The greatest homeschool myth

It seems that my discussion of homeschooling is far from over, as thanks to Tamara, I am directed to part of the California ruling on homeschooling which I hadn’t addressed directly in my previous post.

This excerpt is the section which I am talking about most directly:

Specifically, the appeals court said, the trial court had found that “keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where … they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ ‘cloistered’ setting.

Tamara quite correctly asks the question about when did it become “normal” to put our children into state run facilities, surrounded by other children their own age, all in the name of their “development”; when traditionally children were raised in the company of adults.  She’s quite on the money, and you should read her post.

I want to address something tangental to that, namely that the California court has essentially enshrined in law what is the greatest myth of homeschooling, and the lie most often touted by anti-homeschool advocates, that of “under-socialization” in homeschool kids.

What they believe is that kids who do not go to public or private school do not develop normal relationships like “other kids”, because they’re not exposed to the everyday social interaction with their peers; anti-homeschoolers further contend that this lack of “socialization” hampers the ability of the child to interact productively with their peers later in life.

Quite frankly, it’s a bunch of crap.  Now, I admit I’m not necessarily helping my point with the language there, however I need to make a very clear point.  When it comes to homeschooling, your child will be no more or less “socialized” than if they had gone to public school.  If you take a shy, introverted kid and stick him or her in public school, he/she is still going to be shy and introverted.  If you take an outgoing child and homeschool them, they are going to be outgoing and social.

The problem is one of perception, where anti-homeschool types believe that homeschooled children are sitting around in their rooms with no social interaction whatsoever.  Unfortunately, the facts don’t back that up.  If you took a representative sample of homeschool families, one of the connecting factors for many (not all) homeschoolers is that they’re also very active in the church, or like my family, a part of a homeschool support group.

Although anecdotes aren’t evidence, I’m more than willing to offer my brothers and myself up as examples.  My older and younger brothers, as well as myself, were all homeschooled.  My older brother is pretty “middle of the road” when it comes to personality, not really outgoing, not introverted either.  He’s never had a problem making friendships or working with other people in a productive environment.  Take me next; I’m very outgoing and have a very…forceful personality.  My only problem in establishing relationships has been that I’m naturally a very selfish person, which no amount of “socialization” has been able to change.  Finally, there’s my younger brother, Number 3 (brother 4 wasn’t homeschooled through high school) who is relatively introverted, and always has been.  When we were in high school and hanging out with our other high school friends, it was always that way.  Hasn’t changed.

When homeschooling is done right, children have plenty of opportunities to play with other children and develop those important social skills.  They learn things like competition, fair play, and that sometimes the bigger, stronger kid gets what he wants because he’s bigger and stronger.  When you hear an anti-homeschooling person say that “homeschooled children aren’t given enough opportunies to socialize”, what they’re really saying is “homeschooled kids aren’t being given any indoctrination about how to ‘play nice’ and they’re all independent and stuff”.

The point is that homeschooled kids have just as many opportunities for social interaction as kids who go to public school if the parent gets involved, which is actually key to successful homeschooling.  In fact, a lot of homeschool support groups work with local Christian schools so that homeschool kids can play sports and engage in other activities.

If anyone is thinking about homeschooling, and has questions about successful methods, success stories, or just some general advice – drop me a line at admiralahab (at) gmail.com.

5 thoughts on “The greatest homeschool myth”

  1. When people find out we homeschool our kids and ask us “But aren’t you worried about socialization?” I always answer “Yes, we are concerned about it. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we chose to homeschool our kids.”

    Our two children are active in both church and homeschool organization groups and have a lot of friends, more than I did when I was their age and going to public school. They play soccer and softball on homeschool groups. My wife makes plans with other homeschool moms and they take the kids to the museum or out for a hike or some other sort of “field trip” activity on a regular basis.

    When our kids interact with other (non-homeschooled) kids at places like the park, I’m often a bit surprised at how my kids are the ones introducing themselves, asking if they can join in a game, or organizing a game if there isn’t one already going. It’s usually (not always, but but probably 90% of the time) the other kids, the ones with all the social skills we keep getting told are so important, that don’t answer or don’t interact well.

    The problem with the socialization perception is that homeschool parents are completely comfortable with (or, more often, even very thankful for) the fact that their children aren’t “socializing” with the random bunch of other kids lumped into the public school, and this drives the parents of those kids nuts. It’s a “oh, you think your kids are too good to socialize with mine, do you?” attitude, and that is pretty hard to overcome so that a rational, objective conversation on the subject can take place.

    Now, the majority of kids in public schools are just fine, when taken alone. And odds are that most homeschool parents wouldn’t have too much of an issue with their kids socializing with most other kids. But at school you usually end up with the lowest common denominator, and the “herd” isn’t a herd most people who make the commitment to homeschooling want their kids exposed to. It’s not that Joe or Jack or Amy or Jane are bad, it’s that Joe+Jack+Amy+Jane+everyone are usually notgood at best. Plus, my 10-y-o daughter doesn’t have a clue who Hannah Montana is. That right there is worth gold.

    All this, and I never even mentioned curriculum.

  2. Caleb, I had no idea you were homeschooled when I left my comment on the post below. Very glad to see your focus on the non-issue of “Socialization” here. Good work.

  3. What you may or may not be aware of is the history of why public schools got started. There are a lot of parents today that cannot teach their own children about the academics of what they need to know. For the ones that can do so are the ones that are being shunned by our governments. I believe, and it is only my opinion, that the federal government today does not really care for proper education. I strongly think that they want to mold all of us to not think for ourselves and let them think for us. Has the “No Child Left Behind” ever worked?

    I have not seen that much difference in the educational system since I graduated from high school in 1986. True there are a lot of required tests that try to show the school systems and the students how much they have learned over the years, but is these test really working? If there is not changes in how school systems teach the students, I say nothing is working.

    From all the results that i have read, home school has lighten up the charts on how much children are learning vs public/private schools. Since home school might not be for everyone, then I strongly suggest this: why are both parents and public/private schools working together? That answer is just about the simplest question to answer. The governments do not want parents to be involved with their own children. The governments of the Untied States of America wants to control all of us. To do so, they first much condition children to think not as individuals, but as mindless robots. If you do not believe, check out the videos of the old tv show, “The Prisoner.”

    In the 1960s this one man, who played Number 6, was telling us all that our governments in the USA was slowly and systematically turning its citizens just like the ones living in “The Village.” If we can be easily fooled into accepting the NAFTA act into law in the early 1990s, then one can see how much influence our governments have over us all, and the “Big Lies” continues.

    Brandon Bowers

  4. I went to public school and came out under-socialized. Everyone should stay the heck away from me.

    I figure the teacher’s union is dedicated to forming a guild. Only they will be permitted to teach.

  5. I do not homeschool. My children went to public schools, did well, made great friends and learned how to get along with people from all races and religions. They came out prepared to deal with people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds – a.k.a the herd. I spent the time to contribute to my schools and to support my teachers, hoping that my efforts made the schools better for the children that are coming along now.

    Yes, there were times when I disagreed with curriculum and teaching styles, but I didn’t pick up my ball and stomp home. I called, I attended conferences, I met with the principal, I spoke with the school board. I worked it out.

    Do I have a problem with parents who homeschool – no. I DO have a problem with the way homeschooling parents view themselves. Do they really believe they are this repressed minority that the government and the NEA are secretly gunning for? Can they be that naive? Do they have any idea how little most people care whether they take their kids off the grid or not? I actually had one neighbor, who homeschools her children, tell me that she was not going to answer the county census because it was the government’s way of ferreting out homeschoolers? Really? Our census in Virginia is merely to cut up the pie by population. If you don’t choose to send your child to public school, then – MORE FOR THE REST OF US – we get the money anyway. I was amazed when she said this. Of course, she is also teaching her children that the planet is less than 10,000 years old, so I don’t know why I should have been surprised.

    As far as reputation, most children that I meet from homeschools are high achieving children from involved and supportive parents. But once in awhile I meet the 10,000 year old planet types, and then I understand the concerns voiced by traditional educators. You in the homeschool community should address this issue in your own ranks. We have over 80 children in our neighborhood who are homeschooled, compared to a little over 1000 who aren’t, but out of all those children, you know everyone remembers the family with 10,000 year old planet theory and assumes that’s what is going on with the rest.

    I don’t worry about socialization with homeschooled children. I do wonder exactly what happens when the bubble wrap comes off though. And it has to, doesn’t it? You can’t control their environment forever, so how does that work?
    Are they the kids that cut loose in college? Are you going to let them go away to school then? At what age do they get out from under the constant loving scrutiny of their parents? When do they get to interact with their peers,or for that matter, with anyone else, without the parents around? How do they know where they start and their parents end?

    I’ll be interested to hear from all of you about that.

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