Monday, July 9, 2012

Homeschoolers and Socialization

Okay guys,  I will warn you I am about to get on a soap box here.  Please bear with me or at least go to the links at the bottom of the page and check those out.  This is the number one criticism of homeschooling I hear over and over and over again.  It might be stated as, "aren't you concerned about her socialization?", or "I think homeschoolers are too sheltered and don't learn how to interact with others", or even, "Kids need school to make them tough.  All that bullying helps them be strong when they are older". 

Here is the thing that makes the idea that kids at school get socialized by their peers at school so misinformed.  Proper and full socialization includes aspects like manners, values education, using tact. . .  Do you think a five year old is going to teach any of these things to another five year old?  What about a sixteen year old?  Not LIKELY!  Here is another way of making the same general point.  Thanks Hedgemage!

Basic rules about interaction between peers are enforced at schools when there is someone to see rules being broken, but manners are not really a part of the discussion.  Even societal rules about proper social interactions that are "enforced" by schools are often overlooked by kids when there isn't a set of eyes watching.  We know this because if rules weren't ignored, bullying wouldn't be a problem, nor would cheating. 

In public schools Values Education is virtually a thing of the past - except where it comes to learning tolerance, Independence (also known a self-centeredness in its extreme negative) and environmental consideration.  To many "values" subjects are just too controversial to discuss in the classroom.  In fact many of the best books that would lead to good values discussions and debates are banned in the classroom (yes even in high school).  Classics like the Grapes of Wrath and The Diary of Anne Frank are on banned book lists across the country.   My Sister's Keeper is listed as banned because it is "too depressing" but what a great book to get a discussion going about medical technologies, genetic engineering, and a variety of values related to parenting and families in general.  Of course I would not advocate for this  kind of discussion in an elementary classroom but why not in high school?  Especially if it is moderated in such a way as to allow for both sides to be presented.

All of this would be fine (even the best schools can't do everything) if children were still offered the opportunity to get a specific values/ manners/ social/ and civic education at home (where these topics really should be addressed anyway) but between parent's work schedules, the typical after school activities schedule, competition with the TV, and loads of homework, most families don't find the time - even if they really want to address these things.  Honestly I've had a few students that still didn't know how to properly use their knife and fork IN MIDDLE SCHOOL because their families didn't even eat together at the table  (that was the exception not the rule and would be possible for a kid who is home schooled too, but I'm making the point that mortar and brick schools do not socialize our kids without explicit effort either).  Because of this myth that somehow our school system automatically "socializes" kids many parents don't seem to realize that they need to make the time to work on this at home too.

Anyway, the point of all of this, is that public schooling does not a socially well adjusted and skilled child make.  Whether or not a family regularly sits around the dinner table for meals together DOES have a huge impact on social skills, and social awareness.  The more frequent existence of early "risky behaviors" in kids that are not members of a family that regularly eats together is also demonstrative of the impact this seemingly simple act can have and guess what home schooled kids are more likely to have done than non?  Eat meals together at the dinner table.

In addition to the references I posted links to in "Decision #2" and in "The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling" on the matter, here are a few more references I've discovered since.  All of these resources are in agreement that home schooled children are MORE likely to be socially adjusted, socially well-adapted, and socially skilled.  There is also mention that they are more likely to participate in civic activities such as volunteering and voting.  Now if I could just require that these resources be assigned reading in school lol!

Other blarticles about Social Skills that can be looked up:
Public School Vs Homeschool Socialization By Joan Vasquez
Homeschool Provides Better Socialization by Mary Peterson
Nuh Uh! Homeschoolers Are Too Socialized! By dreahwrites
The Myths About... by Paula Sloan
Socialization Does Occur Within Homeschooling Families by Brenda Hoffman
Public School Vs. Homeschool:Who Can Do A Better Job At... by Brenda Hoffman
Socialization: Why School Is The Worst Place To Get It by Nan
Got Socialization?: A Homeschooling Father's... by Robert Keating
Socialization In School?: Is Socialization A Reason For Or Against... by Karen Kaiser

More Resources
http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/human-relations/56224.html
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/13/home-schooling-socialization-not-problem/
www.hslda.ca/cche
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vtch20
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0161956X.2000.9681938 Homeschooling: Breaking
http://www.homeschool.com/articles/socialization/default.asp
http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html

For a good laugh on the subject, check out "Messy Mondays, Seven Lies about Homeschoolers" by Blimy Cow. on You Tube.

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