Socialization – what’s the big deal?

So your homeschooled children won’t know the current trends in movies, music, and fashion. So they may not be the talkative ones at the party. (Then again, they may be. My homeschooled seven-year-old couldn’t stop talking if his life depended on it! And he even talks to strangers every chance he gets.)

The thing is, if your children come from a Christian family, they shouldn’t be listening to or watching the same things as the rest of the world anyway – homeschooled or not.

Aside from modern trends, what else will they miss out on by staying home? Basically, they aren’t going to learn to raise their hands before speaking (unless they go to Sunday School or a homeschool co-op), or stand in line (unless they ever happen to visit a grocery store). They won’t learn to work as a team (unless they have brothers and sisters or cousins or friends), and they’ll never learn to get on with people their own age (which they will really need to learn if they ever want to…um…what? Attend a public school? – Sorry, it was the only scenario I could think of to use that particular skill.)

What about all of the public school kids who are socially backwards? No one ever says, “Don’t let your kids get too interested in math and science; it will turn them into geeks, and they won’t get invited to parties. How else will they socialize?” No, people realize that our society benefits from people who get wrapped up in their own projects and obsessions, especially in the fields of medicine, mathematics, electronics, and any of the sciences. We need a few more people who can focus on their passions. Parents are proud of their focused, albeit shy, children. The world looks on and says, “To each his own…unless you homeschool…then you’re depriving your children.”

No one ever says, “Don’t send your kids to public school; what if they become a Goth or a drug-pusher?” No, I think that this whole socialization issue was just fabricated because it was the only thing people could think of that was even remotely wrong with the idea of homeschooling. And I don’t think it’s wrong at all. Besides, most homeschooling families are large enough that the children learn to socialize as a matter of course. On top of that, this whole idea of socialization needing to happen at school is a relatively new concept. People used to keep their children at home and train them in a trade. And they were way more social back then. Between church functions, barn raisings, dinner parties, visiting, etc, nearly every child learned to function in society. Even more important, they learned to run and raise a family.

What is the greatest barrier to socialization today? Not homeschooling, but entertainment. I see couples out to dinner where both of them are playing with their iPhones instead of speaking to each other. I have known a few people to sit through a family get-together totally engrossed in a magazine or a hand-held video game device the entire time. When the family gets home after work/school each evening, what is usually the first thing to happen? The television gets turned on. Then we proceed to ignore and shush our kids for the remainder of the evening. When they ask us to play a board game with them, we say, “I don’t have time.” Do they see us as the liars we really are? Okay, well, now I’m just ranting, but I think you see my point(s).

  1. There are plenty of socialization opportunities out there, free for the taking. It doesn’t matter where you go to school.
  2. Why is socialization so freakishly important, anyway? Introverts still get married and have families, friends, jobs, etc.
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16 responses to “Socialization – what’s the big deal?

  1. This can become a very serious stumbling block in some families, like mine. We’ve almost had to completely cut contact with my brother and parents over this subject. They chose not to “know” us. They think because my teen sons don’t have cell phones, FB pages and unsupervised internet, that we live some kind of unhealthy fantasy life and we are damaging our kids. To the point when we would be around them they would try to completely undermine us by the constant “questioning” of our parenting choices. They refuse to understand our Christian values and have convinced themselves that we are some kind of Christian homeschooling cult weirdo’s. Their “pressure” toward our children to become “worldly” like them came to a head this Christmas and my hubby decided we were done. What kind of grandparent purposely tries to trip up their grandchildren! Our boys have been in karate, music lessons, homeschool co-op, church and plenty of other places to be “socialized”. My parents often comment on how well behaved and mannered our boys are but refuse to acknowledge the parenting that led them there. My advice to parents… it’s your God given duty to shelter your littles and be particular about who they are “socialized” around in those impressionable years. For parents of teens… they need their horizons expanded enough to learn what’s out there but you still want them to “socialize” with like minded people of value.

    • Sherri, that’s so sad to hear about your family. It would be nice if folks would just let people raise their own kids, wouldn’t it? Perhaps in a few years, when your boys have families of their own, your family will realize how well-adjusted they are. Besides, your parents couldn’t have had cell phones, FB, or internet when they were young, so why do they believe that those things are necessary for raising “normal” children? If “normal” means “cookie-cutter,” then I want nothing to do with it.

      • Hello, to you, Amy, and also to Sherri,
        We, also, had to withdraw from our families. The drive to expose our children to wickedness was so strong in them, they just could not be trusted alone with our children. This ended plans to “stay with grandma and grandpa for the summer” and many other delightul SOUNDING activities you would never guess could be so horrific. Our children, themselves, did not want to continue and told us of how bad it was, very close to harrassment and molestation, just because they did not get that at school and might need to know how to face it in life.
        They DID know how to deal with it–tell mom and dad.
        We were so sad to break off with our own families, but how to explain to them their thinking was upside-down? They still don’t get it, although our oldest is now over 40 and the baby is 22. The extended families are FILLED with broken marriages and other social missteps, but STILL, home schooling is only, in their eyes, dangerous.
        We just stand amazed.
        Hard not to be like the Pharisee that said, “I thank God I am not like them . . . ” except we know we would be JUST like that, except for the grace God gave us to see the benefits of pulling out. And we are so thankful.

      • That’s so sad, Kathy. At least your children understood. It would have been so much harder if they hadn’t.

  2. Great article, Amy. You said, “What is the greatest barrier to socialization today? Not homeschooling, but entertainment.” Point very well taken. Blessings! Kimberly

    • Thanks, Kimberly!
      I’m so very glad you enjoyed this article. I have frequently been guilty of ignoring my own son in the evenings, due to trying to watch something on television. But he is so much more important to me! I wonder how we get our priorities crossed?

  3. Ironically, I was a way more social person during my homeschooling youth than I have been since my community college years. I didn’t find a structured classroom to be conducive to socializing at all, because class time wasn’t party time — it was sit there and do your work time. I actually started to learn to resent people talking to me, because we were supposed to be paying attention to the teacher, not chatting and making friends. It simply wasn’t the time and place.
    And having worked in an elementary school, I’ve seen that it’s the same deal there. No talking in the classroom, no talking in the halls, a “silent lunch” policy… Where’s the socialization in that? If people are worried about their kids having the opportunity to make friends, public school is among the last places to send them!

    • I was just talking to my husband about that last night. I told him what I posted yesterday, and was thinking about how much more socialization homeschoolers get than traditionally schooled children. Sure, at public schools you can talk during recess, and sometimes lunch (although I spent 75% of my lunch period in the lunch line everyday – I went to a public school for 1-1/4 years), but that’s about it, unless you are involved in extra-curricular activities. I would venture to say that most homeschoolers spend enough time with other homeschoolers that they actually get to socialize more within the course of a week. (Whether it’s in the setting of a co-op or with their own brothers and sisters at home.) I know that the two homeschool co-ops I have belonged to specifically scheduled downtime so our kids could interact outside of a classroom setting.

  4. socialization . . . a pet topic of mine.

    For what other skill do we put a group of peers together, all of whom need the same skill, and expect them to acquire it from each other? Good socialization requires that the skills be taught at home, practiced there, and only once they are actually learned, can they be applied effectively in a peer environment.

    When we fail to teach first, we see cliques, bullying, fighting, teasing, and abuse come from all these children, who lack social skills, trying to learn from one another. These are not social skills I want my child to learn or acquire.

    That’s the short version of my take on socialization. I have been a teacher in a classroom environment. I have two little boys of my own – and I can see exactly how failure to learn social skills at home resulted in some of the problems I encountered in the classroom. Socialization is NOT best learned in a school environment. There are too many children per adult to teach it well, and too few good role models in such an environment.

  5. I can see your point! It’s kind of like teaching children to hunt by giving them guns and knives and sending them off into the woods together, isn’t it?

  6. Ha! Yes, Amy! Funny you, but it’s not so funny, is it. 😐
    At home, we teach them HOW TO SOCIALIZE, like swimming lessons.
    Quite different from the sink-or-swim socialization they get in the social pool, where the drowning ones cling to and drown those around them, while they wait for rescue.
    Better just to rescue your own before they, too, drown.
    And teach them . . .

  7. Oh, but–the REAL big deal about “socialization” is NOT teaching them how to socialize.
    It’s teaching them how to be socialists.
    That is the real (insidious) goal.

  8. Just read this article on the subject, written by a homeschooling teen:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-living/ci_19871105

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