By Jeanne Crosbie
I am pretty sure that, as homeschool parents, we have all heard the question, “What about socialization?” And we have all probably found it odd because one of the reasons that we do homeschool is to avoid some of the issues surrounding socialization.
Dictionaries state that socialization is: to teach one to behave in an acceptable way in society by learning and adapting our behaviour to society’s customs, attitudes and norms. So then, the real question becomes, how does one become well socialized?
Socialization is done through training—interacting with and modeling the behaviour of others in one’s surrounding environment. Others being adults and peers. Children raised in a peer-dominant environment quickly begin to perceive the behaviours of the peer group as the accepted norm and model it themselves. They falsely believe that more people act this way than is actually true. (“But Mom, everyone else is doing it!”)
The institutional education system creates just such an environment. Large groups of children of the same age are placed together in a setting that has little discipline, accountability and few expectations. Everything is provided, except responsibility, as they are trained to be passive and compliant while being passed on from year to year. With the increase in single parent families and two parent income families, children spend more and more time in a peer dominant culture and their focus shifts from parents to peers. (Wasn’t this the plot for Lord of the Flies? Remember how well that turned out?)
In a parent-dominated environment, children interact with adults who model good behaviour and have more meaningful conversations. Knowing that they have caring adults in their lives that have certain expectations of them creates responsible and accountable youngsters. Free to become independent thinkers not dependent on peer values, they can resist being influenced, and are better able to direct their own thoughts and actions.
And contrary to popular belief, homeschool families are actually average people from all walks of life. On a regular basis, they leave their homes to participate in their communities just as fully as anyone else. Opportunities are provided to interact with a wide variety of different people.
Many studies have been conducted that compare homeschool children to traditionally educated children. None have shown homeschool in a negative light with respect to either academics or socialization. In fact, most research shows homeschooled children to be more mature and have better social skills with fewer behavioural issues than their institutionally educated counterparts.
It would seem that the only thing homeschool children are lacking is the negative pressure to conform to the poor standards of peer group behaviour, making the argument that children must be around other children in order to be properly socialized, rather absurd. In fact, one may wonder if the shift towards increased institutionalized care of our children at a younger and younger age might be the cause of many of society’s modern ills.
“Social Behaviours: Public vs. Home Educated Children”, OFTP website
“Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World”, by Chris Klicka, HS Legal Defense Association Website
“Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts”, by Isabel Shaw, homeeducation.com