What about Socialization?
It has always been interesting to me that the big objection to homeschooling is that children will not be adequately socialized. Again this seems to come back to the stereotypes that people have of homeschoolers.
From a common sense stand point this argument has always struck me as odd. Children are not born with social skills, so how do we expect other, also unsocialized children, to teach our children social skills. What they learn is how to survive, to get their way, or to bully. They have to be taught to be polite, to be kind, and to share, all skills best learned from the adults in their lives, not from other children.
I’ve, also heard that children need to be in school to learn to deal with the ‘real’ world. What about school is real? It is a totally artificial situation which will never be duplicated again once a child graduates. Where in your adult life are you grouped with 30 other individuals who are exactly the same age as you, in a completely structured environment?
For parents concerned about this issue, there are a multitude of choices that are far superior to the option of institutionalizing your children for 13 years. There are church groups, school groups, park days, and sports activities. If your child is dramatic you can join a theatre group, if they want to do karate, they can take a class. My boys were with other children almost every day of their childhood at some activity or another.
Most importantly, children with a strong sense of self, or identity generally socialize easily, both with other children and with adults. I think the advantages that the homeschool child has in terms of identity is probably one of homeschoolings greatest advantages.
For those of us who have come up through the public school system, we understand how strongly our identity was influenced by our school relationships. Years after high school students who were in the ‘nerd’ group are still uncomfortable around the ‘popular’ kids. The insecurities picked up on the playground continue to play a role into adulthood. It takes work to leave those insecurities behind because they became a part of us when we were too young to evaluate whether or not they were true or valid.
Children who are homeschooled are somewhat baffled by this, they have never had to survive in the typical school situation and cannot appreciate the pressures put on their friends to ‘fit in’. Without this pressure our children are free to develop as individuals and don’t view themselves in the same way that their counterparts in school do. I didn’t fully appreciate this advantage to homeschooling until my children were grown, but watching them now, seeing how this freedom has allowed them to develop self-confidence and the ability to relate to many different people…I think it’s become one of the biggest advantages I see.
Since this is one of those topics that seems to concern everyone, it is not surprising that research has been done. Now that a generation of homeschool students have come of age and are adults, surveys have been taken to see if the socializing aspects of homeschooling have been successful. (Again, the details of this study are available at HSLDA.com.) HSLDA commissioned the largest research survey done to date of those who have been home educated. The study was conducted by Dr. Brian Ray and surveyed over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. Over 5,000 of these had been home educated for at least 7 years. Here are some of the results from this study.
Over 74% of home educated adults between the ages of 18 and 24 had gone on to take college level courses compared to 46% of their public school counterparts.
71% of homeschool adults were found to participate in ongoing community service activities…whether this be coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school or working with a church…compared to 37% of adults of similar ages. 88% of homeschooled adults were members of organizations like community groups, unions, professional organizations, and churches, compared to 50% of U.S. Adults.
Homeschoolers also tend to be more politically minded and involved.
“Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults. This may account for why homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to campaigns, and vote in much higher percentages than the general population of the United States. For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18–24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population. The numbers of homeschool graduates who vote are even greater in the older age brackets, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. Populace.”
The study also had some other interesting statistics that I share, well, because I found them interesting. 90% of the homeschoolers surveyed had used the public library in the past year as compared to 56% of the general population. 98% of homeschooled adults had read a book in the past 6 months, as compared to 69% of the general population. 91% of homeschoolers believed that a citizen should be able to make a speech against the church and religion as opposed to 88% of the general population.
So there you have it, socialization… no problem. It appears that as adults homeschooled children go on to get further education, are involved citizens, and continue to be active in community life, as well as using the public library and defending the right to free speech.