Jan 252010
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photo by Andrei NiemimakiIt’s the most commonly asked question about homeschooling. When people who don’t homeschool find out you’re homeschooling, or even thinking about homeschooling, it’s the first thing they ask.

What about socialization?

I find it interesting that socialization seems to be everyone’s number one concern about homeschooling, even though

a. The purpose of school is to receive an education, and

b. There are plenty of people who go to public schools who are socially inept.

But my purpose in this article is not to discuss either the philosophy or inadequacy of the public school system. I would like to help new homeschoolers to think ahead before answering this inevitable question.

OK, so you’ve just been asked THE question. Before you answer, first think about who you are talking to. Is this person someone that you’re likely to see again? Your answer to friends and relatives should probably be more complete than one you give to the grocery checker or the neighbor from down the street. Also, if possible, try to determine if the person is truly interested in having a discussion on the issue, or if they’re just repeating the question because they’ve heard it from someone else.

Here are my suggested responses to the socialization question.

The short and sweet response – No need to worry about that. The children have lots of opportunities to socialize.

The detailed list response – Socialization? We socialize all the time. Johnny is chairman of the activities committee for our homeschool group. The children also play soccer, basketball, and tennis. We go to co-op once a week, skating once a month, and a science class. We also volunteer at the nursing home and the homeless shelter as well as teach ESL classes to refugees.

The definition response– Do you really mean socialization? Socialization means 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. (dictionary.com) Is it sensible to expect children to learn how to be responsible adults by learning their social skills in a room full of children? They might learn how to act more like typical American children at school, but that’s not one of our family goals. Our children will be much better socialized by being homeschooled.

The "No thanks" response – Although I’m sure that there are some "good" kids emerging from the public schools, we’ve seen enough of the ungodly attitudes, dress, speech, and behavior prevalent among children today that we’ve determined to follow a different path as God leads us in educating our children.

Obviously each of these are hypothetical responses to the socialization question. Adapt them to use in your specific situation. Remember that with friends and relatives they will have the opportunity to see your kids grow and see if they are "anti-social." I should also note that there are some people to whom you will not be able to explain homeschooling. PERIOD. There are occasions where you may have to agree to disagree while remaining gracious. That is why I left out another possible response to the question: sarcasm. I don’t disagree that sarcasm may be useful, not to mention funny, in responding to these questions, but it can make people defensive and provoke them to attack back. For some people, a sarcastic comment may be all that will shut them up. However, I would suggest using sarcasm very sparingly if ever.

So, how do you handle the socialization question? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! Many members of the TOS Homeschool Crew shared their responses on the Crew Facebook Fan page

photo by Andrei Niemimaki

This article was originally posted on Curriculum Choice.

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  2 Responses to “What about Socialization?”

  1. No sarcasm? Dude. That's harsh. Also, what about my approach – fumble around uselessly?

    I recently started a discussion about this very issue on The Homeschool Lounge and got some great responses. I think my go-to answer is going to be "We like the lifestyle and it works for our family" and then go from there.


  2. This is great! I really struggle with not giving a sarcastic answer sometimes. I want to do that more often than I'd prefer to admit. Most of the time, I do succeed in giving a gracious answer. Most of the time.

    Your list is good, though. I need to remember it.

    Debra at http://debrakb.blogspot.com/

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