What did I learn this week?

Socialization 101

I know that it is ALWAYS the first question, but what are people actually asking when they say to me, “If your kids are being homeschooled, how will they ever get socialized?”  I don’t know about anyone else, but before I started telling people that I planned to homeschool, I only ever heard people speak of socialization in terms of puppies, feral cats, and animals being returned to the wild.  Granted, my children have been known to act like all of these things at times, but, generally speaking, they can pass as age appropriately semi-civilized humans.

But seriously.  I have been giving some real thought to what people are truly concerned about when it comes to the question of how children who are homeschooled become “socialized.”  I have said before how much I liked Rachel Gathercole’s book, The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling, and how useful Corey has found it in providing some thoughtful responses.  The immediate concern for most people appears to be along the lines of how will my children learn to get along with others if they are not forced to be part of a group at school?

Good question.  Luckily for me, my children live in a happy and secure family group.  For anyone who thinks, well, that’s easy, learning to get along with your family doesn’t count, I suggest you take a moment.  Learning to live in close quarters with other people who all have their own personalities, foibles, strengths, weaknesses, irritating and endearing qualities, is in fact probably the BEST way to learn to get along with other people.  Families, in an ideal sense, provide a safe environment for working out appropriate responses in a variety of situations and for learning to contribute to the well-being of others.  As members of a family, children learn to enjoy the happiness life can bring, and also how to cope with adversity.  In short, they provide a backdrop in which children can safely practice the art of being human and the skill of living as positive member of human society. That, of course, is the ideal, but in the case of my family and my children, I believe it applies.

Beyond the experience of the family, however, there is of course the experience of interaction on a daily basis with the rest of the people who live around us.  It has been said that a person who lives in a literate household in a literate society is bound to become literate themselves simply by exposure.  I would say the same thinking certainly applies to children who live and interact with other people day in and day out, that is, there is simply no way that they would NOT learn how to get along with others.  In fact, as many others have pointed out, the social environment of a school is not only unique and unrealistic when compared to everyday life outside of school, it is not by any means the best environment in which to learn and practice the some of the most desirable of qualities in any “socialized” person: empathy, kindness, and compassion toward others.

Do I believe that homeschooling will help my children develop these qualities? Of course I do. Why else would I be doing all of this?

One Response to “Socialization 101”

  1. Ah yes, the socialization question. If I had a nickel for every time that came up…lol. Nicely said, btw.

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