Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Big Socialization Question

So here is the post I have procrastinated for a long time. The question I get asked the most is "well what about socialization?"
I will start out by saying that I am not going to sugar coat this post. This entry is completely how I feel. You can take it as you want and are free to leave comments, but just know that I am completely happy with the way my kids are at this very moment.  Happy, confident, extremely social children that know who they are and no amount of negative feedback will change my stance on this topic. Well, now that we have this out of the way I will continue. 
Now what I am about to say first is DEFINITELY going to ruffle some feathers. So what do I have to say about socialization? Well here goes . . . "It's not an issue because we're not raising socialists."(*)
           Now if you are a socialist than you can stop reading RIGHT NOW, because we are clearly NOT going to see eye to eye. But . . . if you are not a socialist then by all means PLEASE keep reading and hear me out. Let me first start out by sharing with you a couple definitions of socializing that I found. The first comes from the Collins English Dictionary
socialize, socialise [ˈsəʊʃəˌlaɪz]
1. (intr) to behave in a friendly or sociable manner
2. (Sociology) (tr) to prepare for life in society
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (tr) Chiefly US to alter or create so as to be in accordance with socialist principles, as by nationalization
socializable , socialisable adj
socializer , socialiser n

The other definition I found comes from Random House Dicitionary
so•cial•ize (ˈsoʊ ʃəˌlaɪz)

v. -ized, -iz•ing. v.t.
1. to make social; make fit for life in companionship with others.
2. to make socialistic; establish or regulate according to the theories of socialism.
3. to require student participation in: socialized instruction.
4. to associate or mingle sociably with others.

          So obviously I enlarged and bolded the parts of these definitions I found to be most interesting. For a very long time we have felt the schools are trying to take children and turn them into a collective. That everyone should be on the same level because we wouldn’t want to make anyone feel bad or hurt anyone’s feelings. What happened to the days that if you were behind in a subject you work extra hard until you improve? I’m pretty sure those days are long gone. I know that there are still some teachers out there that really do make an effort to push their students to work harder, but how much can we expect in a class of 30 and the very high probability of having to deal with disciplinary issues. So how realistic is this mentality of everyone should be on the same level be when they enter “the real world”?.  We all know that this just isn’t true.  So if you look under the first definition of socialization it states, to prepare for life in society, are we really accomplishing this in our schools?
          In our homeschool, I push my kids. I expect a lot from them. And because of that they are a year plus ahead in math. This is not because my eldest daughter is a math wiz. Trust me! She’s not! It’s because I have a high standard and she knows that I expect her to meet that standard and she has to work hard for it. On the flip side her younger sister is a math wiz. It has ALWAYS come easy for her and there is a good possibility that she will surpass her older sister. Should I hold her back at the risk of hurting her older sisters feelings? HECK NO!!! This is a subject she excels in. She knows it and her sister knows it. And they are both ok with it. My eldest happens to LOVE art and is much better and interested in all things artsy and is really good at it, where as her younger sister . . . not so much. But again we all know our weaknesses and our strengths and we continue to become stronger in our weaknesses and enjoy our strengths.
           So now that I covered the socialist side of socialization I’ll delve into what the rest of the world considers to be proper socialization.  I’m not exactly sure what people are thinking when asking the socialization question. I kind of feel like people think I hide my kids under a rock and don’t let them outside, at all. There are a lot of areas of socialization but I think the basic, main one is to have an understanding of how to behave appropriately in different situations and knowing how to interact with a wide variety of people. Public and private schools are big places where kids learn by trial and error. There main influences are their peers and their teachers.  Here are some social traits that I choose not to expose my children to: 
1.  Keeps Children Childish: kids learn to behave by imitation and there is a lot of pressure to conform in group settings. Locking kids in a room full of other kids during the better part of the day delays growing up by denying access to mature role models.
2.  Distracts from Learning: Do you think the main focus of school should be on learning? How difficult will it be for a child to concentrate if they are distracted by other student’s passing notes, texting on a cell phone, or if they are thinking about who has the latest designer sneakers?
3.  Teaches Disrespect for Others: Age segregation teaches children to dislike younger kids as well as older adults. The very act of creating a group based on the arbitrary factor of age produces this result. Psychology teaches that people tend to like members of their group and dislike members of other groups. When children spend the majority of their time in school it teaches them that the most important group consists of those that are the same age.
4.  Negative Moral Values: Some people feel that by sending their children to public school they will able to be a light to those in a troubled world. And I think that is true, but I also think there is a greater risk for them going the way of the world, especially as our society’s moral values seem to be falling into areas of gray rather than defined rights and wrongs. I often think of this image . . . if a my child was sitting on a train track and a train was coming would I just sit there and watch and hope they would get up and move to safety, or would I actively go and remove them and bring them to safety. Kids are exposed to more and more and a younger age and should I just stand by and HOPE that I have taught them enough in there few hours at home that they will be able to withstand the temptations of the world. My hope is that by having them at home I am giving them a more solid foundation so when they do go out into the real world they will know how to stand firm.

So back to the school setting, sometimes the teachers are there to guide them in how to act appropriately but most often they are too busy to guide them in how they should act. And lets get real here, people, sometimes even the teachers aren’t the best guides at how to act appropriately. I do want to take this moment though to say that there are great teachers out in the world. AMAZING teachers!!! But they can only do so much.

At home, I have the time, ability and opportunity to teach my children proper social skills. I can also put my kids in a variety of social settings than that of traditional public school.
So maybe I’ll take this moment to share different ways homeschooled kids can learn “proper” social skills. I found these on an online article and they are exactly what we do and how we feel so here goes.
            1.Start at home. In any family, homeschooled or otherwise, good social skills should begin early and in the home. As soon as your baby is born, he is observing the world around him. And while he is very young, that world is typically the confines of your house. Begin early by modeling good social behavior at home. Treat each other with respect, and he will soak up that information immediately. As he gets older and can communicate, you can correct his behaviors and instruct him directly as to how to treat his siblings, parents, and other people.
            2.Join homeschool groups and co-ops. There are many benefits to joining up with a group of like-minded homeschoolers. You can share resources, expensive equipment, expertise, and time. As for socializing, working with other homeschoolers gives your kids the opportunity to make friends. Being around other kids is a crucial part of your children’s social development. With a homeschool co-op, you get to control the type of friends your kids make. You can avoid the bad influences over which you have no control in a public school setting.
            3.Meet the neighbors. Even if you live in a very rural area, you surely have some neighbors. Encourage your kids to get out there and meet their peers. Even if the other kids go to school during the day, there is no reason they cannot get together to play in the afternoons or on weekends. Socializing with kids who are schooled traditionally can offer a good chance for your kids to learn about how other people live. It may also give them an appreciation for being homeschooled.
            4.Play sports. Joining a sports team is an excellent way for kids to make friends and to stay active. You may be able to find homeschooling sports leagues, but you can also join up with your local community teams. Playing sports helps your kids learn to play well with others, follow rules, and deal with conflicts that inevitably will arise.
            5.Volunteer. To get your kids out into the real world to experience different types of people and varied social situations, volunteer work is a great idea. With your flexible schedule, you have the chance to take your kids out to do volunteer work that other children can’t do because of school. They get to meet more adults and can practice their social skills in new situations. And, of course, volunteer work is also an excellent way to instill values of compassion and service.
            6.Get part-time jobs. Another way to get your older children into real world settings is paid work. Your teenagers can benefit greatly from working a few hours a week. They have the flexibility in their schedules to consider different types of jobs. Working further teaches your kids social skills by putting them into yet another situation in which such skills are needed. While other kids are sitting in the same old classroom, your child could be earning and learning.
            7.Join church groups. Your church is an outstanding source for social activities. Your children can make friends who are being raised with the same values and beliefs. Look for bible study classes, youth ministry groups, and even missionary trips. Any group organized by your church is worthwhile for your children’s socialization.
8.Spend time with grandma and grandpa. Another opportunity you have with    your flexible homeschooling schedule is to give your kids more time with their grandparents. Your parents and your in-laws are a great resource, not just for socializing, but also for valuable lessons in values, respect, and history. They have so much to teach your children about their life experiences.

         So all of these ideas are great ways homeschooled kids to become well rounded and socialized. Being homeschooled doesn’t mean you should lock yourselves up at home, bolt the doors and never leave. And you shouldn’t. Kids need to have friends their own age and also experience time away from their parents to learn some independence and how to socialize on their own. Give them a good solid foundation at home and then let them experience different situations and make new friends.
         I hope this has shown you some valid points in why we choose not to let public schools teach our children socialization and why we choose to teach our kids that subject at home. My kids have PLENTY of time to mingle with other kids as well as adults and I truly feel they are better because of it. And I just want to say that I am not trying to say that homeschooling is for everyone by writing this post. I mainly wrote this to address the socialization question that I receive time and time again. And I hope it gets you thinking and maybe not be so quick to say, “Well, what about socialization?”
         So in conclusion, I just want to sum it up by saying this post is solely based on what I know from having attended public school and what I hear other parents complaining about what their children experience in public schools. I could be completely off base since my kids have never been in public school. But what I do know is that the moral decline in society is very real and that teachers are increasingly becoming a replacement for parents and I might go as far as saying they take that role to be more important than educator. We have personally chosen to keep our children at home and be the main influence in their lives while still exposing them to great experiences outside our home to learn how to be wonderful assets to society when they grow up.

*I received some of this information via various websites, however over the course of the several days it’s taken me to write this post I can’t find where those links are. So if I used your information, Thanks! 


  1. Well said. But being your mother, I would expect nothing less!!

  2. Very nicely written. Whenever I tell people that I am planning to homeschool "socialization" is the first question they always ask about. I still haven't made up my mind yet, hopefully by September I will know:). Thanks for your insights.

  3. way to go!
    I was one of "those" people YEARS ago that was concerned about homeschooling kids. I had known some really interesting kids that were homeschooled, BUT there is a reason for all of that. (I won't get into that here ;)
    I think that if you, as the parent, are putting your kids out there in positive circles and are being what a parent should be...your kids will turn out BETTER than public school children.
    I have seen that first hand. My kids are not homeschooled, yet, but every day I 2nd guess my decision to send them to school. Hopefully I'll get my ducks in a row and make the change for my children's benefit!

  4. Thanks for the comment Katie! We were "those" parents too! :) We didn't want our kids to be "those" kids. But after a lot of prayer I couldn't ignore the feeling that I was having. I even remember a time thinking "DANG IT! Alright, I'll do it!" But I'm so glad I did it! It's not always easy, but the good days FAR outweigh the bad days. Good luck though on trying to make a decision. It's not always an easy one!

  5. I homeschool my middle school age son but not the others. Sometimes his big sister teases him that he is socially awkward, but that is not true. In the eyes of the world, maybe, but he is more aware of how his old friends are being corrupted by pressure to swear, play M games, and be dishonest. He is still current on popular music, has a paper route, and he benefited the most when the grandparents came for a month.

    I once read a great analogy. You wouldn't send your child to the grocery store to learn about nutrition, so why would you expect them to learn social skills from their peers at school?

    Thanks for being such a good example!

  6. I LOVE that analogy Teresa! It's so true! My kids are also aware of popular music, movies and such, but it's a lot easier for us to teach them whats right and wrong while in our home vs. being taught what the world thinks is right at school! Thanks so much for the comment!

  7. I SOOOOOOOOO agree!!!! Growing up as homeschoolers we were always asked that too....I assure you, all 8 of us are VERY sociable, and quite comfortable being around any age group. :)


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