How Homeschooling Affects Children’s Social Skills

Hands down, one of the biggest concerns about homeschooling is the fear that homeschool students are not learning effective social skills or are not being properly socialized. The presumption is, the best way to socialize your child is to do it through large gatherings of same-age peers, and without having those regular interactions, children will somehow be missing out on important learning experiences. Where does the truth meet the presumption, and how does homeschooling really impact a child’s social skills?

The answer lies in defining “social skills.” If what you are seeking is an environment where self-awareness and self-acceptance is determined for your child by an outside set of teenagers, or if you are seeking the ability for your child to function well in an artificial environment of only similar-aged people, then it’s true. Homeschooling may have a hindering effect on your child. Public and private schools can have many advantages, but social skills development is not necessarily one of them unless you seek the limited situations described above.

True social skills are the abilities to develop habits and tools that allow individuals to function in the society around them for the betterment of the community and in meaningful relationships with others. That definition has nothing to do with the confines of a school setting. Rather, that definition is all about the character of the individual as they live out their daily life, and as homeschoolers will tell you, character training happens all day, every day in a homeschool environment. Thus, one of the primary sources of true social skill development is the family itself.

Social skills are developed as students interact with others of a variety of ages in their own families, and as they witness what goes on in their communities and where the needs are around them. Homeschoolers see daily life every day as they work in a place that has to also function as a home. Homeschoolers must get their work done while the phone rings or the laundry gets done or the business is run, and most homeschoolers also find themselves out in their communities during the week, too. This lets them interact more regularly with business owners and civic leaders, so their understanding of social responsibility can be more acutely in tune.

But these are not the only areas where social skills are developed. Other sources of influence include mentors with whom homeschoolers might work, or clubs that they belong to. It can include churches or church groups that they participate in, scouting organizations, or sports teams.

If the goal is to prepare students to become adults who function in a family, a community, and in a career filled with people of many ages and skills, what better place to develop those abilities than in the homeschool. All of these aspects of daily interaction are afforded to the homeschooler. Positive social skills can be taught responsibly by homeschoolers, and so like anything else, if done well, the affects of homeschooling on social skills development can be hugely successful and rewarding.

My Homeschooling Splurge

Homeschoolers love to network. Despite what many think of homeschooling as isolated and solitary, the truth is quite the opposite. Thanks to the rise of social media, homeschoolers can now network effortlessly across geographic barriers. On one of the social media sites in which I participate, I saw an intriguing entry. The question was posed, “What fun curricula are you purchasing for your homeschool this year?” Immediately I knew my answer!

This year our family has purchased a gym membership. It’s a splurge for us because, as is true for many homeschoolers, we are a large family and a per-person membership fee can add up quickly. However, this particular gym has all of the “usuals,” but it also has classes that are family friendly and trainers on site. We’ve found this to be an excellent addition to our homeschooling curricula because of this.

Not only do we have P.E. covered this way, but we are having a lot of fun in the process. I don’t have to make up my own routines, and I don’t become the task-master for running in place or doing sit-ups. Someone else does it for us, and we all get to “suffer” together. There is nothing like having a group class in dance-exercise to make even the most stoic child giggle at seeing their mom try to salsa, keep the beat, and remember which direction the group is moving, all at the same time. We have even added new words into our family vocabulary that help to build a bond between us. For instance, “Team Dan” can be seen at the gym regularly on Wednesdays, but if anyone talks back, it’s extra “plank time” for them!

Originally, we didn’t foresee the benefits that we are experiencing. We only knew that we needed to get more active and this seemed like a good idea. But, it’s made P.E. fun. It’s increased our physical condition, but also our mental condition.

But that’s just my way of adding some fun into our homeschool program. Fun is good, and better when done with my family. Those bonds go well beyond the subject of P.E. or anything else. So that’s my fun homeschooling splurge this year. What’s yours?

Disadvantages of Homeschooling – Outweighing the Potential Benefits of a Classroom

Homeschooling is not quite as attractive as when you compare it to attending a regular school in the long run. There are skills that can only be learnt in a public environment whilst allowing the child to become comfortable dealing with other life realities. Home schooling does not readily possess the requirements for children to be productive members of society. As such the disadvantages of homeschooling far outweigh the benefits that might be gained in the short-run.

First of all, to consider homeschooling, one of the parents must be able to devote a large part of their day in not only tutoring the child, but to also research on the necessary materials for the child’s age. Incidentally, even the cost of homeschooling your child is greater compared to sending your child to a school. While there are parents who claim that children who learn at home are more behaved because of the standards set by their parents and tutors, the social cost of it is more than what might be compared to children who go to school and interact with other children.

The disadvantage of homeschooling, in a very large part, is the social cost. Studies have shown that a child who attends regular school, whether it is a private or public one, develops social skills that will allow them to function in society. They are also largely more productive members of society due to the early interaction with other people. Indeed, many homeschooled children often express a desire to attend a regular school because they feel like they are missing out on a lot of things children their age regularly do.

Disadvantages of homeschooling also include the limited knowledge that the child might receive. A classroom environment often invites the knowledge and opinions of other schoolmates, thereby garnering a value-added perspective. While a homeschooled child may learn the principles and basics of matters on literature, history, social studies, they are not enriched with differing perspectives. To this, it is a considerable disadvantage for a child not to experience how other people think.

Children in a classroom setting are allowed to ask questions and are expected to ask their questions, also informing other children that they are not singular in having similar thoughts. There is a sense of camaraderie a classroom setting that benefits children knowing that whilst they are different from each other, learning each other’s backgrounds, they are all pursuing how to get along with one another.

The Effects of Homeschooling on Socialization

Why the debate about homeschooling and socialization?

A common criticism of homeschooling is that homeschool children will not be properly socialized and therefore will lack social skills. So what is it about school that is so important for socialization? As kids develop psychologically they go though many stages. The stages vary depending on the psychologist you happen to be reading, but there is a basic pattern. Kids are attached to their parents, then kids like to play around other kids (but not with them), then kids desire to make friends and play with the other kids (this is a simplified version of course). So the concern with homeschooling is that with homeschooled children not leaving to go to school when they are five they will not have the opportunity to go through proper psychological development because they will not have the other children of similar age to interact with. This of course means critics are assuming that homeschoolers lock their children in a room or chain them to a table making them do countless hours of school work and never letting them “socialize” with other children. In reality, because of concern for the social development of their homeshooled children many parents overcompensate involving their children in many group activities, even more than their public school peers.

What is the effect of public school on socialization?

Take a walk through a public school and listen to the conversations that kids are having, or check out one of the millions of Facebook pages of today’s students and you will most likely find yourself weeping for the future of mankind. There are epidemics of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual pressure, bullying, and a culture that celebrates ignorance over intelligence and creativity. The public schools promote an environment that overemphasizes the importance of athletic achievement and downplays academic or creative endevours. Football and basketball players have rallies that celebrate their achievement whether or not they have a winning season, while exemplary performers in academics, music and art are lucky to receive a letter home acknowledging their accomplishments. When a student puts forth a good effort in class the common ridicule is to be labeled a “try hard”. Can you think something any more ignorant to demean someone for. Trying hard is now somehow something to be ashamed of. This is the “Jersey Shore” Generation, a mindset that if you party, get drunk and make yourself sound as stupid as possible you can be rich and famous, trying hard and working for something is for chumps. That is the socialization that is taking place in public schools today.

Socialization is a pro for homeschooling not a con.

Homeschooling and socialization go hand in hand and give parents more say in their child’s psychological development. What is wrong with choosing who your child associates with when they are young? As a homeschool family you can join groups, go on playdates and of course your child can play kids in your neighborhood (after the public school kids finish their homework!). Educating you children at home does not mean they wont ever get to see other kids. They will probably get to interact even more. If I recall, most of the time kids got in trouble in my classes, it was for socializing! Additionally socialization is public schools is not diverse. In a typical class you have 30 children all of the same age and socioeconomic background. These groupings delay maturity because the young student have no older students to emulate. Homeschooled children interact with a much wider variety of people with diverse background and participate more within the community, you know the “real world”. Public schools claim to be preparing students for the real world yet foster an environment that is nothing like it, where being bad at a sport is more important than being good at math or science. The socialization debate is one that s long overdue to be turn on its head. Public schools should be asking “how can socialize our students in the way that homeschooled children are?”

How Can Homeschooling Potentially Affect Our Society’s Future?

Educational issues abound in conversations, newspapers, and the minds of parents. Does anyone like No Child Left Behind? How can we keep and attract quality teachers? How can we equalize educational opportunities for children, regardless of race, color, and creed? Why do many think the public education system is a failure? These serious issues helped me make a decision that is, perhaps, another major issue in education today.

I homeschool my children and have done so since they were born. With the exception of my daughter’s two-month experiment with the local grammar school because she wanted to “know what school’s like,” they haven’t spent any time in public schools. I homeschool my kids because of No Child Left Behind. My kids get to explore many topics in depth and they don’t have to worry about taking a lot of tests. I homeschool because, while there may be good teachers in the local school, how do I guarantee that my children will get that teacher? At home, they get me, and I am a known quantity. The myriad problems and issues of today’s educational system guided me into the homeschooling decision. These issues have guided and continue to guide other families into making the same decision.

More homeschooling families must have some meaning, and create other issues, for society. Perhaps, some of these issues are as follows.

The market for curricula should increase. Homeschooling families choose, or design, their own curricula. Do you want a religious based curriculum or not? Do you like unit studies? Do you want an online-based curriculum for your children, or do you want to stick to paper and pencil?

Fewer children will be problem teens. Yes, some people think all teens are problems, but if you’ve ever been around a number of homeschooled teens, you can easily change that mindset. These are kids that still actually talk to their parents. These are kids that do stuff for themselves, and their families, that has real value and meaning, so they don’t need to seek meaning as much elsewhere.

Status symbols will hold less value. The majority of homeschooled families don’t have significant quantities of disposable income, so their kids don’t get designer jeans. There’s also a tendency in homeschooled families to be environmental and shop at thrift stores. My kids, and the other kids I’ve seen, don’t seem to have a desire for status symbols as much as the kids in school have. For instance, my daughter thought silly bands (plastic, shaped wrist bands) were kind of cool, but she didn’t profess a desire for them. She didn’t save her allowance for them. None of her friends had them, so why would she need them?

Public schools will get less money. Schools get their funding based on the number of children enrolled in classes and attendance. If the percentage of homeschooled children increases significantly, schools will notice a difference in their monetary resources.

Fewer people will go to college. Homeschooled kids learn how to think for themselves. They learn, well, they learn how to learn. They learn how to teach themselves. Traditionally, you learn basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic in school and you go to college to learn how to think. Homeschooled kids are learning how to think for themselves at a younger age. As a result, a college education won’t be as necessary.