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Homeschoolers and Socialization

By Dan Hammes

The first question asked by many people who do not home school their children is, "What about socialization?" Homeschooled children are probably more adept in social situations than the majority of their peers in public schools. Homeschoolers are not walking around with signs declaring themselves to be social misfits. On the contrary, they are the ones that can carry on a conversation in any social situation. They can actually communicate with adults as well as with their peers.

Children in a regular school setting spend seven hours a day with children their own age. Very rarely do they interact with people other than those in their own classes. Does this actually prepare them for the "real world?" Generally, the effect of peer pressure on youths is negative. Homeschool children, on the other hand, spend much of their day with people of different age groups. This has a very positive effect on their interaction with others in the "real world." After schooling is completed, the "real world" consists of home and work environments. Where in this world does one only interact with people their own age? In this respect it would seem that the homeschool child would be better able to adapt to the "real world" environment.

At a homeschool conference a speaker was commenting on homeschooling and socialization. He said, "Just so my kids feel they are getting the proper socialization, I take them into the bathroom and tell them to hand over their lunch money." Though it is a ludicrous statement, this is the type of socialization many kids receive in public schools.
In actuality, homeschool children experience a variety of forms of socialization. They still play with the other kids in the neighborhood. They attend church functions with other kids. They go on field trips with other homeschool families. There are even group classes in science, choir and other class endeavors that are more suited as a group activity. Homeschool children are also involved in baseball, hockey, basketball and other extra curricular activities just like their public school counterparts. Sometimes it even appears that homeschool kids can be over socialized. Just ask their mothers who are driving them all over town.

In 1992, Dr. Larry Shyers, did a study comparing social development and behaviors of two groups of students ages eight to ten. One group was homeschooled while the other group consisted of public and private school children. His results showed that homeschooled children had fewer behavioral problems than the schooled children. He also noted that the schooled children more often modeled themselves after their peers while the homeschool children imitated the behavior of their parents.

Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute conducted the largest survey of homeschoolers to date in 2003. The study surveyed 7300 adults who had been homeschooled. His study covered getting into college, getting jobs, community involvement and enjoyment of life. His conclusion was that homeschooling actually created more enjoyment in life in the "real world."

Homeschooling does not interfere with socialization but actually enhances it. Homeschooled children have less disciplinary problems and are very often quite mature compared to public school children. People might want to start questioning whether the socialization their children are getting in public schools is preventing their children from being able to live in the "real world."

 



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