Often, when people find out we've decided to homeschool our children, they immediately ask 2 questions. The first is usually a question about meeting educational requirements and the second is usually about socialization. Since my children are older and have spent most of their educational lives in public school, people tend to assume they know how to interact with adults and children. When most people hear "homeschool" they tend to stereotype the family as "strange" and "unsocialized". They assume that the children have no exposure to activities outside of the family and they question the parents ability to find social outlets for their child. I am not saying that there aren't families out there who DON'T seek out social activities, but what I AM saying is most families who homeschool have well adjusted and happy children.
Take a moment and think back to your own school days. Did you enjoy school? Did you make friends easily? What did or didn't you like about school?
Here are my answers:
I generally liked school. I usually enjoyed my teachers and I had a few close friends. I was not the most popular kid in school, but I also wasn't the "loner" who sat alone at lunch time. However, there were always "THOSE" kids who would occasionally pick on me and call me names. In elementary school, it was because I struggled in math and needed extra help. Kids would tell me I was stupid because I was a year behind in math. By junior high, the "stupid" label was gone but there were a couple of girls who decided they needed to call me a choice name. I didn't know them and could not understand why on earth they would want to call me names! I was a nice, quiet girl who kept to herself and stayed with her group of friends. I chose to ignore those girls(mostly 1 girl) and eventually she stopped calling me names. By the time I reached high school, no one was picking on me. I actually enjoyed high school and have fond memories of friends and fun times.
That said, here is how I feel about kids and socialization. I do not feel that school is the ONLY place a child can learn how to socialize. In fact, I think there are much better choices out there. Yes, school allows children to meet other children but it is not the end all be all of socialization. If you think about it, when a child is in elementary school, he or she is more likely to be bullied out on the playground or at lunch time. In junior high and high school it happens in the halls, on the bus, in a lunch room and now with modern technology it happens in texts and other methods of electronical communication. For example, I have one child still attending public school. He is in resource for reading. He is a smart boy but struggles with reading. Recently, while sitting at lunch with some peers, a couple of the boys decided to tell my son he was "dumb" because he couldn't read well. My son, being the individual he is, promptly replied that he WAS smart because he was "good at math". Yay Mr. I! Way to stand up for yourself and put those kids in their places. To make the pot sweeter, a week after those boys teased my son, he scored a perfect 100% on his math unit test. He was one of FIVE kids in a class of 25to do that. :) So yup... math is his subject!
Now that I have gone off topic a bit, let me go back to my original thought: Kids do not need to attend school to learn healthy social skills. For example, my children are involved in a homeschool group. Most of the children in this homeschool group, have been homeschooled most if not all of their academic careers. Last month, my children attended a "kick off" event. When we arrived, both of my children were very quiet. Neither of them knew what to expect. The other kids all ran around together and seemed excited to be together. My children were new to the group and did not know anyone. They stood to the side for a bit until a couple kids came over and grabbed each one! Later that night we returned to pick them up. Both had made new friends. My conclusion is that homeschool kids DO know how to socialize and in some ways, better then my once traditionally schooled kids socialize. :) Yup... I think my kids will be JUST fine! In fact, I think they will be fantastic!