whole “socialization” question that comes up when I tell parents that I homeschool my kids. Hopefully more people sees posts like these and get a better understanding of homeschooling.

    I loved the Homeschooler Roll Call at the end of this post – AWESOME.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.

  2. Great piece! Against the advice of doctors and therapists, I chose to homeschool my child, who had significant speech delays. They thought the best way for his speech to improve was to be around his peers. I've observed enough play date interactions to see that his peers did not have the patience or desire to communicate with him. I'm confident that he improved far more in his speech development being homeschooled than being isolated in a classroom of 30 kids.

  3. That's exactly right. More often than not, public school teaches a lot of behaviors contrary to proper socialization. It really is ridiculous that people bring up socialization as an issue. If you want your children to be properly socialized, you should homeschool them.

    Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Yeah, that is not the best advice. My younger siblings are some of the smartest kids I know, and have pretty big vocabularies, not because they only interact with kids their age, but because they have a lot of contact with adults and their older siblings. They are learning from people with more knowledge than they have, rather than being around a bunch of other people who also don't know. That's the blind leading the blind.

    Additionally, not much talking is allowed during class. “Socializing,” is always frowned upon by teachers.

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