What is the number one homeschooling myth that drives homeschool parents crazy?
Does it have to do with Socialization and Homeschooling? You bet! This whole idea that homeschooled children must be isolated and not able to understand social cues, needs to stop! Because the fact is that homeschooled children do have a social life. Whether you’d like to believe it or not, socialization and homeschooling go hand in hand.
Naturally, you’d think because I was homeschooled and grew up in the country that socialization and homeschooling weren’t a pair for my siblings and I. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We went to homeschool events (yes, even back in the 90s). We had Christmas plays, and believe it or not I had a healthy social group filled with best friends.
My mom ran a soup kitchen in the city close to us, and she would take us with her every Tuesday to help prep food and serve the homeless. Sometimes when my dad had time off, he would come home and tell us to pack our bags. We’d jump in the truck with him and my mom and go for an adventure. We’d cross the border to the United States and travel up and down the East coast. Meeting tons of people, experiencing different parts of another country, and gaining valuable life experience.
Why the questions about Socialization and Homeschooling drive me crazy.
I started homeschooling my oldest daughter in 2015. I would get so frustrated with the constant questions from family, friends, neighbours and even strangers. A fan favourite was: “How are you going to socialize her?” Obviously, the same way you socialize other kids! It became increasingly difficult for me to restrain my attitude when I’d receive the same questions over and over again. By 2019, I had become a pro at answering these questions. I’d spew off all of the things that my children were participating in. Homeschool gymnastics, co-ops, French lessons, track and field, swimming lessons, park dates, field trips and more. My children have neighbourhood friends, homeschool friends and a long list of others. And, I was determined to prove to all the ‘What about socialization’ people that my kids were doing just fine in that department.
Then the pandemic hit, and with it brought isolation that we had never experienced before.
Now, I felt that I had to defend homeschooling in a whole new way.
Quickly I found that parents were taking to social media to say ‘Homeschooling sucks!’ when they were stuck in the thick of trying to deal with virtual learning. I remember telling people: “Virtual Learning, and pandemic learning are completely different from homeschooling.” But, not too many would agree with me.
Most parents assumed that because homeschooling was the same as virtual learning and isolation. This idea goes hand and hand with the myth that Homeschooled children don’t have a social life. When I chat with friends, acquaintances, my husband’s co-workers, and neighbours, the new question about socialization and homeschooling is: “Your lives wouldn’t have been that different because you already homeschooled before the pandemic.” Cue the eye roll. Yes, our lives were interrupted by the pandemic. Because, no, my children don’t just spend their time in the house reading books and ignoring the world outside. My children have had to go through isolation just like the rest of the children out there. We weren’t able to see friends, go to sports, activities, co-ops, and music lessons.
The issue lies with this idea that children need to go to traditional school in order to have a healthy social life. Is this actually accurate?
Before I answer that, I just want to clear something up first. It’s not Homeschooling against Traditional Education. It’s not a matter of ‘what’s better overall’. The point is, that homeschool parents are doing an excellent job of teaching their children, caring for them, cultivating their interests, and helping them to have a thriving social life. Public School parents are doing an excellent job also. Each family must decide what works best for them, traditional education or homeschool. Neither is wrong, so neither need to be bashed. But, for whatever reason Homeschooled parents are the ones that are constantly bombarded with the questions and the comments. The ones that are forever being asked about socialization and homeschooling. Why is that?
I really don’t know. I’d like to say it’s because it’s not the ‘normal’, and people don’t understand when something is different. But, that’s really not the case. Because since 2012 homeschooling has been on the up and up in both Canada and the United States. More and more families are turning to in-home education. I should point out that the turn towards homeschooling started well before the pandemic.
Am I just being defensive because it was our choice to homeschool? So, I feel I must defend their socialization to everyone that asks?
That could be. But I choose to look at facts and research first. Not just at my family and our social lives. But at the many, many homeschooling families around the world. Then looking at how their social lives compare to those of traditional education. According to Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research, “Studies demonstrate that homeschooled students are well socialized.”
“Several studies found no significant difference in the social skills of homeschooled and non-homeschooled students. Other studies found that homeschooled children score significantly higher on social development rating scales/questionnaires. For instance, one study using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, a well-tested diagnostic tool of measuring communication and daily living skills, found that homeschooled students substantially outperformed traditionally schooled students. The average overall score for the homeschooled children on communication, daily living skills, socialization, and social maturity subscales was at the 84thpercentile compared to the 23rd percentile for the traditional schooled students.”
That’s an interesting find. Isn’t it?
Could it be that Homeschool parents are right to feel frustrated when people ask them the same questions about socialization and homeschooling?
Through direct observations and recording his findings on the standardized measure known as the Child Behavior Checklist, Richard Medlin, PhD, was able to measure students’ social skills. He compared the social behaviour of seventy homeschooled and seventy traditionally schooled eight to ten-year-olds. “These students were matched along demographic and socio-economic lines and found no significant differences between the two groups regarding measures of self-concept and assertiveness.” Read about it here!
Interestingly enough, Dr. Richard Medlin found that, based on the checklist, non-homeschooled students had more behaviour difficulties than homeschooled ones.
Want to know another really cool fact about socialization and homeschooling? When formerly homeschooled college students rated their own characteristics and personality traits. (They did this through a standardized measure called the NEO Five-Factor Inventory- 3. )These students showed to be significantly more agreeable, conscientious, and open minded than the national sample, consisting of mostly traditionally schooled children.
How could this possibly be the case?
Shouldn’t homeschooled children be the ones struggling with socialization? Nope. Why is that? Do traditionally schooled children have a social life because of the classroom setting? The answer is simple, no. When children are in class, they aren’t to talk. Socialization happens on the playground, on class trips, playdates, sports, volunteer work, in music and art classes. And guess what? Homeschooled children have all the same opportunities and often more!
The conclusion is, homeschooled children are not isolated, socially-lacking creatures.
Despite the myths surrounding socialization and homeschooling, homeschooled children do have a healthy social life. So, next time someone starts to question how your homeschooled child could possibly have a social life. Remember these facts, or point them to this blog! It’s time to break down the stereotype that homeschooled children are destined to be socially awkward.
Read more from Schoolio about Socialization and Homeschooling, click here!
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