“Socialization is a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identify and learns the norms, values, behaviors, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” That’s the Random House dictionary’s definition of socialization and another definition is the act of socializing.
Why would socialization be an issue for a homeschooled child? All parents help to socialize their children. We teach them manners, i.e., how to say please and thank you; how to be kind to others; how to accept others for who they are; and how to get along with diverse people. Parents are the biggest influence in socializing their children? If children were never taught correct behavior and proper social skills at home, how would they recognize inappropriate behavior?
There are others who help socialize our children too, and we embrace their positive influence. The Sunday school teacher or the cub scout leader are good choices while the neighborhood gossip or the town drunk are not. Lots of confusion over socialization and social experiences exists among non-homeschooling folks. Socialization occurs at home, and it also occurs in other environments. There is also good socialization and bad socialization.
When my now 10-year-old son was 8, he briefly (for two months) attended public school. During PE, a 3rd grade girl approached one of my son’s friends and made a sexual proposition to him. This is an example of extremely bad and inappropriate peer socialization (or call it a negative social experience) that no parent wants or expects their 3rd grader to have at school.
An example of good socialization occurred when my son attended a homeschool co-op exploratory art class. During the class, students talked about their projects as they worked on them, made suggestions to their classmates, and helped each other–a great example of good socialization and a positive social experience.
Concerned non-homeschoolers mistakenly believe that homeschooled children won’t have social experiences (or socialize), won’t know the structure of a classroom, won’t understand what’s expected of them in the real world, and won’t be able to adapt as adults. Far from the truth, homeschoolers have myriad social experiences; attend the classes of their choice; know how to get along with others; and are well adapted.
Social experiences take place at the grocery store, the science museum, the children’s choir, the baseball league, the girl scout meeting and countless other places. This is why homeschoolers are ahead of the game–good socialization and real world social experiences prepare them for life. The peer pressure and artificial experiences of children who attend school often lead to group think and negative behavior. It is difficult to be your authentic self when you are focused on conforming to the crowd’s standard.
In reference to the Random House dictionary’s definition of socialization, if we want our children to acquire a personal identify and learn proper social skills, homeschooling continues to serve them well.
Homeschooling Grows Up: Socialization
Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World
Socialization: Homeschooling vs. Schools