I have noticed, since posting about our site, a fair amount of interest in the socialization process for kids that attend
school at home, so as a parent that does school my two at home, I thought I might address some of these issues. Please
keep in mind as you read this, that this article is intended only to show some of the socialization opportunities available
- I am not saying that homeschooling is a better option than public schooling!
First of all, yes, there are a lot of socialization opportunities out there for homeschooled children. I belong to a local
homeschool group that has park days, field trips, and more. With them we have toured pumpkin patches, a sticker factory, an
ecology center, and more, just as public school children go on field trips. Children on these ventures range from tots to
near-adults, giving all the children a wide range of people with which to socialize. 4-H is another option, with a homeschool
group of its own. Many regions of the U.S. have numerous groups to which a family can belong, all with unique offerings. There
are also charter school programs tailored to meet the needs of the homeschooled child, offering academic assistance and a
variety of elective classes, so that even a devoted at-home-scholar can enjoy a classroom environment once or twice a week,
or even more if desired. In addition, there are sports teams and classes, dance classes, art classes, Scouts, music lessons,
and much more. According to Time Magazine (Seceding from School, August 2001), “98% of homeschooled children
are involved in activities outside their homes, with persons other than family members”. For many homeschooling families,
the issue is too many outside activities!
Then there are the more mundane aspects of socialization, those that come about through daily life. Grocery shopping, going
to the library, running other errands, all provide social opportunities, chances for children to meet with and mingle with
people of all ages, in real-world settings. Older children, in their teens, often seek out part-time employment (just as public
school teens do), or internships, that provide them with more socialization, while instilling the sense of responsibility
we all hope to see our children develop.
Of course, part of the role of being a parent who homeschools is to seek out and fully utilize these opportunities, just
as much as it is that parent’s responsibility to act as teacher for their children. A parent interested in homeschooling
is often a parent willing to do all types of research to find the best teaching tools and experiences for their child(ren).
And yes, there are always homeschooled kids that are not well socialized, but then there are kids like that in public schools
too. My brother, for example, went through second grade, in a public school, without saying a word to anyone. No socialization
"system", at home or at a school, is perfect.
I would like to finish by saying that, in my personal experience, I have noticed a striking difference in homeschooled
kids versus their public school counterparts, and that is the willingness of older kids to play games with younger ones. Often
in schools, children are very much age-segregated, and the older child that plays with a younger one can become a target for
ridicule. I have not yet witnessed this at a park day, 4-H, or any other homeschool gathering. To me, that says a lot about