If you have been homeschooling for any period of time, you have certainly encountered questions about socialization. Friends and neighbors furrow their brows in consternation and ask: But how do you socialize them? Less tactful friends and neighbors go so far as to ask: Aren’t you afraid that they’ll grow up weird?
To answer this question, consider the dictionary.com definition of socialization:
A continuing process by which an individual:
- acquires a personal identity; and
- learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
1. Is school the best place to acquire a personal identity?
At school, your child will be one of 25 students in a class of peers, selected to be together based on their year of birth. They will all be taught the same content, based on standards set by the government. And the teacher will get to know them as well as possible for 180 days, after which they will move on to another teacher.
At home, your child is taught by a teacher with all the passion and commitment of the mother — or father — who has given life to that child. You choose the curriculum; you control the method of instruction, based on your child’s own skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. You tailor your content and methods to suit your child – and you have a much smaller classroom to manage. Even if you’re a Duggar, your homeschool class squeezes in below the average school class size!
Which environment would you say offers the best opportunity to a child for the development of his or her personal identity?
2. Is school the best place to learn norms, values, behavior and social skills?
School sets up an environment of peers who are all exactly the same age, and generally from a similar socio-economic demographic. This is probably the only time in their lives that their entire peer group will consist of such a homogeneous sample. Homeschooled children, who have the opportunity to interact in broader society (while their schooled peers are cooped up in the classroom), actually have the advantage as far as being able to develop appropriate behavior for their later social position.
Furthermore, at school, you are entrusting the social skills training of your precious little nose-picking, emotionally immature 6-year-old, to a group of twenty-five other nose-picking, emotionally immature 6-year-olds, with only one adult to supervise. Safe to say you can do at least as good a job of teaching social skills, with their siblings at home, and in the broader community.
So how do you socialize your homeschooled child?
First, by keeping them out of a classroom that stifles their personal identity. Second, by keeping them from developing the norms, values, behavior and social skills of that artificial classroom world.
Perhaps you should turn the tables on those who ask you this question: How do you socialize your institutionally-schooled child?