This is a very common question posed to homeschool parents and although I know many find it annoying, I think it’s an opportunity to share part of our world with the general public. My general response is that my children are actively involved in scouting, church, and spend as much time as possible playing with the kids in our neighborhood. In addition, we have five children, so they get a great deal of socialization at home!
That said, I can understand why people might question this because we have been told repeatedly that this is the purpose of the large schools in every community, to educate and socialize our children. The issue though is that so many parents believe kids are socializing at school and they really aren’t. Academics is the main focus of schools and social/moral lessons are left to the parents at home. With the standards placed on our kids at even the lowest levels, there is no time for socialization. Your child MUST learn to read by the end of Kindergarten or will be held back. Teachers face a tremendous hurtle to meet that goal and often social time is limited in favor of academics. So, really, this question of, “What about socialization?” is one that I think applies to all kids!
So, what are we doing to “socialize” our kids? Well, for starters, let’s dive into that word for a moment.
“Socialize” has two main definitions:
- to mix, mingle, and get together with people
- to make someone behave in a society acceptable way
I think the confusion comes when the parents expect definition #1 and schools provide definition #2. Don’t get me wrong, school administrators are charged with a difficult task, managing hundreds of students moving through the school every day. Keeping all of these children safe is a HUGE responsibility and it’s the reason for the extensive list of rules governing the school. The problem with this governing is that it allows our children ZERO freedom and gives parents little to no control over their educational experience. And generally speaking, expected “society acceptable behavior” for children is still that they be quiet, calm, and attentive in class. For anyone who has been around children, you can imagine how challenging it can be to instill that much order over 20-30 kids at one time. A great deal of a teacher’s job is restoring order and addressing behavior problems.
The difference for homeschooled children is that the already established parent-child relationship and shared expectations reduces stress on the child, increasing cooperative behavior. Also, in homeschools, the teacher/student ratio is significantly lower, averaging around 2 to 3 students per teacher/parent. This allows for a more relaxed learning atmosphere, fewer distractions, and a more efficient use of work time, meaning homeschooled students typically finish their work in a much shorter period of time, giving them the freedom to explore hobbies, interests, and extra-curricular activities. If anything, homeschoolers have MORE time to socialize than students in schools.