Homeschooling’s #1 critic is socialization. Socialization has literally kicked the crud out of homeschooling in the mainstream psyche. But homeschooling has a new ally and socialization did not see this one coming.
I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, I’m a blogger, I send emails, I text and, occasionally, I even talk on the phone. Before I’ve even had my second cup of coffee in the morning I have contacted, spoken to, informed, and conversed with dozens of people, maybe more. I work out of my home, and my husband does too. Mind you, no one has ever called us unsocialized.
Now that my kids are homeschooling it comes up all the time. What about socialization? Aren’t you worried they won’t be socialized?
There are some people who would argue that socialization has never been a problem for homeschoolers. That may be true. I went through the ‘regular’ school system so I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that my kids are homeschooled and they have more opportunity to socialize now than they did in school.
That’s a pretty bold statement and I’m sure some people are doubtful. But hear me out.
At school they had to sit in a room full of people that they weren’t allowed to talk to for a good deal of the time. They were given 15 minutes to eat lunch (eat fast kiddos) and then 30 minutes to play. They were also given another 15 or 20 minutes for recess (if that wasn’t taken away as a punishment). These were definitely social times (except for that 15 minutes that they had to eat – how much socializing can you do when you need to scarf down a sandwich and a piece of fruit in 15 minutes?). Then, of course there were times throughout the day when they were able to work on projects with other kids and class discussion, that sort of thing. But the rest of the time they spent lining up to go to another classroom or listening to instruction/lectures, and being shushed if they were caught chatting with their friends.
Now they spend about 3 or 4 hours a day actually buckling down and doing school work (much of which we access online). When we head out during the day to hang out with other homeschoolers (we can find tons of groups online with the click of a mouse), we are gone for 2 or 3 hours – and all they do is socialize. We do that at least 2 or 3 times a week. They are in more activities than we had time for when they were in regular school and we still have time to sit down and eat dinner together every night. Add to that the fact that they can Skype with their friends and family, that they connect on Minecraft servers and that they still hang out with kids who live near us when those kids aren’t in school, and I really think we have ‘regular’ school beat on a quantitative level. But when I think about the quality of their interactions now I am even more pleased with what we are doing.
My kids have a much more varied social life than they used to. The homeschool groups we meet with have tons of members and when the kids find other kids they connect with we make more of an effort to join in the activities that those kids are joining. Because they have more time for activities they are meeting more kids from other schools and other districts. Because of technology they are connecting with people in different states and different countries. Because we have more time in general, they have chosen to keep in touch with kids they met on our recent travels. They are being exposed to all kinds of people from all walks of life. They have met kids who homeschool because of medical issues, or because of developmental disabilities. They have met people who live totally different lives than they do and it has changed the way they see the world.
So yes, we are staying home and being very social. And they are getting an education in life to boot!
Jennifer Charboneau is a homeschooling mom of three kids. She came to homeschool out of sheer necessity and did not intend to do it for the long haul – but fell in love with it and now cannot imagine going back! Her blog is http://modernhomeschoolblog.wordpress.com/ and she’s also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/modernhomeschooling.