What About the Socialization?

Yesterday I wrote about our experience with virtual school and our kids.  The below article by Isabel Shaw highlights homeschooling, but virtual school kids and parents face the same issues mostly borne out of ignorance.

Our son Tanner has access to virtual school field trips and traveling with us to our business events where he has made friends from all over the world.  These are other kids who have traveled with their parents to the events.

He also is very involved with our spiritual center where he gets together with a great group of kids on Wednesdays and Sundays as well as rallies and weekend events with a larger group of kids from all over our area of Florida.

He plays tennis in the spring and takes part in a fabulous 6 week summer camp for junior filmmakers in our area.  We just found a great art program for him to go to with other kids and adults here, as well.

What About the Socialization?

All evidence that there is so much for kids outside of school if you just look.  It has been so worth it for our wonderfully out of the box family.  Tanner is growing up to be who he is… wonderfully quirky, smart and talented.  Many things he would be forced to change or diminish if he was in a regular school system to fit in.  It would’ve changed who he IS.

The below article articulately illustrates much of what we have found, as well.

Social Skills and Homeschooling:  Myths and Facts

The Debate

I’ve heard it a hundred times. If you’re thinking about homeschooling, it probably troubles you. “What about socialization?” is the major homeschooling question people have about a homeschooling lifestyle.

Professional educators, who don’t fully understand the many styles of homeschooling, often raise this issue. They believe school is the only place children learn socialization skills. But it’s just not true!

The socialization myth was born out of a misconception of what it’s like to homeschool. Many educators and critics of homeschooling still believe homeschoolers hit the books at 9 a.m., work all day at their kitchen table till 3:00 p.m. or later, and spend their day isolated and alone. This, of course, is ridiculous!

The homeschoolers I know are out and about every day, enjoying museums, beaches, parks, and shows without the crowds. They travel often. The kids participate in Girl and Boy Scouts, 4-H, and sports. They take art, dance, drama, language, and music classes, to name a few.

Dr. Raymond Moore, author of over 60 books and articles on human development, has done extensive research on homeschooling and socialization. His book, The Hurried Child, should be in every homeschooler’s library. “The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized,'” Dr. Moore writes, “is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today.”

Children often do not respond well to large groups. They become nervous and overexcited by noise and too many people. Learning becomes difficult. Behavioral problems develop. After analyzing over 8,000 early childhood studies, Dr. Moore concluded that, contrary to popular belief, children are best socialized by parents – not other children.

What kind of socialization occurs when 20 or 30 kids of the same age are placed in a classroom together day after day? Peer pressure is enormous. Kids feel like they need to look and sound and be like everyone else, at the risk of forgetting or never discovering who they really are. This results in rivalry, ridicule, and competition – hardly the environment for healthy socialization.

A homeschooler who interacts with parents and siblings more than with peers displays self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth. She knows she’s a part of a family unit that needs, wants, and depends on her. The result is an independent thinker who isn’t influenced by peers and is self-directed in her actions and thoughts.

The Research

In July 2000, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank, published an extensive report on homeschooling written by Senior Fellow Dr. Patricia Lines. She describes several controlled studies comparing the social skills of homeschoolers and nonhomeschoolers.

The homeschoolers scored as “well adjusted.” In one study, trained counselors viewed videotapes of mixed groups of homeschooled and schooled children at play. The counselors didn’t know the school status of each child. The results? The homeschooled kids demonstrated fewer behavioral problems. Dr. Lines’ conclusion? “There is no basis to question the social development of homeschooled children.”

Homeschooling parents know kids need blocks of quiet time alone. Time to dream and grow and find out what it is they love to do. This is something few children enjoy today. They are never alone at school, and their after-school lives are packed full of activities, as well.

If you are considering homeschooling and are still concerned about socialization, I suggest the following:

1. Find other homeschoolers in your area and strike up friendships. This can be done via the Internet, your place of worship, a food co-op, or library. Put up notices on safe billboards in your community.

2. Join a group like 4-H. 4-H is a youth development organization. Your child can choose one of their many clubs, based on his or her interests (rocketry, crafts, environment, animals, dance, and many more). All are welcome, and it’s free.

3. When you meet families out with kids during school hours, ask them if they homeschool. I know of many friendships that started that way!

4. Find out about the sports programs available through your local parks and recreation department. Team sports give kids the opportunity to meet peers with common interests.

5. Volunteer your services. Visit local nursing homes, shelters, etc. One young homeschooler regularly visited a nursing home with her mom and gave elderly women manicures. Giving unselfishly to one’s community sets a good example and develops true socialization skills.

Socialization, like learning and life, takes place every day. How you interact with your kids – and how they watch you interact with the outside world – teaches them all the social skills they’ll need to know. Stop worrying about socialization. It’s a “problem” that never existed!

Melissa Knecht

Thank you for visiting our blog! I am a Mom, wife, entrepreneur, life & business coach, spiritual seeker and someone always looking to evolve. I've studied personal and spiritual development for over 25 years. It has been a worthy pursuit and has positively shaped my life. While always continuing to grow, I now seek to pay it forward to others on the path. I have 3 kids - Josh, Olivia and Tanner. Tanner, 2 of whom did graduated from virtual school. We are an out of the box family and we love it! Kevin and I have designed our lives around many trials and tribulations... but they have made it all the sweeter. If you would like to connect with me, reach out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melissaknecht or through my contact page.

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11 Responses

  1. Al sazinger says:

    I have mixed feelings about home schooling … But great post!!

  2. Gary Akin says:

    Very interesting article on some aspects of homeschooling. Caused me to think about it, thanks Melissa.

  3. One of the great advantages of working from home, is having the ability to choose, and not being forced to subject your child to influences you’d prefer they not be around!

  4. Davin says:

    This post really help me; we had thought about home schooling for Jack and Grace but I was all worried about them becoming some kind of recluse!

    Really glad to see that in fact it does not have to be like that at all

    • Melissa Barnes Knecht says:

      Awesome, Davin! So glad it gave you some clarity. I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the future. 🙂

  5. Diana says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this very useful information. I’ve learned so much after reading this blog post. I’m pregnant with my first baby and now I’m thinking about homeschooling. Thanks so much 🙂

  6. Good read with lots of real experience, advice and information. Thanks. Keep on blogging.

  7. I’m like the idea of virtual school more and more. I went to a small country school – there was 14 of us in K-8 grade, so it was almost like being home schooled! I also spent a lot of time with my parents and their friends – and I’ve always felt comfortable talking with people of all ages. I think a variety of experiences with a variety of people will make children more well-rounded adults. Thanks for the information!

    • Melissa Barnes Knecht says:

      I went to a little school, too Nikole… through 4th grade. There were only about 15 kids per class, so not a lot in the school. It was walking distance from my house. I was sad when they closed it and we had to be bused to the next nearest school. Definitely a well-rounded experience is in our opinion, best. 🙂