I've been home schooling long enough to know that ‘socialization’ is a prime focus of individuals who are either questioning the 'rightness' of home schooling or looking for a way to poke at homeschoolers. How will your children be socialized? I didn't understand the concern when I first looked into home schooling and the truth is, over three years later, I understand it even less. I'm to the point now where it is such a ridiculous question that I ignore it all together. I don't think that the folks (friend or foe) who ask it really have stopped and thought about what they are asking. I've also been fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family and even for the one or two strays who are 'concerned' over our choice to home school, "How will she be socialized?” is not one of the concerns that have been voiced. My point being; I had yet to be asked the question; even though I know the 'rumors' of unsocialized homeschoolers exist. So, imagine my surprise when the other day I am confronted head on with the question. I ran into an acquaintance that I had not seen in many years. 'What have you been up to?" leads to the fact that we are now home schooling. And then, bam! I'm asked, "What about Punky's socialization?” Socialization? Seriously?
The reason I have such distaste for this issue is two-fold. I suspect when one asks the question, “What about socialization?” what they really means is ‘What about a student’s social life?” Socialization and social are two different issues. As a homeschoolers, at least most of the ones I know (and I know a lot) would agree, we have a hard time balancing our children’s academic schedule with their social schedule. Our children are involved in so much, with other children, that we usually have to say “no” to many wonderful social opportunities in which our children could be participating. And on top of that, our children's ''social' is also educational and, more often than not, of their own choosing. Our children interact daily with a wide range of folks - not just little people of their own age. These are valid points; however there is an even better point to be made, in my opinion; the one that actually addresses ‘socialization’.
Socialization, by definition, 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.
How many complaints have been heard from parents about the horrible children their children have been exposed to in brick and mortar schools? Now, how many homeschoolers have we heard about in the news that brought a gun to their school room and took out the teacher and fellow students? How many homeschoolers have you read about in the newspapers that were caught dealing drugs on their school grounds? These are examples of real ‘socialization’ issues that occur in the public school system that do not seem to come up in home school. These examples may seem excessive, but they demonstrate my point, because really, I could go on and on. Perhaps what sums it up best is what I've heard public school teachers say regarding many of their students, "These kids are animals". Yep, they are social – just not socialized.
I am not attempting to prove, or even validate, the idea that home schooling is better than public schooling. The real truth of the matter is that there are issues with traditionally schooling your children and there are issues with home schooling your children. But an equally valid truth is this: one could encounter unsocialized children in the home school community; but no more so, and usually less so, than can be encountered in the public school systems. There is no Utopia. So please, unless we are going to put socialization on the list of problems in the public school system, remove it from the list of problems with home schooling because it is ridiculous.
P.S. Punky was very excited to receive the homeschooling shirt SHE has been dying to have: