Homeschooling is often accused of being bad for a child’s socialization. This assumption is made because people don't understand the definition of socialization.
Socialization is the process by which we learn and internalize the values and expectations of our culture so that we may fulfill our roles. This is a never ending process. For instance, the role of a child at Christmas is different than that of a parent, and both are different from that of a Grandparent.
What people usually call socialization, the ability to interact well with others, is actually acquired social skills and interpersonal skills (there is a slight difference between those two as well).
How Homeschoolers Teach Socialization
So truthfully, both modes of education socialize our kids. Of course, it is minimally different subcultures but the same overarching culture.
My kids eat American food, watch YouTube, and keep up with trends like fidget spinners and video games.
However, they won’t have peers teaching them that’s it’s uncool to play with younger siblings or pressure them to act or dress certain ways.
Before I go any further, I want to be very clear. School, public or private, is not evil. It does a great service to our nation. I also don’t want to control my children’s every move or thought. However, I also don’t want to compete with immature, intellectually underdeveloped children to socialize my kids.
Homeschoolers fully take advantage of our ability to socialize our children and value our ability to be the primary influence on it.
We create a home culture and socialize our kids to it. “Home Culture” is the atmosphere we strive for in our homes, and it starts with us, the parents.
Think about what your home is like at any given time?
Is everyone glued to a screen (yes, this happens at our house, we are not a technology adverse family). Is there fighting or screaming?
Are the kids expected to help each other, with chores, or do they ignore each other? Do you spend time with your kids cooking?
Do you enjoy your home? Is it a place you can relax and be productive?
I think very intently on what our home culture is like and even wrote aFamily Mission Statement to give us a clear picture of what we are striving for. We want to emphasize education, entrepreneurship, cleanliness, the dignity of work, cooperation, character, and connection.
So how do I turn this abstract plan into a culture?
I make these things part of our daily life.
I model it as much as I can. I read tirelessly.
I am always sharing tidbits or interesting facts of what I read.
I weave science into daily life.
Someone doesn’t want to drink water before basketball? Let me count the ways the body uses water. . . .
I talk about our cultural expectations constantly, whether my kids understand fully is inconsequential.
They are learning, and it’s a never ending process; however, I don’t praise their results. I praise their work.
I stick to my guns. For example, I only take clean kids places. I ask who wants to go. Those that do, get a bath first. No bath, no go.
I set the example. If I lose my temper, if I hurt someone’s feelings, if I accidentally step on someone’s foot. I apologize.
Media is a launching point for conversations. We discuss how what we watch or see relates to our expectations. Is that character diligent? Did he do the right thing?
We spend time together focusing on connection and shared experiences. Spending time together working is as important as play. We cook together. Clean together. Do school together. We are together.
A strong home culture ensures that kids know what is expected of them. That in turn helps everyone avoid the stress of misbehavior. It builds a feeling of community and trust that we feel joy in the presence of each other.
My experience is that by making our home culture a significant part of our day, everyday, my kids have internalized it quite easily.
We have less behavior issues because my kids think it’s just a part of life. They know what is expected. They see cleaning as just another part of life.
Education isn’t just school. They know that learning to cook, clean, compromising, and everyday conversations all contribute to their education. It’s not separate. It’s life.
Establishing a home culture takes vision, time, effort, communication, and repetition, but the effort is well worth the result. Kids that grow into adults who are moral and hardworking who don’t cave to peer pressure.
What about Interpersonal Skills?
How do homeschooled kids learn simple social/interpersonal skills like sharing, taking turns and more complex behaviors like empathy and consideration?
First of all it is a myth that you must attend school to learn any social skills. Like socialization, learning social skills is a never ending process that starts at birth.
Many social and interpersonal skills are learned through day to day interaction. Each interaction has the potential to teach, and each is valuable.
Interacting with anyone, their siblings or cousins, friends, babysitters, grandparents are great opportunities to practice and learn social skills.
I would argue that homeschooled kids have more opportunity to practice these skills than traditionally schooled kids. Homeschoolers spend less time listening and doing busy work and way more time interacting than school kids.
In my experience, school was mostly: sit and listen, sit and read, sit and color, and very little group work. Our time to socialize was limited to before and after the bell, during lunch, recess, and break if we got one.
Next, I would like to distinguish between real play and interaction, and forced socialization. Forced socialization is what schools practice. All those kids don't really have a choice about what school to go to.
They aren't grouped by interests or abilities, rather geography and age.
Last, I would like to point out that there were not public schools for the majority of human history, and people were still socialized to their culture and learned appropriate social and interpersonal skills for thousands of years.