No loving parent wants their child to be socially awkward so how does a child learn socialization skills when they are homeschooled?
First, lets start with a definition. What is socialization? For many people the term socialization brings to mind children playing together on a school playground or teens hanging out at a football game. Is this an accurate picture of socialization though?
Socialization can be defined as “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.” (Merriam-Webster online medical dictionary)
Notice that socialization is the process of developing beliefs, gathering knowledge and learning social habits and behaviors for the purpose of becoming an adult. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure a group of 8 year old girls isn’t going to help my daughter learn the social manners of an adult woman. I also doubt that throwing my two sons into a room full of 15 year old boys all day is going to aid them in acquiring the knowledge and habits of responsible, mature men. If socialization is meant to prepare our children for adulthood then what better place to socialize them than around adults!
Learning Good Behavior
Public (or private) school is probably the only time you will ever be in the same room with 20 to 30 people the exact same age as you. Hardly preparation for adulthood. In contrast, homeschooling provides numerous opportunities for a child to interact with people of all ages. While children in traditional school settings are being conformed to the behavior of their peers, homeschool students are being socialized in the manners, beliefs and knowledge of the adults around them.
Homeschooling also provides more occasions for positive socialization instead of the negative socialization that comes with putting large numbers of children together all day. Of course, homeschooling your child doesn’t mean he or she will completely avoid negative socialization. My six children experience negative socialization every day as they interact with each other at home or play with friends at the park! The difference is that I am close by and able to walk my children through how to handle conflict correctly.
Peer Interaction with Outside Activities
Homeschool kids don’t just interact with adults though. It’s good to remember that most homeschoolers are involved in numerous extra-curricular activities outside of the home where they have ample time to interact with their own peers and build friendships. Plus most kids spend time playing in their neighborhoods or at the park with other children as well.
Homeschoolers Better Socialized
Several studies have been done that show how homeschooling a child in no way hinders his or her interaction with peers. In fact, a study done in 1992 by Dr. Larry Shyers, comparing a group of children who were home-schooled with a group of children from public and private schools, showed that not only were the home-schooled children not lagging behind socially but they also had fewer behavior problems. Dr. Shyers states, “The results seem to show that a child’s social development depends more on adult contact and less on contact with other children as previously thought.”
Research of adults who were homeschooled also point to the benefits of homeschooling on socialization. The research suggests that home-schooled adults, on average, are more likely to attend college and be involved in community and civic affairs. (Homeschooling Grows Up)
The positive social experiences that children gain from homeschooling seems to suggest that homeschoolers got this socialization thing covered! If you are concerned about the socialization of your child then perhaps that’s a good reason to homeschool!
For additional reading on the benefits of homeschooling on socialization, especially in regards to teens, check out the pamphlet “The Best Kind of Socialization.”
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