Monday, May 14, 2012

The Effects of Homeschooling on Socialization

Homeschooled children in the kitchen
Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Maureen Paradise

Why the debate about homeschooling and socialization?

A common criticism of homeschooling is that homeschool children will not be properly socialized and therefore will lack social skills.

So what is it about school that is so important for socialization? As kids develop psychologically they go though many stages. The stages vary depending on the psychologist you happen to be reading, but there is a basic pattern.

Kids are attached to their parents, then kids like to play around other kids (but not with them), then kids desire to make friends and play with the other kids (this is a simplified version of course).

So the concern with homeschooling is that with homeschooled children not leaving to go to school when they are five they will not have the opportunity to go through proper psychological development because they will not have the other children of similar age to interact with.

This of course means critics are assuming that homeschoolers lock their children in a room or chain them to a table making them do countless hours of school work and never letting them "socialize" with other children.

In reality, because of concern for the social development of their homeshooled children many parents overcompensate involving their children in many group activities, even more than their public school peers.

What is the effect of public school on socialization?

Take a walk through a public school and listen to the conversations that kids are having, or check out one of the millions of Facebook pages of today's students and you will most likely find yourself weeping for the future of mankind.

There are epidemics of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual pressure, bullying, and a culture that celebrates ignorance over intelligence and creativity. The public schools promote an environment that overemphasizes the importance of athletic achievement and downplays academic or creative endeavours.

Football and basketball players have rallies that celebrate their achievement whether or not they have a winning season, while exemplary performers in academics, music and art are lucky to receive a letter home acknowledging their accomplishments.

When a student puts forth a good effort in class the common ridicule is to be labeled a "try hard". Can you think something any more ignorant to demean someone for? Trying hard is now somehow something to be ashamed of.

This is the "Jersey Shore" Generation, a mindset that if you party, get drunk and make yourself sound as stupid as possible you can be rich and famous, trying hard and working for something is for chumps. That is the socialization that is taking place in public schools today.

Socialization is a pro for homeschooling not a con.

Homeschooling and socialization go hand in hand and give parents more say in their child's psychological development. What is wrong with choosing who your child associates with when they are young?

As a homeschool family you can join groups, go on playdates and of course your child can play kids in your neighborhood (after the public school kids finish their homework!). Educating your children at home does not mean they wont ever get to see other kids. They will probably get to interact even more. If I recall, most of the time kids got in trouble in my classes, it was for socializing!

Additionally socialization is public schools is not diverse. In a typical class you have 30 children all of the same age and socioeconomic background. These groupings delay maturity because the young student have no older students to emulate.

Homeschooled children interact with a much wider variety of people with diverse background and participate more within the community, you know the "real world". Public schools claim to be preparing students for the real world yet foster an environment that is nothing like it, where being bad at a sport is more important than being good at math or science.

The socialization debate is one that s long overdue to be turn on its head. Public schools should be asking "how can socialize our students in the way that homeschooled children are?"
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