If you’re a homeschooler, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone somewhere mention “socialization,” often in a manner that indicates concern. The prevailing attitude seems to be that children who are homeschooled are not “socialized.” What does this mean, exactly? Is this true? How can homeschoolers address this issue?
Merriam-Webster defines “socialize” as “to make social; especially : to fit or train for a social environment.” So a child who is socialized is, according to this definition, a child who is trained for a social environment. It’s a child who is able to interact with others and form friendships.
It’s interesting that public school is considered the hub for this sort of training. Many homeschoolers consider their child’s participation in their community to be a legitimate form of socialization.
In fact, some parents have great concerns over the socialization that is occurring in public schools today. There is an alarming number of incidents such as suicide, violence (such as school shootings), and bullying. There are also cases where teachers and students have inappropriate relationships.
Parents may be concerned that their homeschooled child is not getting the time with peers that is considered healthy, though. Some homeschooled children do experience a lack of peer-to-peer play time if there simply aren’t others their age around. And often, those playmates that are the same age are off in school all day.
Here are some tips on how parents can address these socialization concerns.
- Make playdates with other moms, dads, and their kids. You can meet at the park or museum, or just hang out at one another’s houses. Sometimes you have to make a bit of an effort to bring kids together to become friends.
- Include your child in everyday life things, and bring him or her along to as many events as you can. Errands, library trips, local fairs and community clean-up days, and various other activities help your child become a functioning member of the community – in other words, socialized!
- Attend group events to meet other parents, such as MOPS, church, or Scouts. As you meet these parents, their children and yours may form lasting bonds of friendship.
- Attend (or form) a homeschool co-op. This is one of the best links between your child and the real world – other homeschooling parents get together and teach classes, go on field trips, and otherwise interact.
It could be concluded that the major difference between a child socialized through traditional schooling and one socialized through homeschooling is parental effort. Parents need to make the effort to introduce their children to others rather than just letting it happen automatically while the child is away at school.