As homeschoolers, the favorite go-to question of critics is often “What about socialization?”
Because public schooled kids are the epitome of empathetic, well-adjusted, can-talk-to-anyone socialites of polite society.
As a wise man once told me “The only thing I learned from other third graders was how to make farting sounds with my armpit.” Because once you have that skill down, you will be good to go for life.
Not quite, you may need a lesson on talking about the weather, but you are pretty darn close.
Not to be over-the-top sarcastic here, but the socialization question should be asked of all society.
Especially right now in history when no-one can seem to get along with each other. (Or can we? I mean, I know people who believe all kinds of different things than I do, but we are still friends who love and support one another, maybe the world isn’t as bad as the media wants us to believe it is.)
I think socialization is important, and not something to shrug off. I also think it is not something you actually learn in public school.
To me socialization would include skills like manners, being polite, saying hello, walking up to new people and introducing yourself and asking a few questions to get to know each other, communication skills, talking about what is bothering you in a calm coherent way, learning to respect those who think differently than you, not being a bully etc.
Yes, homeschoolers need to pay attention to teaching these skills. But so does the rest of the world. Standing in line, raising your hand before speaking, and sitting quietly at a desk all day are not socialization skills. They are just skills that make life in the factory of education run smoothly.
Which brings me to bullying. Some people homeschool because they faced real threats to their children’s safety. It is not okay to bully, we all know that, yet we allow it. We encourage it by not caring enough to stop it. We pontificate about how horrid it is, yet when push comes to shove it is no longer the bully getting kicked out of school, but the victim who leaves, tired of living in constant fear for their own safety.
Yep. We are awesome at socializing those classroom-packed kids.
Of course, some schools do teach kids to be polite and respectful. Sometimes they do learn social skills at school. Just like sometimes they learn social skills at home. Some parents teach their kids to be polite and respectful. To have conversations and communicate. To look at the world from more perspectives than their own.
If you are going to judge social skills, you have to include everyone. And just as you will find public schooled kids with skills ranging from awesome to awful, you will find the same range inside of homeschooling.
It is a mute point because it will come down to the parent either way.
So yes, sometimes homeschoolers have to help socialize the public-schooled neighbor kids. Because sometimes they haven’t learned how to be polite and kind…even when no one is looking. And yes, sometimes public-schooled kids help socialize the homeschooled neighbors. But the truth is, if you talk to your neighbors, you are already way ahead on the socialization curve in America.
Let’s stop expecting any kind of academic work to be a ticket to great social skills. Let’s start teaching them on purpose. The perfect place to start is by building up a community of neighbors who are there for one another, no matter how they school, what their religion is, or where on the political spectrum they place themselves. Because we are bigger and better than the media wants us to believe. We are Americans who value freedom, independence, and personhood, which means we value people as humans even when they make choices different than our own.