If you ask any homeschooler what the biggest objection they face is, you will be met with a look of incredulity, fury or dread, and you will learn about the dreaded “s” word…. Socialization.
“But what about socialization? Do you even have friends? Do you leave your house?”
Homeschoolers have gotten accepted to, and succeeded at, virtually every college in the country. They regularly place well in national spelling, geography, and Bible bees, often earning top honors. Homeschoolers play sports, act in television and movies, and perform on stage in plays and concerts.
Yet a large number of people still have a vision of homeschoolers, sitting around their kitchen table in their pajamas, completely isolated from the rest of the world, while mom in her long denim skirt fills their minds with her hand-picked information, designed to keep them forever segregated in their home environment, unable to function in the “real world”.
Well, OK, that part about pajamas may or may not be the case on many days. But the rest of it could not be further from the truth. Homeschoolers live in the “real world”. They go shopping in markets and the mall. They pay bills, go to the bank and to professional work places. On any given day, droves of them can be found at the library. They interact with cashiers and shopkeepers, librarians and bank tellers, babies and great-grandmas, their parents’ accountants and lawyers. I know this because my children have been involved in any number of “social” situations.
Homeschoolers go to museums, art galleries and amusement parks, cultural events and exhibitions. They can intelligently discuss artwork, music, literature, and finance. Homeschoolers often attend the theater and concerts, and therefore know how to behave at live productions. I cannot tell you how many times I have attended a play and seen children (and many adults) talk throughout the performance, clap inappropriately, even put their feet up on the chair in front of them, while those in the homeschool group, accustomed to this type of environment, model appropriate behavior.
If your child plays sports, there is no end to the amount of socialization they can be involved in. There are recreation leagues, club leagues, parks and rec leagues, and even homeschool leagues. In some areas, homeschooled students can even try out for their high school teams. But even if he or she does not play sports, there are many other “social” options for homeschoolers.
There are multiple Scouting options. My son was a Boy Scout and my daughter was a Girl Scout. Both attained their organization’s highest honor (Eagle Scout and Gold Award). Because of this, they were required to complete several projects, culminating in the final project, which they had to design, plan, and implement themselves. After getting approval from the higher-ups in the Scouts, they met with the leaders of the organizations which they chose to assist (one a church, and the other a crisis pregnancy center), convinced friends and family to “volunteer” their services, and then dealt with the many businesspeople whose products and services were required. This might intimidate even some adults, but my children were used to interacting with people, and they handled it comfortably.
Do you belong to a church or synagogue? If so, your child can be involved in youth group or Awana, Sunday school or VBS, choir or some other organized activity. Or simply put out a call to other homeschoolers in your congregation. You’d be amazed at how many other homeschoolers might be out there, waiting for you to gather them together.
Homeschoolers have a culture all their own. There are co-ops, homeschool classes (our parks and rec department actually offers them), and many programs, all designed with homeschoolers in mind. Homeschoolers are also a part of the larger community around them. My children took classes, played sports, earned awards and trophies and black belts in karate.
And, “amazingly”, they have friends. Deep, long-lasting friendships, as well as casual friendships that last for a time and then fade away. Their friends aren’t all the same exact age. They don’t all live in the same neighborhood. They don’t even all have the same interests. Their friendships are diverse, just like the “real world”.
And best of all, they have strong family ties. Family ties that will last a lifetime…and beyond. And that is where real “socialization” occurs anyway.