The most common charge against homeschool is that it leaves children poorly socialized. You hear it all the time—“Homeschool kids have no social skills!” While there may be some truth to this claim, it is certainly not a good reason to avoid homeschooling.
I say there may be some truth to this claim because there are at least some homeschool children with poor social skills. However, even if we have seen examples of homeschool children who are socially awkward, this should not be seen as a necessary product of homeschooling. This criticism is a gross overgeneralization and ignores the fact that there are also socially awkward children in the public schools.
Seeing that public schooling emerged a little over 150 years ago in America, we are left with the question—were all children “poorly socialized” before mass public schooling? Obviously this was not the case.
So in order to quiet this criticism just a little, here are three points of response to the charge that homeschoolers are poorly socialized:
(1) There are even greater problems of “socialization” in the public schools. For some reason, people assume it is a good thing to be socialized in the public schools. Sure, many public school kids can socially “relate” with other kids their age. But along with this comes the corruption of being around lots of other kids, some of whom are quite ill behaved.
This idea that homeschoolers are not “socialized” is somewhat comical. Much of the socialization that comes from being around other kids is quite negative. And if I had to choose, I would rather have my child slightly awkward than deviant. It must also be said that there are public school kids who are socially awkward. It’s just the way some kids are (and some people for that matter).
(2) Homeschool offers better opportunities for socialization. If we are speaking of socialization in the sense of “social skills,” then homeschooling is actually superior to public school. When done right, homeschool children will learn to interact with a variety of ages, from young children to elderly adults. Obviously, homeschool kids interact with their parents and siblings. But if the family does things right, homeschool kids also interact with other family members, neighbors, and people from the community. For that reason, homeschooled children often interact better with adults than do public school children.
Many homeschool families also attend church, which provides excellent opportunities to interact with children of a variety of ages, including adults. There are also homeschool groups and homeschool sports groups. Both of these allow for plenty of interaction with other children (who are usually much better behaved than public schoolers and thus a better influence).
(3) Homeschool has many other advantages to public school. The criticism of homeschoolers being poorly socialized is often a red herring used to avoid discussing the obvious advantages of homeschool when compared to public school. I have already mentioned the behavioral issues. But beyond this, homeschooling has significant educational benefits. Homeschool children can study a subject at their own pace rather than being forced to go the pace of a classroom of 20 to 30 other students. Individualized study is superior in this regard.
Further, solitude is necessary to education. Mass schooling does not provide enough solitude for reflection and mastery of material. There is too much noise and distractions. This is one reason why homeschoolers are so efficient. What takes seven hours in the public school can be accomplished in three to four hours for the homeschooler.
All of this is to say that the charge that homeschool children will by necessity be poorly socialized is complete bunk. Not only is public school socialization undesirable, but good parenting results in homeschoolers learning to interact with a variety of ages and not just kids their age. The idea that a homeschool child must be locked inside the home as a recluse is utterly ridiculous.