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 Homeschool.com 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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