March 23, 2011

Homeschooling Irritant: I greatly dislike the S-word

It seems like every homeschool blogger (including myself apparently) feels compelled to make at least one (usually several) posts defending the "socialization" question.  I used to read those posts, but they all say essentially the same thing - for the majority there is no problem.  I wish everyone would just drop the entire issue.  That horse is dust in the wind.  There is nothing left to beat, people.

So what's got a bee in my bonnet right now is people who say they know homeschooled children who have trouble socializing.  Can someone introduce me?  I've never met one, hell I've never met a child that couldn't socialize.  By definition a child is going to be a person that is learning how to make their way in the world.  They've lived less time, experienced fewer things - naturally they will not know all the ins and outs of every situation.

Right here I could also go off on a tangent about how the "socializing" that kids do in school is not the same kind of socializing that adults do, now is it?  Not once since I left high school have I been taunted, embarrassed, ignored, or felt as isolated as I ever did sitting in any of my classes.

What I am saying is that all children sort of know how to socialize on some level.  Maybe the homeschool children that go into the school system don't know their ways around that particular system, but if you put them with other homeschoolers they will be fine.  At least in my experience.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say that perhaps the socialization issue is not a homeschool thing, but a parent thing.  The type of parents who might want to shelter their child will also probably want to keep them home.  Just sayin'.

I am going to describe several people below.  Can you guess which ones were schooled at home and which attended a school of some sort?   These are all adults and none of them read my blog (except for myself and B.)  So don't worry I'm not talking about any of you.  If you find you identify in some way, I apologize.  It's a coincidence.

Person A thinks people need to just accept them as they are, they know they are abrasive, but they have a right to be this way.  They have a hard time making friends and keeping friends.

Person B dislikes any type of get-together, or at least the idea of them.  Once there it's a 50/50 chance that they will enjoy themselves.  People really like this person when they are around though.  Generally they enjoy outings with friends more than family.

Person C talks.  A lot.  But they are a great storyteller.  People gravitate towards them and they have a lot of loving friends and family.

Person D can never figure out when it's their turn to talk in a conversation.  They either turn to leave before the other person is finished, or stay too long.  This person never quite feels comfortable in a group, but somedays are better than others.  Still, they have a great group of friends who love them despite their quirks.

Person E has a controlling personality that alienates those close to them, yet they can't stand being alone.  They are very opinionated and dislike most people, but to your face they are perfectly amiable.

Guess what?  All of these people were in the school system; some private, some public, some only through high school, others partial college, and one has a few degrees.  I only know one adult homeschooler personally.  He's incredibly smart, but he did have trouble adjusting to college.  He's still there though - in his second year.  I had trouble adjusting to college too.  A panic attack during an exam sent me packing and I never went back.  I also made no friends during college, never talked to anyone and had no support while there.

< sarcasm > Go public schooler with your kick butt socialization skills! < /sarcasm >

The ability to function socially is not about how a person is educated.  There are just too many other factors, not to mention different personality types and upbringings.  Rarely are things so simple to have just one cause.  And I'm sorry to add another post to this dead topic.  I guess I just needed to vent a little bit.


  1. I'm many of those you listed and yep, I was public schooled. I think some of it is just personality and really has nothing to do with how we were taught (or not taught) how to socialize. I'm just a weirdo! :)

  2. People are who they are. Sure, things influence that, but being home schooled or public schooled won't change your essence in my opinion.

    S, I'm surprised you kept beating this horse! LOL!

  3. Grace - I know... I shouldn't care anymore, but someone I respected said they knew homeschoolers that had trouble in school and of course used the S-word. It just made me so irritated that I couldn't help it. LOL I did sit on the post for a while before hitting publish, but in the end, I just wanted to be able to go back and read my own opinion the next time it came up!

    Gina- oh me too! I think we can all be those ways sometimes!! I don't remember anyone ever telling me I was going to learn how to be social at school, among the other subjects. If anything, I'm pretty sure an emphasis was put on NOT thinking of school as a social event. Go figure...

  4. Socialization is in the eye of the beholder. If you want your kids to instantaneously and unquestioningly line up nose-to-ass with their left hand on a brick wall outside their classroom door every time a whistle blows, then PS is the right choice for you and your kids. (I have personally witnessed this happen, and it's really kind of freaky).

    But, if you feel socialization is defined as the ability to fluidly appreciate, interact with, and form bonds with individuals from a broad variety of social backgrounds (including age/race/religion/economy/geographic location), then PS might not be the right environment for your kids. To the extent that ecomonics are NOT a factor, it is a personal choice.

    BTW, I deeply appreciate that 18-or-so kids, ages 3 to 11, can be interacting in the same environment with few externally-enforced restrictions, and everything go pretty much smoothly for an entire afternoon and evening. The fact that all of our kids can co-exist and interact (on so many levels) without micro-managing by adults speaks volumes about kids' hard-wired ability (and need) to form social bonds that fulufill their own needs.

    Kids are more brilliant than we think ;)

  5. Yeah, what you you said. (See my mad public school communication skills in action?)

  6. As a supply teacher here's my take, and hopefully I don't jumble it up. A kindergartener, a kid who moves to a new school, a home schooled child entering school for the same time, a teen entering high school and many more may all be described as having difficulty with "socialization", but what is really happening (in my view) is that each of these children is learning the new lay of land. Entering school requires kids to navigate a variety of relationships as well as rules and expectations that they may not have encountered before. Some kids may tackle these challenges faster or with greater ease than others, but it really has nothing to do with their ability to "socialize" and everything to do with their ability to deal with change. I think that socialization is just a buzz word that people/educators use to cover-up poor behaviour, bad manners, and maybe even more often that adults either expect too much or don't know how to let kids just be kids. If socialization is being exposed to others and the community around us in ways that allow us to communicate and build relationships then school can play a role, but it also happens every time we take our kids out into the world and every time we sit and share a meal with them. Buzz words suck!

  7. Well said, Mo.

    Obi-Mom Kenobi - LOL!

    Sadie - I totally agree. I know I am probably guilty of using buzz words myself, but I try to be much more mindful of them as I understand how it feels when they are directed at me.

    Moving from any environment to another is going to result in a misstep or two, no matter who you are. That was my point exactly. :)

    Thanks for the discussion ladies!!

  8. Yep, I've gotten this, too. Mostly in the form of a question and not an accusation. People comment to me all the time about how well my kids get along with other kids...of ALL ages, including adults. Then there is the surprise when I say they are homeschooled. One advantage of homeschool is that kids are exposed to various age groups and not the same group day after day. They learn to adjust behavior and read social situations quicker and how they can fit in, or not if the choose. My cousin has homeschooled 8 of her 9 kids. So far 4 have graduated from college with honors and the 5th is doing quite well in college. The 6th is currently deciding where he wants to go. She had done a great job, except for the conservative religious part.