Probably the biggest issue that parents are worried about once they decide to homeschool their children is that it might severely affect their socialization skills. “Society often makes it seem that people need to have many friends, attend social activities often, socialize by initiating and maintaining conversation often, and so on,” states Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA.
With the vast advantages of homeschooling (a notable one is the increasing number of kids who were homeschooled landing an Ivy League university education), it’s no wonder that a lot of parents are now well convinced that it is a viable option for their children’s future. But what about the lack of socialization? There seem to be debates left and right about the damaging effects of homeschooling to children’s social skills. Are home-based learning systems really robbing children of the chance to mingle and interact?
Does Socialization Suffer?
Academically speaking, homeschooled kids are far more superior than those children who are sent to traditional schools. According to Dona Matthews Ph.D., “Some parents take responsibility for teaching their child for part of a day, with the child attending school for some subjects or extracurricular activities, like sports or math or music.” However, it cannot be disqualified from parents the concern about their kids’ exposure to other kids and having constant communication with members of an academic institution.
Parents have this notion that the moment they subject their children to homeschooling, they are turning them into isolated, lonesome individuals, stuck inside the home without people to socialize with. But it’s not what it seems. And on the contrary, it’s the other way around.
Socialization and Homeschooling
So what it is then? Home-based learning systems engage children in numerous opportunities to interact efficiently and productively with other people without having the negative experiences that come along with it in typical school settings. The abundance of gangs, bullying, emotional and physical torture, and violence have been reported to be growing and are directly affecting children’s well-being and educational stature. Is this the kind of socialization parents think of that they are depriving their kids of?
When the world outside threatens the very essence of your children’s existence, aren’t you more worried about that than stripping your kids of superficial socialization?
Homeschooled children have more or equal opportunities in participating in fruitful socialization. “Research shows that in terms of self-concept, self-esteem and the ability to get along in groups, homeschoolers do just as well as their public school peers,” says Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. Unlike what the majority thinks of kids being trapped inside the four lonely walls of the house, homeschoolers have the convenience and the choice to be selective of their friends and groups to hang out with. Parents can stay in touch with other homeschoolers who their children can communicate and play with, do meetups, enjoy field trips and outings, gather in museums, zoos, planetariums, playing sports, rehearsing theater pieces, painting, participating in community activities, volunteering, and the list goes on.
Homeschoolers get to do the same activities that kids at regular schools get to do, thereby enhancing social interaction within the safety and comfort of their own home.
How Homeschooling Socialization Works
Here are a couple of ways for parents to connect their kids with other homeschooled children:
- Support Groups
With the increasing population of homeschoolers across the country, the rise of support groups for kids schooled at home is becoming more and more popular. These organizations arrange a wide variety of opportunities that enable socialization during organized activities in parks, field trips, and meet-up classes.
- Summer Camps
Want to take socialization further into the wild blue yonder? There are summer camps available that facilitate interaction with other homeschoolers where they can learn about farms, outer space, and Mother Nature.
Nothing like a quick game of basketball to perk up socialization in homeschooled kids. A lot of park affiliations have outstanding programs for numerous sports activities for the whole year. There are even recreational centers that have daytime classes specifically modified for homeschooled teams. Check with your local center for more details.
These activities to enhance socialization are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more parents can do to let their children engage in opportunities to make new friends and have meaningful friendships.