2000 – Social Services Initiative – part 3

Historical Archive - In the year 2000, this article was included as part of the information package distributed by the OFTP to members of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS).

Social Behaviors: Public vs. Home Educated Children


Currently the trend in home schooling is gaining popularity. It has been estimated that the current number of children being taught at home in the United States is in excess of a million. The increasingly popular trend has become a concern to local and national school officials, teachers, legislators, and parents. The concerns generally stemmed from the idea that home based education does not offer children the opportunity to develop socially.

Social Development

Research has shown us that Home Educated Children are in fact exposed to nearly the same number of social contacts as public educated children. The important factor, however, is not the number of contacts, but the quality of social interaction (Carpenter, 1992).

There are two types of socialism, positive and negative. Positive socialization is developed from a positive warm environment of love and acceptance. Negative socialization separates children from their family and is based on peer influence (Ballmann, 1987).

Social behaviors are developed while children interact with others. The children observe behaviors of others, looking at what they can do or become, learning tolerance, cooperation, and compassion (Bronfenbrenner, 1975). Whitehead (1985) explains that mass education has forced children into a horizontal peer relationship. As a result, there has been a shift away from parental relationships to peer relationships. Additionally, a negative factor of socialization in public education is conformity. Conforming to the values and behavior of other students is usually destructive to the relationships between child and parent. Parents should be considered the best social mentors for their children. Children who are involved with the family in their daily lives on a loving basis continually until the child is eight to ten years will feel a stronger tie into the family. This feeling of belonging gives them a sense of self-worth, which is an important factor in positive sociability.

These children are friendlier as well as less dependent on peer values as they reach adolescence. They experience the highest quality of play with a warm and responsive parent who also enjoys holding and nurturing them as well as allowing them freedom to explore their fantasies. As a result, these children become more content with themselves. They are friendlier as well as more independent of peer values as they grow older. In general they are happier, better adjusted, more thoughtful, competent, and sociable children. (Moore 1986).

The argument of some is that children need to be exposed to the reality of life. In other words they need to learn at a young age to deal with foul language, rebelliousness and peer acceptance and the like. However, this is the type of socialization that home schoolers are in fact attempting to avoid.

Ballmann (1987) believes that parents should not expose their children to the cruelties of the world all for the sake of socialization. He explains that nurseries grow strong healthy plants from small seedlings. The seedlings start out in the sheltered environment of a greenhouse to protect the plants from the elements of extreme weather. Soon the plants are strong and able to withstand the elements on their own, but it was the protection of the greenhouse that gave the plants the chance to survive, to become strong healthy plants.

Ballmann continues to say that it is the same process for children. If they are given the chance to be trained in a protected environment, they will become strong and better prepared to face the realities of the world. As a result of a controlled environment, they can become productive citizens.

Lefton (1994) explains that, when a child spends more time away from family they become subject to increasing pressure to conform with their peer groups. The types of conformity may include standards for behavior and dress, social interaction and rebellious acts such as shoplifting or taking drugs (Farrell and Danish 1993).

(Paikoff, Brooks-Gunn 1988) explains that adolescents in the stages of puberty often experience an increased number of conflicts with parents. Yet only a small number (5%-10%) actually experience a deterioration in relationships. Researchers suggest that the conflicts may in fact contribute positively to adolescent development through a warm relationship with parents. Henderson (1989) shows us a study that shows what happens to children's self esteem in an environment of public schools. Of 224 home schooled children, John Wesley Taylor V found that home-schooled children scored at or above the 91st percentile mark on the Piers- Harris Children's self-concept Scale, (a measure of self esteem). In another study, public school children lose their sense of self-worth dramatically as they progress through the grades from 80% with a strong sense of self-worth at school entrance dropping to 20% by fifth grade and to 5% at twelfth grade.


Maybe the simplest phrase to explain social development would be: We tend to become like those whom we associate with. Home schooled or public schooled children, the important factor in positive social development needs to come from the hearts of the family.


Ballmann, R. E., (1987). The How and Why of Home Schooling. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1975). Influences on Human Development. Hinsdale, Illinois: Dryden Press.

Farrell, A. D., & Danish, S. J. (1993). Peer Drug Associations and Emotional Restraint: Causes or Consequences of Adolescents' Drug Use? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 327-334.

Grover, S. V. & Edsley, R. C. (1988). Family Environment and Attitudes of Homeschoolers and Non-Homeschoolers.(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 320 798)

Henderson, B. (1989). Home School: Taking The First Step. Kooskia, Id: Mountain Meadow.

Lefton, L. A., (1994) Psychology. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Moore, R., (1986). Research on Sociability. The Parent Educator and Family Report, 4, 1.

Paikoff, R. L., & Brooks-Gunn J. (1991) Do parent-child relationships change during puberty? Psychological Bulletin, 110, 47- 66.

Whitehead, J. W., (1985). Parents' Rights. Weschester, Illinois. Crossway Books.


Also see studies here: http://www.pjrothermel.com [link updated since the information package was first sent]