I recently was sitting at the YMCA and chatting with a teacher when he asked where my children went to school. When I replied that my children were homeschooled, he asked the same question that everyone has when they find out I homeschool my children… “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”
I don’t know why that is the first question people ask, but it is. Homeschooling is a rapidly growing trend and there are tons of support groups, enrichment programs, and opportunities for social engagement for your students. Not only are homeschooled children not locked away in a bubble, kept from the world; they are usually actively participating in multiple field trips each month and attending weekly enrichment or tutorial classes. Homeschool students also typically participate in sports, scouting, art and music lessons, church activities, day and sleep away camps, community volunteerism, and other social events and activities. In addition, technology has made it possible for homeschool students to interact with teachers and students in online class settings and Facetime or Skype with friends when they are finished with school work.
After talking with a friend about this conversation, her response was “well, what type of socialization are we talking about here? After all, ‘socialization’ isn’t always a blessing.” And that got me thinking even more about the question of peers and socialization. I, for one, am quite happy that my children are mostly around adults. While we do have our bouts of pre-teen hormones and everything that entails, the attitude that my children have lost over the last two years is worth anything that they may gain attending public school and experiencing peer pressure. No longer do I have to worry about what all the other kids are wearing, doing, saying, and watching. I don’t have complaints that “all the other kids get to play M-rated video games” or “but all my friends get to watch R-rated movies”. Mostly because their friends don’t do those things but also because they don’t know what all the other kids are doing.
While I wasn’t homeschooled as a child, I did grow up overseas during my formative years. My brother and I only had each other. We attended school, but because we moved so frequently, I never felt the need to make peer friends. After all, my attitude was “Why? I am going to move in 6 months anyway.” Unlike me, my children have the benefit of technology. If their friends move, they have options to stay connected. Just because I didn’t make life long connections as a child doesn’t mean I feel I was cheated out of anything. I don’t think I’m weird. I am married, have kids, own a business and volunteer in my community. For me, being around adults as a child was a benefit, one I wouldn’t trade for hanging out with my peers.
The great thing about homeschooling is that, like just about anything else in this life, the more you put into it the more you get out of it. Most of the homeschooled children I know and meet are well adjusted members of society. If you homeschool a social butterfly, don’t worry; there are lots of opportunities for your butterfly to connect with peers. My children spend 3 days a week with peers and other homeschooled children and they lead very busy pre-teen lives. I’m not worried about their socialization. I think they’re turning out just fine.