If you have kids, but don’t homeschool, one of the first thoughts that probably enters into your mind when you hear the word “homeschool” is the notion that homeschooled kids are at a disadvantage when it comes to being properly socialized. If you do homeschool your kids, you probably hear this concern a lot from well-meaning acquaintances, friend, and even family.
Is it true? Are kids who are educated at home somehow more socially awkward and less able to interact with other kids and adults than their “classroom” peers?
The first thing we need to consider is what our definition of “socialized” really is. I would venture to say that, for most parents and educators, a well-socialized child (or any individual) is someone who can resolve conflicts, is respectful of other people, accepting of other beliefs and cultures, is well mannered, is generally self-controlled, and displays a degree of interest in the well-being of other people.
If we think of proper socialization in these terms, I think most of us would agree that it’s a stretch to expect children to learn these positive character traits simply by being around their peers. More to the point, is it reasonable to assume that a child in elementary or high school will somehow learn conflict resolution skills or empathy during recess or lunch break? Not likely. The playground may be an ideal environment where a child can put these skills into practice, but the only place she’ll learn them is from experienced and responsible adults.
So, from that perspective, a homeschooled student presumably has many advantages over the average student in the regular classroom in terms of proper socialization because she is under the guidance of her parents.
Of course, this doesn’t address the assumption that homeschooled kids are more awkward or “weird” in social settings. There are over two million kids being homeschooled in North America. This is no small number and, as a consequence, there are countless opportunities for these kids to be involved in sports, youth groups, clubs, and so on. In fact, it’s rare these days that you would come across a child who is homeschooled who doesn’t have a fairly active social life.
Finally, and many people tend forget this whenever a discussion on homeschooling comes up: Your typical school is filled with students with all kinds of different personalities. You will inevitably find many students who are quiet, awkward, and self-conscious. In fact, we’d expect to find students like this in every school yet we allow ourselves to believe that this somehow unique to those who are homeschooled.
What’s the bottom line? The idea that homeschooled kids aren’t properly socialized is a complete myth.