Reply to a Fellow Home Educator

Your concerns about your son’s socialization are important.  Everybody worries about their child’s social development, but for those  of us who homeschool, and for those of us with only children the issue seems to be that much greater.

The family is the primary agent of socialization.  The fact that your child is extremely social means that he has acquired these skills mainly from you (and others within your family), which is great.  Peer socialization is an important aspect in the lives of our children, as homeschooling parents, we are well aware of this.  But, is it important enough to place children in schools for 6 hours a day?  The six hours that your son spends at school is not filled with peer interaction (unless he is in kindergarten).  The majority of a school child’s time in school is spent sitting at a desk, listening to a teacher, and  performing individual tasks.  The truth is that the only unsupervised, unstructured time that peers interact in schools is at recess and at  lunch which amounts to 1 - 1½ hour per day. You can certainly provide your child this at the local park, or a get together with other  homeschoolers.

The other important issue here is the type of socialization that  schools typically offer children.  Often socialization within the  context of the school is of the negative variety (violence, punishment,  teasing, etc).  Lewis Perelman said that “If we are to look honestly at  what scientific research reveals about the dark side of schooling’s  ‘socialization’, we should conclude that the benefits can be obtained in  other ways that are far less costly.”

When Sociologists and Psychologists study the social skills of school aged children, they focus (for the most part) on problem behaviours (that should tell us something right there!).

There have been two major studies on homeschooling and  socialization. One was done my Larry E. Shyers and the other by Thomas Smedley.  Both of these studies found that the homeschooled children were more mature and better socialized than their publicly schooled  counterparts.  Shyers readily admits that he fully expected  homeschooled children to be far worse off in the area of socialization.  If you are interested in a more in depth look at these studies, I have  included a few links at the end of this message.

I guess the bottom line here is that socialization is a complex, life long process and the school is not the only place in which children  are able to acquire social skills and develop their social identity. I guess the best advice I can give you is that if you do decide to  homeschool, get involved with your local homeschooling community.  We  are very active in our homeschooling community, and my son has more  friends than he can see on a regular basis; there are more ‘classes’ and get togethers than we can fit into our schedule; and he is a very happy, well adjusted child.  And the best part of it all is that we, as his  parents, get to be involved and watch our son bloom.  There isn't much  more that we, as a family, could hope for.

I wish you luck in whatever decision that your family makes.  Please, if you need any support, or more information, feel free to e-mail [removed] or call me [phone number removed]. I would be happy to discuss any of your concerns or hesitations.  I hope this has helped.


Here are a few links that may be of interest to you:

Topics: Socialization