Socialization is the crux of life. Without it we would have no being yet with it we realize how important it is for our survival. Our hearts are so enriched by our social lives that it will bring a person from despair to life. Why? Because we were created to be social since our GOD is relational. Without a social life you have no relationships, without relationships you have no contribution, without a contribution you have no money. There are still a lot of people out there who assume that homeschool students stay lock up in the house 24/7, with no relationships. So, a lack of a social life may seem to be a valid concern about homeschooling. But is it really? To answer that let’s take a look at what socialization is.
“Socialization can be defined as the process by which we learn the ways of a given society or social group so that we can function within it (Elkin & Handel, 1978).”~ Danielle Tasmajian, The Master’s College
To me, socialization is truly the blending of lives together, the gradual give and take of life experience and beliefs between people. Without this blending life would be dull, like a canvas of white with no distinction whatsoever. But with it life is vibrant and exciting like a beautiful watercolor by Joseph Raffael. When others hear that you plan to homeschool this is likely to be their very first objection. Why?
Well the very first question from you should be “What?” What are these well-meaning people saying? What do they mean? They could mean any of these three things:
1.Time for your children to interact with other children
2. Being influenced to conform to societal norms
3.Exposure to different cultures, values, and people groups
We can all agree that these things are important, so let’s see how the homeschool compares to the traditional school in meeting these needs.
Interactions with other children
For the homeschool, the parents are conscious of the socialization argument, so much so that the average homeschooler “is involved in 5.2 activities outside of the home” which may include a version of scouts, gymnastics and other sports, and even play groups whose sole purpose is to play and socialize! During everyday life the homeschooler will interact with people from young to old to really “young-old”. These children, because they are done with their work early, often have very meaningful conversations with each other and any adults they interact with. Plus they have plenty of time to have structured as well as unstructured play with other children of different ages, from different families.
Whereas the child in Traditional school will interact with 20-30 children their age on a regular basis. These children are mostly similar in race, living environment, and socioeconomic status. Most of the time the children are together they are sitting still trying hard to pay attention to their teacher, therefore not forming meaningful relationships. Their only free time to socialize is during lunch, recess and gym (if they still have them), and the walk or drive home.
Societal Norms Influence
Let’s take a look at a few of the societal norms that are taught from one student to another.
“I need a smartphone! Everyone has one. I’ll be the weird kid without one!”
“Why can’t I see that movie/show? All of my friends have seen it!”
For a lot of students their traditional school is:
- A place where we you get panic attacks for fear of teasing and bullying because you aren’t wearing the right clothes.
- Where to be respected you have to physically defend yourself (WARNING: This video contains cussing, if sensitive, view without sound)
- Where bullying is happening earlier and fiercer
- A place where oversensitive political correctness reigns, where you are afraid to say anything
- Where student culture says its okay to disrespect their teachers, cuss them out and physically assault them.
Homeschool students for the most part are taught to respect everyone around them. I say for the most part because I did witness a little brother pummeling his bigger sister at their home during a potential co-op meeting. Homeschoolers are much less likely to care about the latest fashions because they understand that having clothes to wear is good enough. In the loving homeschool there is no fear of being beat up nor mistreated by others. Now there is some pressure in the form of electronics that we have experienced by interacting with others outside of the homeschool community, but that is easily stemmed when we explain that there really is no need for a smartphone when you don’t have a license and we take you everywhere you have to go. 🙂 Even with the rest of the societal norms there is room for improvement upon those norms and the homeschooler is free to think through each to check if it is worth accepting, not accepting, or adjusting and the reasons behind their decisions. Traits of a leader and innovator.
Exposure to Difference
Homeschooled children because of the nature of their schooling can be anywhere and learn. Books provide different worlds and thoughts, the people they encounter while running errands are from many different walks of life. Some are doctors, some cashiers, some married and some single, many different nationalities, religious beliefs, and money in their bank accounts. Because of the flexibility homeschooling provides, your children will meet different people and learn their stories during mission trips or community service. Today, the tv and internet provide plenty of different beliefs for both the conservative and liberal homeschooler alike. You just have to be open to the experiences.
Unlike homeshoolers, students in the traditional school setting will only encounter people different from themselves during a field trip or school assembly in which they will still not have time to really get to know that person because of the mechanics of school life. Their exposure is limited to books, although I’ve heard they don’t read much of the classics anymore 🙁 , and any opportunities provided them outside of school by their parent(s). But even that time is limited because of the massive amount of homework and worksheet packets they are assigned during the school year.
My Last Thought
Lastly, we all have been conditioned to accept that the formal school is the only place where our children can be adequately socialized because, let’s face it, the sole reason they were created was to restrict variance and create norms. But, if being homeschooled makes one socially inept then why were our country’s founding fathers so successful? In fact, why has society as a whole, without formal schooling, been so successful in creating musicians and composers, philosophers, artists, presidents, governors, lawyers, scientists and inventors, writers, influential educators, etc.? We still read, listen to, and benefit from their many contributions to this day. If they were so socially inept because of homeschooling, why have they had such an impact on our world to this day?
So that is my analysis of the main differences. There are some related to teachers and parents, and Citizenship that I won’t go into now. Just know that when someone brings up the socialization argument that you have a solid foundation to stand on. For more information you can look into these resources:
- Revisiting the Common Myths About Homeschooling, The Clearing House, p. 125-130, Jan/Feb 2006 available on your library’s EBSCO
- Socialization Skills Acquired By Elementary School Children, Danielle Tasmajian, The Master’s College