If you follow my blog or my fan page you have probably noticed that I homeschool my son. We have been homeschooling for the past two years, even though this is his first “official” year a s a kindergartner. Over the years since I announced my intentions to homeschool Christian at least through elementary school, I have received a fair share of questions (as well as unsolicited advice and criticism, lol). Since I’ve gotten sort of tired of answering the same questions over and over again (and would also like to contribute to addressing some of the misconceptions surrounding homeschool), I thought I would take some time to do a few blog posts about frequently asked questions. First up: the hot topic of socialization.
If you ask any homeschooling parent what the main question/criticism people have about homeschooling, I can almost guarantee that they will say something about socialization. I swear that every single person I tell about my decision to homeschool says something about this topic. Some of them are polite about it: “So, what do you do about socialization?” However, I have heard the question phrased 20 different ways – some of them not polite at all.
How is he socialized?
What about socialization? I hope you’ve thought about that.
Aren’t you afraid he is going to end up weird and unsocialized?
How is he ever going to make friends?
I’ve always felt like homeschoolers were a bit stunted in the social department.
I don’t think that’s a good idea. Kids need to be around other kids.
Don’t you think that is going to put him at a disadvantage when it comes to the real world and dealing with other people?
Do you guys ever even leave the house? I don’t think it’s good for kids to be cooped up inside all day.
I could go on and on.
It’s almost like they have ingrained that one scene from Mean Girls in their minds, lol.
I suppose that since homeschool has the word “home” in it, people have the misconception that we stay at home 24/7 – never venturing out to do things or see other people. Perhaps they imagine we are some type of mole family.
However, that is not the case.
Setting aside the undeniable fact that Christian is one the most sociable kids I have EVER met (he thinks everyone is his best friend – whether they are 8 months old or 80 years old), there are actually a wide variety of ways that homeschoolers can experience socialization.
A homeschool co-op is when a group of homeschool families gather together to learn from and with one another. In my experience from being involved in 2 co-ops, there is a leadership board that works with the other homeschool parents to decide on the mission of the homeschool and how they will carry it out. Both of the co-ops we have participated in offered several really cool classes for the kids to take. Here are some examples:
Greek Mythology (which I taught for two classes)
Kids Craft Kitchen (cooking)
Basic First Aid
Icky Icthyology (learning about fish)
Creature Features (learning about animals)
Character First (Character Education)
Elementary Reading Skills & Strategies
Magic School Bus Science
Edible Plants and Foraging
The parents serve as the teachers – many choosing to teach classes that they are passionate about. They come up with the curriculum and provide a list of materials or fees that are required. Parents are able to enroll their kids in however many classes are permitted. Foe example, the co-op we participate in meets once a week for 3 hours, so I was able to enroll Christian in three separate classes. I let him choose two and chose the third one myself. The classes are taught in a classroom setting inside of a building that we rent (usually a church that has a lot of different classrooms available during the week). So not only are our children around a lot of kids of varying ages (preschool all the way through high school), they also get practice learning in a classroom environment.
Field trips are also a big part of homeschool. Not only do we go on field trips with our co-ops and other homeschoolers, we also schedule field trips on our own, where Christian is able to interact with other kids and families. Here is a picture from 2 years ago when our co-op went to a nearby hay maze/pumpkin patch. Christian is the little one on the left side in a red shirt.
Church is another place where kids are able to interact with one another. Especially at church events. In fact, just this weekend, we attended a monthly community brunch hosted by a nearby church where Christian and I spent 45 minutes chatting with a table full of strangers. Before we left, all of the adults commented on how smart and friendly Christian is. One even asked us to come visit her at her job.
Many homeschool children participate in a variety of sports, either through the school system (thanks to the Tim Tebow Law), through community leagues, or through homeschool groups. Christian has played on a soccer team and will likely play basketball this year and football in the Spring.
Clubs and Organizations
Homeschoolers are also able to join clubs and organizations. For example, Christian is a member of 4-H, which offers a wide variety of clubs and sports, such as chess, archery, horseback riding, and more. They are also able to join school and community groups based on their interests.
Another way that homeschoolers can become involved in their community is through volunteering. For example, we have the opportunity to volunteer each week at a local food pantry.
Let’s not forget about the fact that many of us meet up with friends throughout the week. On a good week, Christian has 3 playdates – with friends that are homeschooled AND public schooled.
Playing Around the Neighborhood
Also, there’s always the possibility of just going outside to play. Either with the neighbors or at the playground. Christian loves going to any of our local playgrounds and has absolutely no trouble fitting in with the kids there.
As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities for socialization. What it really boils down to is whether people take advantage of them. Just as with ANY parent, what your child is exposed to is largely up to you. Some people choose to engage in a lot of activities. Others, just a few. Some may choose not to engage in any for whatever reason. We all do what we think is best for our family.
I hope that this has helped to address the question “How are homeschoolers socialized”.
Topic for Discussion: Do you have any questions about homeschooling that you’d like me to address? Let me know in the comments below!