I love having teen bloggers guest post on my site! This is a post by 16 year-old Audrey on the Myth of the Unsocialized Homeschooler.
One Sunday at church, my mom introduced me to a lady with whom she was chatting. I greeted her in a robust, friendly manner. She smiled and said, “You’re a homeschooler, aren’t you?”
The myth of the unsocialized homeschooler:
The rumor continues to spread that homeschoolers aren’t properly socialized. The woman I mentioned above certainly was not falling for the lie, but many people do. To the world’s eye, the best way to socialize a child is to have them in a classroom environment with students of their same age for a majority of the day. According to these standards, homeschoolers are falling short.
So, let’s put it to the test. Are homeschoolers properly socialized? Being around people is a part of socialization, but is there more to it? First things first, we need to establish a solid definition of socialization.
According to Dictionary.com, socialization is: “A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.”
Merriam-Webster.com defines socialization as: “To talk to and do things with other people in a friendly way, to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable in society.”
According to the first definition, the important components of socialization are to develop an identity and to learn the behavior and social skills that are compatible with the person’s social environment. The Merriam-Webster definition also focuses on learning acceptable behavior, but it also says that a vital part of socialization is being able to talk and interact with others in a friendly manner.
Let’s analyze the different sections of these definitions and evaluate how homeschooling measures up to traditional education options in terms of socialization, as defined above.
1) Developing an identity.
A key part of growing up is for a child to discover who they were designed to be. A typical goal of homeschooling is to cater to the unique characteristics of the student, thereby cultivating their gifts and talents. Thus, homeschooling encourages a child in their interests as well as learning styles, and ultimately in who they are as a person. Additionally, there is very little to no pressure in the homeschool world to fit in with the “cool crowd.”
In an institutional school setting, a great deal of time and energy is wasted trying to fit in with the “popular kids,” where homeschoolers have the luxury of directing that energy toward building true friendships. Consequently, homeschooling students have an easier time in becoming the person they were designed to be than do their traditionally schooled counterparts.
2) Developing social skills.
An important (and challenging) part of developing social skills is to learn how to relate to people of the opposite sex. In public schools, dating relationships are common even though the students are way too young to be indulging in this type of behavior. Unfortunately, institutional schools provide environments that encourage and foster the wrong kind behavior!
Typically, homeschoolers have a healthier view of their friendships with the opposite gender. While homeschoolers still develop crushes, many understand there are benefits in waiting to date until they are ready to consider marriage. Homeschoolers have close parental supervision in their lives, which often prevents the formation of inappropriate relationships.
3) Relating to people of different ages and backgrounds.
A come myth of the unsocialized homeschooler is the lack of social skills. In school situations, students are socialized with children who are in the same age group. This model does not represent “real world” situations. In order to survive in the real world, you have to be able to mix with people of different ages and backgrounds. Homeschooling regularly provides these opportunities.
For example, instead of having a class or co-op with just one age group, homeschoolers are usually in group settings with a much wider age range. This provides students with experience in relating to a variety of age groups. Due to the amount of time spent together, homeschoolers naturally tend to develop strong relationships with their siblings, which also provides training in relating to people of other ages.
4) Talking and doing things with others in a friendly way.
Being able to relate to people and carry on a conversation is not something that is acquired automatically. Kids and teenagers need to be instructed in how to be polite, courteous, and friendly. While most parents have good intentions to work with their children on social etiquette, homeschooling parents have the benefit of working with their children on these and other skills throughout the day. It is a part of the lifestyle and therefore tangible results are produced. It is completely understandable that children who are associating with their same age group all day (with very little adult interaction), often lack proper social skills. They struggle to comfortably shake hands with someone or to make eye contact. Even though these children have been around many people all day, they have not had enough (or any) training in how to be a friendly, polite person. In fact, often the reverse happens and bad attitudes, habits, and offensive language are learned in this environment.
In the end, as a natural consequence of their environment, it can be said with confidence that homeschoolers are very well socialized. While it is not perfect, homeschooling has a much better chance of producing truly socialized members of society than do institutional type schools. The next time you meet a child or teenager who is friendly and polite, you might ask them if they are a homeschooler!
How do you combat the myths of the unsocialized homeschooler?
Audrey is a 16 year old homeschooler from the state of Arizona. She spends a majority of time writing, reading, and public speaking. She also teaches the elementary age class at church alongside her mom. Nothing makes her happier than a night of playing games and telling jokes with good friends. She is passionate about helping nonprofit organizations such as Compassion International and Feed My Starving Children. You can find her blogging at livingblessedwithless.wordpress.com