The 3 Biggest Social Benefits of Homeschooling

Family Matters on 11.22.11

Without fail, telling someone you are homeschooling your children will promptly be followed by the question, "Aren't you worried about socialization?" The socialization question is actually quite amusing to me because I can distinctly recall more than one teacher in school saying to me, "We are not here to socialize, young lady, please keep quiet!" So, which is it--are we in school to socialize or are we not? 

 To be totally honest, I am not worried about my kids' socialization at all. In fact, I believe there are many social benefits to homeschooling -- here are my top three.

1. Beyond Peer Interaction: Someday when our children are all grown up, they will work in a job that will require them to interact with their colleagues. My guess is that their office will not be filled with twenty other people who are the exact same age, who live in the same area, or who have the same experiences. Children who are homeschooled are exposed to this benefit of interacting with a variety of different aged people at an earlier age. In fact, many people note how well homeschooled children are able to interact with a variety of people, both young and old. 

2. Stronger Family Ties: With kids and parents running in a million directions, family time can often be scarce. I once heard it said that it's not quality time that matters, but quantity time. By homeschooling my children, I have the added benefit of quantity time--being around them for the whole day. During this time we are able to get to know each other on a deeper level, seeing each other's good and bad sides. I have the enormous task of being their role model for the proper way to handle daily situations (and I don't always handle things the right way). My kids witness firsthand how I interact with my friends, how I conduct myself in a stressful situation, and how I deal with a miscommunication with my husband. Ultimately, there is no replacement for time when it comes to bonding as a family.

3. Escape From the Social Hierarchy and Bullies: There is no denying that homeschooled children are sheltered from many of the things they would be exposed to by attending school. But who says that's a bad thing? My daughter won't know what it's like to be the most popular girl in school (hey, I can dream), but she will also not know what it feels like to be excluded from the in-crowd. As any schooled person can tell you, being popular comes at a price -- and so does being shunned by your peers.

It's not that my daughter won't ever experience the pain of being left out, either. When she is not invited to the sleepover a few girls on her soccer team are having, or when there is no room left in the car where all her friends are riding in to our homeschool field trip, she will still experience those same emotions. The major difference is that I will be there to help her put the situation in context, and she won't have to navigate it alone. Exposing a child to bullies certainly doesn't makes a child tougher -- it just teaches them that others can be mean. In the past ten years we have seen so much backlash from children who were bullied, ranging from school shootings to suicides; I sincerely hope that no child has to suffer the pain and devastation of being rejected, but if homeschooling lets me shield my daughter from some of it and help her through the rest, I think that is a huge benefit. 

How do you answer questions about socialization and your homeschooled kids?

Photo: Michael1952/CreativeCommons

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