Socialization and the Home-Educated Child
Possibly one of the most frequent questions I get asked about my choice to educate my children from home is the socialization question: What about your children’s interaction with others? Aren’t they deprived of friends and social contact? Don’t you find that they get lonely?
While I don’t want to appear boastful, my kids are extremely articulate, well-adjusted, and really very sociable indeed. They don’t come across as children who are deprived of social contact whatsoever! Consequently it’s a question that throws me every time, because it’s often asked after the enquirer has met my children, had a conversation with them, and commented on how well- spoken they are.
The assumption is that a child’s socialization occurs entirely within school-hours and that, by removing your child from the system, their socialization will somehow be stunted. Even when presented with evidence of the contrary through conversation with socially competent home-educated children, this perception remains virtually unshakeable…
Defining Healthy Social Behaviour
I think one of the main reasons why the question bemuses me so, is that I maintain a much broader sense of what a child’s socialization should entail. I am not content with socialization being consigned to interaction with one’s own artificially engineered, age-specific peer-group. I want my kids to have the opportunity to interact with a significantly wider sample of society. I want them to feel confident in their social skills to converse with anyone from the age of 3 to 93, and not feel awkward, uncomfortable or somehow less capable of participating.
I have, on occasion encountered the argument that by removing them from the school system I am removing the chance that they will be bullied – and that this is a bad thing!? From what I understand, there are some that believe that by being bullied at school, the child will learn to cope with that situation and that this, in turn, will leave them better equipped for the adult-world.
I argue, however, that I would much rather instill a sense of self-confidence and strong self-esteem as nurtured through healthy social behaviour, so that should they encounter bullying as adults, they are so secure in their own beliefs, values, opinions that they can stand strong. I have yet to meet anyone who was glad that they were bullied at school, and felt that it gave them an advantage as they got older.
I certainly wouldn’t discount that some have had that experience, just that I’ve not met anyone who does, and it’s not what I personally want for my children.
A Broader View of Socialization
The truth of it is, is that most of us are all engaged in social interaction on a daily basis, and very few of us live in isolation. There are infinite ways to connect with each other both in the real world and in the virtual world (and I would argue that in this increasingly technology-focused society, both are equally important), and that there is no reason why a home-educated child should be any less socially aware than a school-educated child.
In fact, as a child of a location independent family, they would find that the sheer variety of interactions with people would far eclipse those available to a child who attended school with the same 25 children day in, day out. Exposure to different languages, different cultures, different customs is such a gift to give to a child, and should be valued as such, rather than adopting the attitude that they are in some way socially deprived.
I expect that there are many home-educating parents who have positive examples of socialization that have occured outwith the school establishment. Why not leave a comment sharing yours…
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