Are Your Homeschooled Children "Unsocialized"?

Socialization. It's the age old topic of discussion when random strangers- and sometimes even acquaintances- ask questions about homeschooling. The assumption seems to be that learning at home automatically creates these unsocialized hermit-like children who are shut up in their houses all day and never see the light of day much less other humans.

When my middle child was a nine-year-old in gymnastics she spent nine hours a week in the gym, three hours a day for three days. As I sat and waited through her practice one day, the father of one of her teammates struck up a conversation with me. In the course of our conversation, I told him that we homeschooled. After a few easy questions about how I taught four kids and what books we used there was a pause. And then...the question. "So...do they ever have a chance to, you know, be around other kids?"

Ummmm. Did he really not notice that my child was here? At the gym. Nine hours a week. With many, many other kids. Even if we truly didn't do anything else, she was there. With his kid. And lots of other kids.

Unsocialized homeschoolers

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So, often, this whole "socialization" question is a little crazy. But I know that when you hear it, it can cause a little seed of doubt to be planted in the back of your mind. And, even though you know that your kids have plenty of opportunities to see other kids, a little thread of worry sometimes niggles at you. And when you have those bad days where you feel as if you're getting this whole homeschooling thing really wrong, that little doubt can flare up. You begin to wonder, "Are my homeschooled kids unsocialized?"

I'm here to answer your question. For your own peace of mind and for an answer to those who will always ask.

Let's begin by defining "socialization." 


Dictionary.com defines socialization as 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.



Hmm, let's see.


"An individual acquires a personal identity."  


I taught in "real" school before I had children and began homeschooling. I can assure you that no child there wanted to be an individual. They wanted to be just like every other kid so that they didn't stand out. In fact if kids did stand out, they were ostracized by peers. And if they happened to learn in a different way than the other kids, they were labeled with some type of disorder or disability.

On the other hand, my kids can learn the way they learn best. They can climb under the table. They don't have to sit still. They can move slowly or quickly. They can use a curriculum that suits them. Because they are not acting a certain way to make sure they fit in, they can develop that unique personality, that personal identity.

"Learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills." 


Again, based on my experiences, in a traditional school, this really doesn't happen. Teachers may try very hard to teach values but in a school setting where one is surrounded by peers much of the day, kids tend to learn those values from their peers, not from the teachers. And if the peers they are around have negative values, what kind of values will they learn?



I want my children to learn certain values. At home, I can impart those values because I'm the one who is around them the most. Values and behaviors are most often "caught not taught."


By the way, homeschoolers are often busy hanging out with other people too.




But I'm pretty sure that this dictionary definition isn't what most people mean when they ask the big "socialization" question. What they really mean is, "Do you hide at home under a rock all day or do you ever go out?"  This question is especially humorous when it happens, like the story at the beginning of this post, at the activities of some of my children. Now really, if I didn't ever let them leave the house, I wouldn't be here to answer your question, now would I?




The fact is, I don't know a single homeschooler who isn't typically TOO busy. We have co-ops, sports, field trips, classes, camps, and play dates. Our problem is usually having too much to choose from.


Unsocialized homeschoolers


Let me assure you, if the little seed of doubt is lurking there in the back of your mind, you don't need to fear the "socialization issue." Your homeschooled children are learning through their interactions- with you, with siblings, with friends. They aren't stuck in a room with same-age peers. They are experiencing real relationships with people of all ages. Your homeschooled kids are definitely not unsocialized. 





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