Growing Up Homeschooled, Part Two: Friends and Other Social Worries

If you don’t homeschool, you don’t know what it’s like to live this life. Because homeschoolers a definite minority in our society, they remain something of a mystery. Rarely are homeschoolers portrayed positively, much less accurately, in film, television, books, etc.

That is why I’m sharing this series of Monday posts entitled ” Growing Up Homeschooled.” There’s a decent chance you’ve seen a parent comment on what it means to be homeschooled–how about the perspective of someone who was homeschooled and chose to pursue that path for her own children?

~ Lee


I figured I go ahead and address this issue, since it is, somehow, the most prevalent misunderstanding about homeschooling…

SOCIALIZATION!!!! 

Friends

Yes. I had friends. I had friends during elementary school, middle school, and high school.

My kids have friends.

Friendships–they’re a thing that happen even when you’re homeschooled.

Homeschoolers makes friends with other homeschoolers, their neighbors, kids from church, kids from karate/dance/baseball, etc. One of my daughter’s friends is the cousin of our neighbors! Just because you don’t spend 6-8 hours a day around other kids your age doesn’t mean that you don’t interact with the rest of humanity.

Socialization?

 

Haha, Homeschooling.......for all those week days in my childhood when I was asked "why aren't you at school?"

What the heck is “socialization,” anyway? The word itself makes it sound like homeschoolers exist in a vacuum. They don’t! They exist within society just like everybody else!

Besides, is that the primary purpose of education? “Socialization?”

NO! So what if our society thinks that sending kids ages 6-18 off to spend the vast majority of the day in a group of their immediate 12-month peers is normal?
As the parent of my children, I know they’ll be better educated at home rather than the local public schools, and probably even better than if I made a 2-hour round trip to take them to a private school in the city. I am also confident they will be well-rounded, socially-capable adults when they grow up. I am also confident they will have social struggles as they explore and wiggle their way through childhood, just like anybody else.

Tell me, does sending your son to public school automatically mean he will have friends? No.

Does sending your daughter to public school automatically mean that she will be a well-adjusted adult? No.

Does sending any child to a brick-and-motor building of state-funded education mean that the child will be able to intelligently and tactfully engage in social activities with people from a wide variety of background and belief systems? NO!

Does homeschooling your child guarantee that she will be socially awkward, friendless, and incompetent around other human beings?

No.

More and more parents are pulling their kids out of public schools in America because the school environments are harmful. I could easily label that as “Bad Socialization.” Every school is different, and every child is different. Painting with broad strokes in this area is bound to upset someone.

I won’t do it if you won’t 😉

Why is this still a thing?

I really don’t understand how “social” concerns are still a thing for homeschoolers…

Being shy isn’t unique to homeschoolers. Being awkward isn’t unique to homeschoolers. Being reserved isn’t unique to homeschoolers.

The problem with being homeschooled is that any negative trait you have will immediately be attributed to being homeschooled. Society as a whole is poised, ready to judge, looking for the first thing to blame on the way you’re being educated.

Similarly, people tend to attribute certain positive stereotypes to homeschooled kids, such as the ability to speak to adults from a young age. While some homeschoolers are comfortable having conversations with adults, this isn’t a universal fact! Plenty of homeschoolers are more comfortable talking to people around their own age.

The next time you meet a creep who’s homeschooled, don’t judge all homeschoolers by this one creep. Similarly, the next time I meet a public-schooled bullying brat, I won’t judge the entirely of publicly-schooled kids by him.

Different doesn’t mean bad

Homeschoolers experience different “socialization” than their public-schooled counterparts, and so homeschoolers do tend to be a little different, socially speaking. However, different doesn’t have to be a negative thing.

I had more good friends in high school than any other time. There was a decently sized group of us with similar interests, and we were all “in high school” at the same time, even if we were in different grades.

That’s one of the cool things about homeschooling–age doesn’t matter as much. Kids two years apart in age can, and often are, friends. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have close friends very close in age because of maturity issues, but the fact that homeschoolers are raised in an environment where you play with kids of multiple ages plays to their advantage.

When you enter “the real world,” are you suddenly surrounded by mature adults?

Ha. Nope.

When you begin your career, do you only work alongside people born in the same 12 month span?

Absolutely not. In the “real world,” you must be able to interact with, socialize with, and befriend men and women of different ages and backgrounds. The good news for homeschoolers is that they’re raised in an environment that more accurately reflects the realities they will face as adults than their public-schooled counterparts who spend 12 years divided by age.


As far as me and mine are concerned, I’ll take my chances with “atypical socialization,” because, honestly, with the way people in society treat each other online and in person, I sincerely doubt atypical = worse.

~ Lee

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