Stop Worrying About My Child’s Socialization; Worry About Your Own

So what brought you here? Is it the title, did it offend you? Did you read it, throw your hands up and exclaim “finally, someone said it!” Well, whatever side you are on, I hope you continue reading to better understand my blunt expression.

“Oh, you homeschool? Well, don’t forget to socialized your child.” As the unwanted advice giver walks away, I do a face palm. Inside I am screaming, angry and just plain frustrated! Then I wonder, what do people think socialization is really?

What Is Socialization

For some reason there is this great consensus that the only way a child learns socialization is in the classroom of a public school. Well, course Matt and I feel differently about this for our children. Since this has become the most unsolicited advice we get in regards to homeschooling, I felt the need to address the unknown. The first step is to define socialization; it sounds simple enough but it is still a good starting point. Here is how Merriam-Webster Dictionary online defines socialization (this is the medical definition) the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status.

So based on the definition provided it appears to me that socialization begins at infancy, long before entering a public school. This leads me to wonder why so many people have the false notion that school is the basis of social skills? Think about the skills your children have learned; sharing, turn taking, please, thank you, putting away toys, waiting, greetings/farewells and empathy to name a few. These skills are learned before a child enters school, they are learned from parents, siblings, relatives, and other people they come into contact with.

Public School and Socialization

Let’s put 20 people in a room, have them sit quietly, focus on one person, model that one person and make sure that there is one of everything so no one has to wait or share. It sounds pretty unbelievable, right? But it is exactly what a typical classroom in a public school looks like. Since when did school become the foundation for socialization? How many times have you heard “you can socialize after class/school”. Personally, I remember hearing this from my teachers. So when exactly does socialization at school happen? At lunch and recess? However, I worked in a public school and I remember children being told not to talk but to eat during lunch. Recess, well that time is a mere 20-30 minutes and by the time children reach middle school its pretty much non-existant.

Socialization and The Homeschooler

Does a homeschooler have an advantage with socialization? In my opinion, absolutely! You may think I am bias in my view, so let me enlighten you to my perspective. Here are a list of our socialization opportunities that we encounter, some daily.

At Home 

  • Picking up toys and materials
  • Daily chores
  • Use of manners
  • Conflict resolution
  • Turn taking
  • Recognize emotions and the way behavior effects others
  • Sharing toys and materials with sibling
  • Follow directions and rules

In The Community (Library, Stores, Playground, Visiting Others, Church, Sports, Special Activities)

  • Greetings/Farewells
  • Picking up any toys or materials used
  • Use of manners
  • Conflict resolution
  • Turn taking
  • Recognizing emotions and the way behavior effects others
  • Sharing toys and materials with others
  • Respect for other adults
  • Respect for other peoples’ property
  • Follow directions and rules
Anna and Eli at a community Halloween event

 

We make it part of homeschool routine to incorporate community activities in our curriculum. Many people have this notion that homeschool children are stuck inside a house without interaction or participation with the outside world. This is far from the truth, and where I think this socialization myth emerged. Personally, I think it is better for children to learn skills by interacting with members of the community. Yet, for some reason we think interaction with 20 individuals with the same amount of skills to be a superior method. I worked in a life skills program for children with severe and multiple disabilities, do you know what we did to work on social skills? We took them out into the community! We brought them to stores and other special activities in the community. Hmmm…I think we were on to something.

No Reason To Worry

On multiple occasions in public, people are often questioning why my daughter is not in school. On the contrary, she is usually in “school mode” when we are in the community. Yes, I have been told by people “be sure you socialize her” or “aren’t some homeschool kids awkward”. The answer to the first statement–“Don’t worry about my child, she is socialized. To the second statement — “There are plenty of public school children who have awkward behavior”. Let’s be real, there are plenty of public school children who are introverts, extroverts, or bullies. I have seen these traits all first hand; not only as a student but as an educator.

I meet many parents at the park with my daughter, I wonder if they are surprised to pay us compliments for her behavior. I am not gloating and asking for praise but for understanding, homeschooling does not put children at risk or disadvantage. At the park, my daughter is usually the first child to approach others and ask them to play. She greets them with a hello, says her name and asks them “what is your name”. She approached children of all ages, she plays well with children younger than her and will ask children older than her to play. Does this sound like a child with a socialization problem? Sometimes, we even go to a local coffee/donut shop during the morning for a treat, here we practice manners. One day, a man was sitting reading his paper across from us (I have a one year old and a six year old) and when we got up to leave he complimented on how well behaved the children were.

No it is not always a pretty picture, there have been times my daughter has gotten bullied or left out. As a parent, this is hard to watch and I would like for it not to happen, but I know that it is not because my daughter is not socialized. Sometimes, I look at the other child(ren) and question their social skills–why do they say mean and hurtful things to another child or intentionally avoid them? I do not believe these are traits that result from homeschool versus public school but that of parenting and to some extent personality.

Anna checking out books at the library

Still Got Questions

While this post reflects on socialization; I did write a post on the myths and questions of homeschooling and you can read that post here. This is not a bash against parents who send their children to public school but insight into those who chose to homeschool. If you still have questions, I would gladly answer them to the best of my ability in the comments. Also, many states do allow for homeschool children to take part in special activities and sports within their school district. Maybe you were unsure about homeschooling because you hear negative comments about socialization. My hope is that this post helps you to see that it is not a negative but a positive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Stop Worrying About My Child’s Socialization; Worry About Your Own

  1. Yesss! My go to now is: “what did you just say socialism?” They correct themselves rather quickly and then I usually go into my *prepated script* lol! I love your post so much I’m adding it to my notes list. Thanks for shedding light on this as well as you do.

    • Stefanie,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. We had planned to homeschool our children even before we had them!! We always knew this is what we wanted to do and from the beginning we got some “feedback”. I tend to have difficulty speaking in the moment, I am a think it over, write it down type of girl 🙂

  2. Yesss! My go to now is: “what did you just say socialism?” They correct themselves and then I go into my speel, otherwise “you should look up JTG” follows! I love your post so much I’m adding it to my notes list. Thanks for shedding light on this.

  3. Oh man, I know for SURE that a lot of people will be critical of how I parent when the time comes, but I don’t even care AT ALL.

    • 🙂 I try not to care to much about it all but it gets pretty annoying to hear! Much of the time I laugh it off but sometimes people are just so oblivious to the truth.

    • Thank you! My intent is to help people understand that socialization takes place all the time and everywhere. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Rashida,
      Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. My main goal is just to help people see that socialization does not just take place in a public school.

  4. If everyone would stop being so critical about everyone else’s child and focus on their own, we’d all just be so much happier and less stressed. Feeling the glaring eye of another mom is never fun. :/

    • Shannon,
      You are so correct, we moms tend to really take to heart the opinions of other moms too much. I wish we as moms could all get on the same boat and lift each other up. Mothering is hard and it would be so great if we could all just support each other and led our advice when asked! 🙂

  5. I was homeschooled as a child and so I really have a bad taste in mouth from it, but how social the child is really depends on the kid. I’ve seen both sides of the fence, the introverts, like myself, would be anti social no matter what situation you put them in. And it is those type of children who need to be pushed into social situations, or put in school to at least have to make an effort. Kids who are outgoing, they are just that. I don’t homeschool, but before my son started school both of my children talked to everyone everywhere we would go. They would be social no matter what. I have my own grievances with homeschooling, but each parent has to make that decision for their child. 😉

    • Angie,
      Thank you for your comment and I am sorry for your bad experience. On the contrary my daughter was very introverted in her toddler/preschool years. I never “pushed” her into social situations, I merely made them available. Over time as situations became familiar and I modeled the behavior of introduction, she began to initiate play and conversation on her own. Looking at my daughter now, who is almost 7, you wouldn’t even think that she was ever introverted. I am certainly not “bashing” or “judging” any parent who chooses public school, that is how I received my education (I am just not a fan of the school system). I am glad we are able to make the schooling decision for our children, my hope was to put some positive light on the topic and help people to see why we find it beneficial.I think its important for people to see that there are more social opportunities available than just attending school.

  6. kate says:

    I’ve known some kids who were homeschooled and their parents nailed it. Did such a great job with it they came out as fantastic well- rounded individuals (all grown up now in their 20’s). Unfortunately, I also know parents who have done a great disservice to their kids. I think this is why people get so worked up about it, but the reality is there are kids in the public school system who are struggling with socialization too. Just because they are in school doesn’t mean they are necessarily learning how to interact with others properly It just means there might be more opportunity.

    • Kate,
      Thanks for your comment, and I can certainly understand you point. Yes, there are children on both sides that can have problems with social skills. My point was that too many emphasize that issue towards homeschoolers and don’t seem to acknowledge it for public schoolers. I also do know that it is up to the homeschooling parent to make sure their child has socialization but as I mentioned in my post this begins at infancy. As I look at the public schools now, I am sad to see so many children depressed, bullied, and disrespectful towards peers and adults. I don’t see any of this as “positive” socialization. My hope is to just show people how a large population of homeschooling families approach socialization in a positive manner.

  7. Becky Hilton says:

    I have had the chance to bear witness to several families who chose to home school their children. From my own observations, it seems that young people who have that kind of attention from truly involved parents who not only want them to be educated in “book learning” but in “life” do much better in social situations. The parents also seem much more aware of the strengths as well as the weaker aspects of their child’s personality and ability and tailor learning in a way that is not possible in a classroom full of individuals who bring in a wide variety of strengths and challenges yet have to get through the same basic concepts in a set period of time.
    As to your children specifically- I can also vouch that I found them well “socialized” and in fact felt that your daughter was well beyond her peers in socially appropriate behavior.
    Not that you need my approval or anyone else’s but for what it’s worth- my two cents: You are raising some great children with awareness and manners that are becoming increasingly rare in our entitled, egocentric society. Awesome parenting, mentoring, and example-setting! 🙂

    • Becky,
      Thank you so much!! I so enjoyed our talk and you inspired me to get this post out!! Your words were such an encouragement and it was really great to hear since you were able to witness my daughter. Much of the time people hear we homeschool and they immediately say “don’t forget to socialize”! Yes, we are involved parents and our involvement is why we chose to homeschool. I wish you lived closer, I alway enjoyed talking with you.

  8. Jo says:

    Some of my best friends home school, and it is amazing! They totally make fun of comments they get from other people, which I can’t believe some of the stuff people will say! 🙂

    • Hi Jo,
      I am so glad you get to see how wonderful homeschooling is from some great friends. It really boggles my mind when I hear the comments some people make, it makes me curious about their social skills 🙂 I think for me being so new to homeschooling, I get easily bothered and upset by the negative comments. I am sure in time I will be able to laugh at the comments made too.

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