Are Homeschool Children Getting Enough Socialization?

The Great 'S' Debate

Socialization; a word that has become dirty to many a homeschooling family, and is akin to a curse word for all its implied meaning. The use of this word causes the most experienced home educating parent to cringe, or at the very least procures a heartfelt eye roll. No matter how long one has been homeschooling it is a question that is expected and dreaded in equal measures. Dreaded by teaching parents not because of a feeling of inadequacy in their ability to answer or because of a lack of strength in their answer, but because it is so very overused and abused. The sentiments behind the question may vary in condescending tones and sincerity, but it is always asked.

There have been enough reports filled with irrefutable statistics on the academic success of homeschooling that many critics have been silenced. Of course, as with any controversial subject, the critics never remain without argument for long. The idea that homeschooled children cannot possibly be getting the required amount of socialization-as if there is an industry standard-is not a new one. It has caused many a grandparent sincere grief, and given many experts in the field (the socialization one) a new platform in which to express their concern.

So the question remains; are homeschooled children receiving enough socialization? But is it the right question? Might a better one be, "are homeschooled children receiving the right kind of socialization?" And further to that thought can we not direct the same attention to public schooled children? Are our children, homeschooled or not, receiving good socialization? There is a difference, and most homeschooled parents are keenly aware of what that difference is.

In order to answer the first question with the proper attention it deserves it would be wise to dig a little deeper into the word itself. With all the opinions on how children should be socialized, and the assumption that a classroom full of same aged peers is the correct way to do it, knowing the meaning is only prudent. supplies this definition:

Socialization: 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.

Parents work hard to ensure their children learn how to behave. While each family has their own set of values, there is a shared goal among us that our children understand how to live beyond our guidance and shelter. We want them to succeed outside of our shadow of influence.

Homeschooled children are given the time and space to develop a personal identity in a safe environment where they can explore and test who they are within their boundaries. They are able to interact with a cross section of people and begin to put into practice life-long communication skills.

Socialization is not rejected in the homeschooling family, but neither is it revered as the most important aspect to the bigger picture. There are play dates, music lessons, sports, neighbourhood children, church, and youth groups that all aid the process and extra time with parents, grandparents and siblings to refine it.

Are homeschooled children getting enough socialization? Ultimately, the question must be asked each family on an individual basis. Just as no two families are the same, there are no exact matches when it comes to homeschooling. This is the nature of schooling at home, the essence of why it works and the foundation of the complex wonders teaching your own children creates. This debate will never end. When you go against the grain of societal norms there is always increased friction. It is also how character is shaped, resolves strengthened, and courage forged.

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