“What about socialization?” is a question on the minds of many of my friends who had considered homeschooling their kids. Unfortunately, although they were convinced of the benefits of homeschooling, most of them eventually decided against homeschooling based on this one perceived problem of socialization, fearing that their kids would somehow become social misfits. In my last installment of this series (previous installments are here, here, and here), I’d like to ask the question: Is socialization a real problem for homeschooling or not? Could socialization actually be a benefit of homeschooling?
Some years ago I took a blood test and they told me I had a lot of “good cholesterol.” It was the first time I heard that there’s a distinction between good versus bad cholesterol. I realized that cholesterol ain’t so bad as long as you have more of the good kind. And one has to be intentional in eating more healthy food in order to absorb more good cholesterol.
Most people don’t realize that “socialization” is actually very much like “cholesterol” — there’s a distinction between good socialization versus bad socialization. Children don’t just need “socialization”; they need more of the good socialization but less of the bad socialization. And you be intentional in setting up situations/environments that promote good socialization instead of bad socialization.
I had my American high school experience in my first year in the United States. Studying as a senior in that school, I also got my first experience being discriminated simply because of my race. And I saw how peer pressure could influence people to act in foolish ways. Later I realized that schools can allow a lot of bad socialization to happen. When many misdeeds are overlooked and unpunished, when people can hurt and bully each other unnoticed and without consequences, when schools more concentrate on academic teaching but has little interest (nor authority nor wisdom) in teaching life skills and social skills, the result is kids learning exclusively from other kids on what social behavior is. Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm,” but with children growing up with no guidance on proper social behavior, you are effectively placed among a company of fools.
On the other hand, homeschooling offers parents the opportunity to intentionally seek for good socialization for their children, and they are a constant mentor and guide when it comes to dealing with socialization issues. In fact, often it is because many homeschool families worry about socialization that they seek socialization opportunities for their children all the more. Typically homeschooled children are more involved in their communities, participate in more activities and classes and sports and interest clubs, go on field trips at any time of the year. And these children have the freedom to pursue their interests while parents can be flexible in helping guide them to the necessary resources and means.
Numerous studies have shown that children learn more positive socialization skills from their parents and siblings than from schools. Research data show that homeschooled children are more well-adjusted in life, demonstrate higher self-esteem, are more equipped with leadership abilities, and excel in just about every socialization category. I’ve personally met many homeschoolers who conduct themselves in a respectful manner, show no traces of race-based nor age-based prejudice, and is able to carry on meaningful conversations with adults and children of all ages.
No wonder an increasing number of people are choosing homeschooling because of its socialization benefits. It is still ironic to me that most people are uninformed still think that socialization is the number one weakness of homeschooling, while, to me and to a lot of researchers, it’s actually among the strongest point of homeschooling.
This concludes my four part series on dispelling homeschooling myths. Lois Ding over at dinghome.net is actually just starting a series on Homeschooling Q & As, so I encourage you all to subscribe to it!
dinghome.net: Homeschooling Q & A (Part 2)
Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World
No, Really — What About Socialization?