It is perhaps the most common objection to homeschooling: what about socialization? For some people, the very idea of homeschooling conjures up images of homely kids who lack social skills and are lost in their own nerdy thoughts. Perhaps you’ve even met a few homeschooled misfits who have confirmed your suspicions.
If you’re interested in homeschooling but fear your kids will turn out to be social weirdos, here are some facts to consider…
Fact #1: Public school churns out socially awkward people, too.
Homeschooling doesn’t have the market cornered on socially awkward kids. Anyone who went to public school can tell you they met their fair share of kids who lacked social skills, and yet these kids were surrounded in all the peer socialization they could handle.
Fact #2: Homeschooling isn’t anti-social. It offers a different kind of socialization.
Dr. Larry Shyers studied the social development test scores of 8-10-year-olds: half of them homeschooled, the other half attending either public or private schools. Not only did he find that the homeschooled children do not lag behind in social development, he found that homeschoolers have consistently fewer behavior problems.
Dr. Shyers concluded that proper social development “depends more on adult contact and less on contact with other children as previously thought.” Instead of modeling their behavior after their peers, homeschoolers tend to model their behavior after their parents.1
In other words, socially adept parents leads to socially adjusted kids.
Fact #3: Homeschooling frees parents to involve their kids in many social opportunities.
“Homeschooling” is a misnomer, in some ways. Perhaps it communicates the idea of wallflowers sitting alone at home with the curtains drawn, noses in their books. But for many homeschooling families, this is far from their experience.
Because homeschooling doesn’t have to take as long per day as public or private schooling, this frees up time to be involved in other community activities, programs, co-ops, and volunteerism. Far from feeling isolated, many children who are homeschooled are integrated into their communities.
Fact #4: Homeschoolers, by in large, are well adjusted folks.
Dr. Susan McDowell, in her book, But What About Socialization?, examined 24 studies about the socialization of homeschoolers, concluding that none of the research indicates that homeschooled kids are socially deficient. She concludes, “All the research shows children are doing well.”
Some studies on the socialization of homeschoolers focus on children’s “self-concept,” which is a key indicator for self-esteem and an ability to successfully interact with others. Using the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, one study compared 224 homeschooled children with 1,183 conventionally schooled children. The study found that 50% of homeschoolers score above the 90th percentile, and only 10.3% score below the national average.2
Everything is just fine.
The concern that homeschooling, by itself, turns children into social weirdos is overblown. Granted, there are better and worse ways to homeschool children—but with some intentionality, most kids in homeschooling communities grow up to be socially well adjusted people.
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