And Socialization

With the growing numbers of homeschooled kids getting into Ivy League universities, most people would now agree that homeschooling is a wonderful option for helping your children achieve academic excellence. But what about socialization? Do homeschooled children really lack in social skills? Read on to learn more about the homeschooling socialization debate.

What about socialization?

Studies show that homeschooled kids are on par or even academically superior to traditionally schooled children. But the question always remains, "What about socialization?" Of course, it is easy to imagine homeschooled children as sad and lonely social misfits, stuck at home without anyone to socialize with. But this is far from the truth.

Author of The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling Rachel Gathercole explains, "It seems intrinsically obvious that homeschoolers must be socially deprived. After all, while others are in school, they are not. While schoolchildren ride the school bus, homeschoolers, in general, do not. While the conventionally-schooled spend their days with large groups of peers, homeschoolers, it may seem, do not. But homeschooling is not what people generally imagine it to be."

The social benefits of homeschooling

But if homeschooling is not what people imagine it to be, then what is it? Homeschooling affords children many wonderful opportunities to socialize without all the negative de-socializing experiences that children in traditional schools often encounter. Media coverage of bullying, teasing, gangs, cliques, violence, physical and emotional abuse in public schools is abundant. Patrick Farenga, former publisher of Growing Without Schooling and co-author of Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, says, "I am amazed how people think this type of socialization is the best we can offer children. 'It's the real world,' is a sad, and wrong, response."

Homeschooled children have equal, if not more, opportunities to participate in meaningful socialization. Unlike the public perception of homeschoolers trapped at home with nothing to do and no one to interact with, "Homeschoolers are at each other's houses, playing, gathering in parks, meeting for classes in churches, homes, and public buildings, going on outings and field trips together to museums, zoos, other cities and towns, planetariums, bakeries, concerts, shows, plays, and workshops, sitting on riverbanks having talks with close friends, playing on soccer teams, rehearsing plays, having parties, painting murals in the community, volunteering, and much more. They learn both in and out of the home, at all hours of the day," Gathercole explains.

Homeschooled children enjoy homeschooling

Adults can extol the virtues of any educational method all day long, but what do homeschooled kids think about homeschooling? Do they wish they could go to school like "normal" kids? Not according to Sebastien, a 12-year-old boy who was homeschooled for 3 years and now attends school. "I liked homeschooling a lot better than school. It was a lot better because my mom knew me and how I learned, so she was able to help me learn the way I learn. I had friends in my sports activities. I had lots of friends. All the kids that I played sports with were homeschooled. I had more close friends before, when I was homeschooled. Now, in school, there are friends, but not as close."

Where can homeschoolers connect with one another?

Are you a homeschool family looking for ways to connect and socialize with other homeschoolers? Here are some great opportunities for meaningful socialization:

  • Homeschool support groups. Considering the rapidly growing number of homeschoolers nationwide, most cities now have not just one, but many homeschool support groups. These groups provide a wide range of opportunities to socialize from parks meets and play dates to field trips and organized classes. Visit for a listing of local homeschool support groups in your area.
  • Homeschool classes in your community. With over two million homeschoolers in the U.S., many recreation centers, museums, zoos, theatres, libraries and other community resources are now offering daytime classes for homeschool kids. Check your local listings and see what's available in your very own neighborhood!
  • Summer camps. Want to help your child meet some friends that love to ride horses or learn about outer space as much as he does? How about signing your child up for a fun summer camp?
  • Scouts. Scouting is a great way to meet other family who share similar values. The Scout program is designed to help young people build character and train them in the responsibilities of good citizenship. Scouting is also a wonderful way to meet families from both inside and outside the homeschool community.
  • Sports. Love soccer? Tennis? Basketball? Baseball? Most park and recreation centers have excellent programs for a variety of sports all year round. Call your local center for a catalogue. Some rec centers even have special daytime classes or sports teams offered especially for homeschoolers.
  • Volunteer opportunities. Whether at your local soup kitchen, animal shelter, children's hospital or other non-profit, volunteering is a great way for your homeschooler to learn about the importance of giving, while providing wonderful opportunities to make new friends.
  • Community college. When homeschool kids reach the teen years, they are often ready to take advantage of the higher level classes at nearby community colleges. This is a great opportunity for homeschoolers to experience a more traditional learning environment, as well as interact with youth and adults of all ages.

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Comments on "Are homeschooled kids really lacking in socialization?" December 10, 2013 | 2:08 PM

My children attend music classes, language classes, STEM club, co-ops that taught art and such, sports, do weekly volunteering, have lead book clubs, have been in plays and talent shows, and hang out with both homeschooled and non-homeschooled kids each week. Homeschooling is hard work and not everyone can or should. My wife works from home and we take turns teaching and carpooling. Doing all those extracurricular activities might sound overwhelming till you see that IS our homeschooling curriculum, minus the work books and text books that tend to get done year round on car trips to field trips or on the couch in PJ's when other kids might complain they are bored. We started homeschooling because we could not think of one reason to sent them to a brick and mortar school.

Sue December 10, 2013 | 1:32 PM

In Wi about 1 out of 23 kids homeschool(not the norm but not that odd). The main reason I started homeschooling was the fact that my gifted son (If you actually understand being gifted this is not a bragging point) hated school and would shut down and refuse to perform (like a trained dog or child his age). My son is naturally shy, my other homeschooled kids are naturally extroverted social butterflies. My shy guy has trouble dealing with people that talk down to him or expect him to act like a child his age or collage professor. Now being homeschooled he has learned to interact with people of all ages yet if you want to see him act “unsocialized” just start quizzing him or asking him those annoying questions homeschoolers get(just the fact that people assume he is shy because he homeschools and badger him with questions on homeschooling). Personally we have things going on each day and know hundreds of homeschooled kids and adults (they are all different). My son fits in amongst creative deep thinkers of any age but if you expect him to giggle at dumb jokes or "act his age" he will just excuse himself and walk away, he learned that from his favorite techer ; P My other kids love attention, silliness, and kids their own age yet they never get asked if they are homeschooled only why they have off of school and then the subject changes... why?

Sue O January 13, 2013 | 7:33 PM

My two home schooled kids are grown, college educated, employed and married. But my youngest had this reply when people asked about socialization. She'd say "now in your public school, I know you socialize, but do you receive any actual education?" That usually stopped the question right there.

MomOf2 August 04, 2011 | 12:59 AM

I've always respected homeschoolers and have family members who also homeschool but recently encountered a family of homeschoolers in my neighborhood who's children seem to lack empathy (odd considering one of their number is medically fragile). The oldest two (both under 10) make rude comments about the exclusivity of their school, my daughter's build (there's nothing wrong with her shape/size), and have made it plain that they don't like/want to play with my son and daughter. Now, I'm sure these children were taught to be proud of their unique educational set-up and close-knit family but they seem incapable of expressing that pride without simultaneously denegrating my children. The neighbor kids are clearly gifted academically but sorely lacking in social grace and now I'm terrified about how best to approach their mother about her kids' meanness.

dhg72 July 27, 2011 | 10:34 PM

holy cow, drink the kool-aid much? Just because you were all misfits doesn't mean you should subject your children to being at home with other counter-culture cult members. Public schools are far from perfect but life isn't perfect either. Haven't met a home-schooled person that wasn't "off" a bit. It's a good way to control and manipulate your child by limiting the points of view they be subjected to and the children they will be subjected to. It's all an attempt to control the environment to your own benefit. Seriously, home-schooling field trips? flag football with 6 to 16? that doesn't even make fooling around together does not provide teamwork skills like age appropriate teams where kids learn to compete and work harder for greater rewards. If I was home schooled I would've never learned to overcome do you simulate a negative environment where a child will become stronger as they fight to overcome? I guess you can all keep patting yourselves on the back like some strange cult.

Brenda June 26, 2011 | 5:10 PM

Hi Naomi, I get this question too, even though we are online schooling through a public school, and this is our 3rd year. We get the benefits of free materials, teachers and a computer, without the downsides of "brick and mortar". I especially enjoy the field trips where almost every child has a parent with them. So much more pleasant than chaperoned trips I've volunteered for! I agree with Shelley that you don't really know what goes on in school until you are there. But, I disagree that you are getting a true picture. I'm sure at least the bus experience was altered by my presence.

Shelley June 26, 2011 | 1:21 PM

I started homeschooling in 1998 after being a room mom in my daughter's first grade class. Nothing will convince you until you spend some serious time in your child's school. You don't know what goes on there until you ARE there. There's good, bad, and some ugly. Spend some time helping in the class. Ride the bus with your child. Eat lunch with them. Help in special programs. You'll start to see what I did. Then some back here and comment.

Danny June 18, 2011 | 8:56 AM

Real Question....How many parents begin homeschooling because at least one of there children has some challenges learning or some challenges in social settings?

Sherri June 17, 2011 | 9:58 AM

I love this question. My children are grown, but my response when we were homeschooling was: Every day, in addition to our lessons, my children go with me wherever I go into the world. We talk with people in shops, at the zoo, and in lots of places; we ask questions and relate to people of many different backgrounds and ages. Then, after the regular school day ends, all the kids in the neighborhood come over to our house to play, make things, and otherwise just be together. Those kids have been in school all day in a room full of kids their age, often confined to desks and told not to talk with each other, standing in line for lunch and other things, with a very short period of recess (if they are lucky) in which to interact with the other kids. If they do work together on projects, it is for very short periods of time. They are eager for the socialization they get at my house. Now, my goal is to have my kids be able to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds and be able to make their way in the world. Which model of socialization do you think fosters this better?

JennyLee June 17, 2011 | 5:55 AM

My kids are not homeschooled now, but I think homeschooling kids get to interact with all kinds of age groups. In the schools, kids only interact with their age group unless given outside opportunities. Homeschooled kids have that advantage of interaction with all age groups because they participate in many activities. It's sad bullying goes in schools so much even without the teacher's attention sometimes. Homeschooled kids don't have to go through that which is a nice plus so they can concentrate on more important issues.

Rachael June 16, 2011 | 4:54 PM

TPM: "deal with others who have differing opinions,and people who are 'bullies'." Raised in a hardcore homeschooling family, I must say there were PLENTY of heated debates with the other homeschooled kids, but no bullies. Why would you ever want your kid to gain experience with bullies?

Tpm June 16, 2011 | 1:29 PM

"Do homeschooled children really lack in social skills? Read on to learn more about the homeschooling socialization debate." It wasn't a debate. It was a one sided argument. I personally don't belive in homeschooling but i suppose thats because I'm from the UK and it's not really a big thing here. I wouldn't argue that homeschooled childdren would be less socialised than others, but it's the social situations they are a part of. All homeschooled children's social situations mentioned in the 'debate' are controlled and attended by likeminded children. where does this help the child to deal with others who have differing opinions,and people who are 'bullies'. Do they learn social resilience, or the ability to shrugg off negative comments from children who have nothing in common with them?

Emma Kaufmann June 16, 2011 | 7:54 AM

I don't think people should avoid sending their kids to public schools due to media coverage of bullying, teasing, gangs, cliques, violence, physical and emotional abuse in public schools. You have to stay on top of the situation and pick the right school. In my daughters' school there is no bullying because teachers monitor the situation and there are very severe penalties for kids who do it. I don't think homeschooled kids are necessarily less socialized but personally it is not a choice I'd make mainly because I don't have the patience for one thing.

Georgia Dave June 16, 2011 | 7:29 AM

I continue to love the assumption that a child can only learn to interact with others in school. Because nothing like putting 30 kids in a room with one adult to encourage good behavior and common courtesy. Most homeschoolers I know are more mature and able to interact with both adults and other kids in a more effective manner.

Maya Gouliard June 16, 2011 | 7:29 AM

One more thing. A huge benefit to homeschool socialization is that children play with a larger age group. Peers in a public school are usually within a year of your own age, whereas in homeschool groups peers are all ages. Our homeschool flag football team has children from 6 to 16. Our group that meets every Friday morning at a local park has children from babies to high schoolers all running and talking together. These children also get a lot of chances to socialize with other parents.

Maya Gouliard June 16, 2011 | 7:08 AM

Thank you Naomi. After 10 years of homeschooling this question still gets thrown at me. Although it is obvious to anyone who might spend a week with us that this is a non-issue for - it still remains a top ten "problem with homeschooling". Great article, definitely sharing.

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