The Properly Socialized Homeschooler

Home is a great place to learn about a lot of things, including socialization. Wild Child, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Years ago, I chatted with a public school educator who upbraided me on our family decision to homeschool our children.

“I can’t argue with you that what you’re doing academically is superior,” she said. “Your ability to give one on one time to each student, as well as your freedom to customize subject matter to their interests and learning levels, is beyond anything I could do in the classroom.”

At this point, I was thinking, “And the problem is . . .?”

“But,” she continued, and this is the big But that moons about any hostile discussion of homeschooling,

“What about socialization?”

I bet you’ve heard that one before. I heard it so many times that I was actually able to come up with a clever repartee:

“It’s because we want our children to be normally socialized that we homeschool them.”

That’s not just a smart retort; it’s something that I increasingly see as true.

At the base, as always, is the concept of “normal,” and what this animal really looks like. Because the bulk of our child populace attends public school, with its age-segregated, oversized

Getting away from the crowd can take us to pristine, awe inspiring places. Lady of the Lake, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition art print at Great Big Canvas.

classrooms, “normal” means dealing with peer pressure, conforming to a group standard so that you won’t get made fun of, seeking out the approval of the popular caste, and hiding hard work, ambition, or intelligence so you won’t be labeled a teacher’s pet or overachiever.

The goal is to fit in and not shake the boat, which trains people admirably for a later life of working under corporate cubicle infrastructure. For all we talk about creativity and celebrating our differences, when those two people walk into the room, we generally encourage them to leave.

My instructor friend went on to comment on her experience with homeschooled children who had matriculated into her classroom:

“They ask too many questions,” she said, “and they frequently want to know why we are doing what we are doing.”

What an interesting thing to complain about.

While at some point, in all of our lives, we simply must shut up and do what needs to be done, it’s sad that as an aspect of normal socialization, this process must begin so early, and continue for so long. Don’t we want a populace that asks questions, and wants to know why it is we’re doing what we’re doing?

It’s intriguing that homeschooled children — who are frequently accused of being raised in a “sheltered environment” — are known for a spirit of gregariousness, being willing to talk to people of all ages, from very young children to the elderly, and the major beef about them is that they don’t deal as well with a cluster of their peers.

So normal, in our society, is that you function — not necessarily thrive — in your peer group, but don’t interact well with those below or above you — sometimes as little as one grade level.

As I said, it’s because we wanted our children so socialize normally that we decided to homeschool them.

Questing, questioning, exploring people — that’s a good thing. Bold Innocence; licensed open edition art print by Steve Henderson at Great Big Canvas.

It’s not a simple matter of the public school system being wrong and the homeschoolers being right — no complex issue can be reduced to System A on one side and System B on the other. Many public school students are outgoing and friendly, even those who are quiet, just as many homeschoolers are as well. And within both public school and homeschool environments, there are children who seem awkward, shy, introverted — our society labels this abnormal, although what is preferable about a social butterfly incapable of establishing or maintaining deep, significant relationships, I don’t know.

It is a matter, however, of truly looking at this “diversity” word that a noisy, minority — yet powerful — segment of our society bandies about, and acknowledging that we’re really not looking for, celebrating, or even accepting the individual differences that make up human beings.

Mavericks, exhibiting a true independent spirit, are harder and harder to find in real life, and while we read about them in books and see them in Clint Eastwood movies, when they stand up in the middle of the crowd and say, “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, is he?” the distressing response is,

“You’re so unsocialized. You must have been homeschooled.”

Keep it up, homeschooling community. We need this type of socialization.

When you truly put your family first, you will automatically be outside the norm.

You want to save money? Then you’ll find yourself living differently and outside the “norm.”

As homeschoolers, you know what it’s like to live on less so that you can follow your principles, and I encourage you to look at my book, Live Happily on Less, for ideas on how you can improve even more.

I know — you’re the choir, and you’re already saving money. But I’m willing to bet that you haven’t gone as far as I have, and that our experience — in which we built our home on land we saved up and purchased, resulting in a mortgage-free life — has something, anything, to add to your arsenal of money-saving lifestyle activities.

$12.99 paperback (usually on sale for less), $5.99 digital, free to AmazonPrime members. At Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Join me Thursdays at This Woman Writes for my articles on Homeschooling, based upon 20 years of math, reading, and cookie baking with my four progeny. Join me, also, at my Commonsense Christianity column at BeliefNet. The latest posts are Not All Homeschoolers Are Christian, Only . . . BELIEVE, and Three Halloween No No’s for Christians.

This article is linked to Thriving Thursdays, Live Laugh Rowe, We Are That Family, Jenny Mullinix, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, Katherine’s Corner, Graced Simplicity, Day 2 Day Joys, Living Well Spending Less, Mama BZZ, Holistic Squid, Simply Helping Him, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, A Wise Woman, Wholehearted Home, Deep Roots at Home, A Little R and R, Walking Redeemed, Growing Home, Teaching What Is Good, Moms the Word, Nourishing Joy, My Joy Filled Life, A Mama’s Story

 

 

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6 Responses to “The Properly Socialized Homeschooler”

  1. Tara says:

    Well written post, thank you for that short and sweet response, I think I will use it. Have a wonderful day. Tara.

  2. “when they stand up in the middle of the crowd and say, “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, is he?” the distressing response is, ‘You’re so unsocialized. You must have been homeschooled.’”

    That’s a great line. There really is a cultural difference between kids who’ve gone through mainstream school and kids who haven’t (equivalent, but milder, to the difference between people who grew up in the U.S. and people who didn’t). It’s worth acknowledging that this difference DOES make it harder for some home school grads to fit in with their peers after high school graduation. However, the real question is whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and most of us would say that they definitely do!

    • Anna — your comment about the difference between those who grew up in the U.S., and those who didn’t, is apt and to the point.

      I will be eternally grateful that I lived overseas, briefly, as a child, and that the Norwegian Artist and I traveled, and lived, in South America before we had kids. Though we were unable to take our children overseas, we did our best to live with different standards and teach them to not look at U.S. values as universal ones.

  3. Calyn says:

    Love the response you have. I normally say something along the lines of… “Studies show that most home school children actually have better relationships as adults across the board socially.” Which is entirely true and makes sense when you think about it.

    Homeschool children’s base self view is rooted in their family’s constant love and relationship. Not in the continually changing accounts of other children- whom public schoolers spend the majority of their social time with. The home schooled child takes that foundation of their self worth and that prototype of a stable relationship with them throughout their life and into every other relationship.

    I think I always understood that on some level, but when making the final to home school or not to home school decision with my oldest I stumbled on a study article that outlined that pretty well (much better then I have here) and that was pretty much the final nail in the public school coffin for us.

    • Thank you, Calyn. I like your observation in the second paragraph, “Homeschool children’s base self view is rooted in their family’s constant love and relationship.”

      That says a tremendous amount. — Carolyn

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