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What About Socialization?

If only homeschoolers had a nickel for every time they heard the question, "...but what about socialization?" I'd be rich! That infamous socialization question, for any seasoned homeschooler, is quite a humorous one!

Although non-homeschoolers worry that homeschooling may turn children into social misfits, we know that the opposite is true and the positive socialization is one of the best reasons to homeschool your children.

August 19, 2009

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For centuries, children have learned socialization within the context of their own family and community. Institutionalized education is relatively new to the human condition. It is, and it always has been, through the home environment, that children learn the vast majority of their socialization skills.

Research supports this.  According to Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, "Home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with--and feel close to--all sorts of people."

He continues, "Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this. For, with their children's long-term social development in mind, they actively encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society."

This and other studies support the irony of the socialization issue in homeschooling that we have known for years, which is that traditional schools are actually more on a path of de-socialization.  In traditional schools students learn to stay in a class to which they've been assigned and are grouped according to age and academic level, and generally with students from the same geographic area and socio-economic background.

So in a sense, as I like to say, many people are homeschooling because of socialization reasons.

I remember my daughter, while she was in a traditional school, getting in trouble because she wanted to talk to her friends in class and the teacher kept saying 'We're not here to socialize, young lady." The structure and reality of traditional schools are teaching students to be passive and compliant, which can follow the children throughout life.  Children can learn to take abuse, to ignore miserable bosses or abusive spouses later on.  In a traditional school someone else usurps authority.

This is where homeschooling comes in.  Kids in homeschooling develop self-confidence and self-esteem; they learn to deal with difficult people when they are developmentally ready.  When they are ready to go out into the world they know they have choices, a foundation developed in homeschooling.

So, the big question in homeschooling socialization is "Who do we want them learning life skills from?  Caring adults, or peers who don't know any more than they do?"

In other words, socialization in homeschooling works better because children have more opportunities to be socialized through the modeling of good social behavior by caring adults rather than through peers, who do not know much more than they do.   Parents give their kids the skills they need to interact with other people and also have the chance to protect their children.

Now what about the good stuff like Prom and Graduation? Many non-homeschoolers ask if I feel that I am depriving my daughter of these experiences. However, my daughter both participated in Prom and Graduation—they were just not organized by the state or a school. Many states and homeschool organizations have established proms and graduations for homeschoolers and a homeschooling family can even create their own private way to celebrate rites of passage. 

Homeschoolers get to participate in organized spelling and geography bees, math leagues, and science clubs that give them a chance to compete academically; and swimming, soccer, baseball and other sports also allow them to interact with their peers in athletic competition.

Even scouting, 4-H, and other activities are community-based and open to anyone. In short, Homeschoolers are provided with a variety of choices for socialization. 

Because Socialization is so important, The Keystone School, would like to provide you with some useful ideas for helping your children find socialization opportunities:

  • Get connected with homeschooling support groups, both state and local organizations.(Homeschool.com's complete list of local homeschooling support groups can be found here). Specifically, find a local support group – one that provides activities and/or classes for students, not just support for parents.
  • Similarly, get connected with a homeschool co-op. A co-op is a group of families that meet together to provide their children educational opportunities. Usually the parents teach the classes and everyone assists/lends a helping hand. Homeschool co-ops provide a way to enrich your children's education and enjoy a little homeschool socialization at the same time.
  • Participate in less structured homeschool family get-togethers. Get-togethers by definition are socialization experiences!
  • Go on local field trips with your children. Meet people in all walks of life--broaden your children's horizons. Combine learning and socialization into one activity.
  • Get your children involved in their community. Have them engage in community sport leagues, scouting, 4-H, community plays, etc.
  • Similarly, inquire about volunteering opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to socialize. There may be age restrictions, but some organizations allow a parent to accompany a child volunteer.
  • Look into Camps.  Camps are a wonderful chance for socialization.
  • Enroll your children in an online school such as Keystone. In addition to academics, Keystone provides socialization opportunities for your all homeschooling children enrolled in their programs.

The Keystone community provides your children the opportunity to:

  • Interact with teachers and peers. Each online course contains its own teacher-moderated discussion board where students are able to interact with their peers, discussing things like their homework and class topics, or their interests and hobbies. Keystone serves students all around the world, and students can interact with other students from different countries and cultures or even in different languages. The variety of students and personalities in the Keystone program makes it easy to meet interesting people with similar or different interests, which leads to a rich interactive experience among the student body.
  • Be involved with the Keystone Connection — Keystone's online student-produced newspaper serves as the voice of the Keystone student body. Your children can work with other students, express their opinions, and write articles to share with the Keystone community at large.
  • Join the Student Association — The Keystone Student Association enables like-minded students to join together for discussions about personal experiences and ideas for improving their local as well as the global community.
  • Join the The National Society of High School Scholars — Founded by Claes Nobel, this society is an extraordinary distinction for outstanding students, and a great way to enhance your children's resumés/college applications.
  • Join the Biology Club — The Biology Club will be a new addition this fall for students who are interested in the subject of Biology and science in general.
  • Be involved in Job Shadowing — This past February, many Keystone students participated in "Job Shadow Month," during which the students went on a job shadow and participated in discussions about their experiences with other students and a guidance counselor.
  • Join the Photo Club — Your children can get involved with other creative students who enjoy capturing life with their cameras. Students share photos and submit their best work each month for the chance to win the monthly photo club contest.
  • Keystone Blackboard System  — Your children can access discussion boards, tips for distance learning, information on college and career planning, and much more.

Here are just some examples of how Keystone students have achieved socialization success:

Keystone student Corbin R. is actively involved in his local Boy Scout Troop 71. Corbin recently earned Boy Scouting's highest youth award, the Eagle Scout Award. Leaders of Troop 71 say that Corbin "...has demonstrated outstanding leadership with the youth of the Troop."

Sebastian S. is a Keystone student from the nation of Columbia. Sebastian plays tennis and is part of the Columbian National Federation Team. Sebastian credits his Keystone education for giving him the ability to practice and improve his tennis game, as well as run a small business when not doing his schoolwork.

Emily recently graduated from Keystone National High School. During her time with Keystone, Emily was able to create a schedule that allowed her to practice ballet at the Dancing Arts Academy. Emily became an accomplished ballet dancer, and was invited to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix, an international ballet competition. After two and a half years at the Dancing Arts Academy, Emily was offered a spot in the prestigious Kirov Academy in Washington D.C.

Keystone encourages their students to be heavily involved in their local communities, have jobs, perform volunteer work and be involved in hobbies that expose them to new and interesting people every day. It's Keystone's stance that there are many ways to help children socialize and that once parents realize that socialization happens in many ways, most through family and community interaction, the worry about homeschool socialization disappears.

About Our Sponsor:

Keystone is an online school for children in grades 6-12. Since 1974 Keystone has provided flexible home-education programs for students around the world, and has served over 200,000 students in all 50 states and in 70 countries. Homeschool families choose Keystone because their programs adhere to the highest academic standards while offering flexibility that allows them to blend family, life and schoolwork on their own terms.


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