Thursday, May 08, 2014

Homeschool: "But what about socialization?"

When I began to tell others that we were going to home educate, many were quick on the draw with questions.  The most-asked question, or concern, expressed is, "But what about socialization?"

So many believe that homeschooled children are kept inside the house all day, every day, and never talk to people.  That could not be farther from the truth!  In fact, I will be so bold as to say that most home educated children are in more social situations every day than students who attend a public school (or really any school). 

Let me explain what I mean by that:

Being in a classroom of same-age peers does not at all prepare for the real world!  Try to think of another time in the rest of your child's life that they will be in a room at one building all day long with people who are all the same age.  Besides kindergarten through twelfth grade, I was never in that scenario myself.  Even college classes were made up of a variety of ages, from high school students taking extra grown, married, adult students.  And guess what?  We had to interact with them all!

At all other times in life, we are surrounded by all age groups, and we need to learn how to communicate with them.  When a school-age child is at home, he must know how to be around a crying baby or tantrum-throwing-toddler,as well as the elderly neighbor.  When at family gatherings, ages range again from infant to elderly.  And when out in public, you just never know who you may run into!  It helps to gain experience being social with all ages on a regular basis--not just being social with those the exact same age.  And yes, a child will learn a little of that after school, but the majority of their day/week/year, they are told to only communicate with kids their own age. 

Now, let me define socialization: 

Merriam-Webster says it this way:  "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".  

Socialization is learning the skills needed to become an adult.  

As a former teacher and administrator at a private school, I firmly believe that a child does not learn social skills from children the same age as they are who are there to also learn social skills.  If they are the same age and level of socialization, how and when and from where will they learn new skills?  Not from their same-age classmates.  That never--ever--happened in the classroom.

This week, I've learned from friends in different states that at their local public schools, the following rules have been implemented:

  • No talking at lunch (at a school in Texas and in Arkansas)
  • Recess removed (state unknown)
  • Lunchbox police (Illinois)
  • No playing "tag"--it was deemed an "act of aggression" (Illinois)
  • Children are not allowed to go outside to recess with one group of kids, and then move to a different group of kids while outside.  Basically, no making new friends.  (Illinois)
  • Girls not allowed to play with boys (state unknown)
  • Students made to stand against a wall silently when finished with their lunch (Arkansas)

Those rules just an example of some of the new policies at some public schools.  No, I am sure it isn't the case at ALL public schools right now, but things like that seem to find a way to spread, unfortunately, especially when they are all run by the same government.  

I share them with you today because so many times the "argument" for socialization ends up with one person saying public school does not allow for socialization either because they are not allowed to talk in class (which is true the majority of the time--they are in class to learn, not talk), and the other person says their public school student is socialized plenty, usually citing that lunch and recess as when they get to be social.

But as you can see in the rules mentioned above, even those opportunities are being taken away.  So even if a student could learn from children with the same social skills, now that chance is slowly being removed. 

I am a homeschooling parent, so of course, I advocate for home education.  This post is in no way telling you what to do with your child, but just to give you some things to really consider as you make the decision for where they will get their education, and their social skills.  

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