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March 14, 2011

Homeschooling Series Part 1 Socialization

I haven’t talked a lot about our home schooling journey on this blog but anyone who has met me knows that I am passionate about it. We started home schooling right from the get go. I don’t remember a specific day or our decision to home school. Mark and I both just knew that this is what God was calling our family to. Then I look back at our home schooling start I realize that our thinking of what ‘homeschool’ is has changed a lot since then. Homeschooling to us then was more like bringing school into our home. But now our main priority for homeschooling is equipping our children to love God, follow Him and in doing so being a light to the world. We also see the need of teaching our children the education they need to be able to function in our society. And we also know that God has called us to honor those in authority over us as long as it doesn’t go against how God would have us live. For us that means making an education plan each year and sending in reports twice a year as our government asks us. Not that hard actually.

I would like to break this homeschooling subject into a few posts over the next little while because of the enormity of it. I will try to go through and answer some of the questions that people have asked us over the last few years. And if you have any, leave a comment and I will try to answer them as well.

Question #1 What about socialization?
This is a biggy.
Well let’s start with the definition of socialization: Learning to interact well with others, to be sociable. Guaranteed if someone is going to talk to me about home schooling the question of socialization is going to come up. How are your children going to learn social skills if they aren’t going to a public school? Honestly I guess this question kind of makes me wonder what people think socialization really is. To me learning to socialize would be to learn how to communicate with every age, in every walk of life. So my first question would be, how does public school teach you this? You have 20-30 kids the same age in the same room spending day after day with each other. What do they learn about socialization? They learn how to relate to their peers and their teachers. But what about all the other ages? How does this set up teach public school children how to socialize so much better than home schooled children, as they claim?

From what I have seen, the majority of home schooled kids are well rounded in their socialization. They learn how to relate to many different ages from the toddlers, to children, to adolescents, to teens, to adults, to the elderly. And I don’t think this is because of something that they have been taught to do. I think it is a by-product of the morals that have been instilled in them. The value that is placed on a person no matter what their age, race or religion. The value that it doesn’t matter if you ‘fit in’ but rather loving your neighbor as yourself.

And these are the social skills that I want to teach my children. Social skills that say each person is important to God. Social skills that makes others feel like they matter and that they are worth talking to. From what I have observed our children don’t have a problem socializing. Yes, some of them are shy (we are working on that.) As our children are getting older I am seeing their ability to relate to all ages. And not just to have a polite “Hello, how are you?” conversation, but an engaging conversation. This is important to us as we want people of all ages to enjoy being around our children.

Another part of being social is also being able to listen. How many times have you met someone, a child or otherwise who does nothing but talk about themselves and their life not giving you a chance to get a word in edgewise? Really, is the skill of listening not another part of learning to be social? Do they learn that skill in public school better than home school?

So this is why I really I think that the meaning of socialization is misunderstood. Because the fruit that I have witnessed from many home schooled children (of course there are always exceptions) is that they have no problem interacting or being social with others. In fact, they are usually quite enjoyable to have a conversation with.

And to us, this is a valuable thing. Not because they can fit into society, but rather because they can be a light to the world. After all, that should be is our goal, shouldn’t it?

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6


The Munck Family said...

Good post my friend...Don't think either socialization is a problem in our families ;)

love to you,

mommyx12 said...

Great post. I still wonder why though, as homeschoolers, we can't get past this topic. I believe it's just because people on the outside just won't let it go. I've been homeschooling for a loooooong time and it is still the same thing!!! (sigh)

Your last paragraph about our children being a light to the world most certainly should be our highest goal.

Leanne said...

Rosalie....I so agree with your thoughts! I think others mistake what socialization is, and I think a lot, if not most, public school kids cannot socialize outside of their peer groups. Homeschool kids are not the ones who are having the problem socializing, contrary to popular beliefs. I like your concise, intelligent and eloquent approach to this topic. IF a homeschool child can interact and fellowship with someone at any age, then that is more beautiful than academics.

I'm looking forward to part two, or how ever many parts there will be to this series!! Bring it on!!

i neeeeed to go to bed now. Sleep is the most precious commodity now!! HUGS!!

Stacey said...

Thanks for opening up the world of homeschooling :) It's something that I think (and pray) about often.

Anonymous said...

I have interacted with, and observed WAY too many public schooled students who socialized very respectfully outside of their peer groups to agree with the above post and comments. I have been a very successful homeschooling parent myself many years ago, but even then I took offense to these "we're better" attitudes. We homeschool because we're called (I hope), not because "we're better." I must say, I'm surprised that homeschooling parents are still trying to defend the socialization issue. ~me

The Pauls' Family said...

Laura, I don't think it is a problem either :)

Mommyx12, I agree, socialization has been a hot topic for too long already!!

Leanne, thanks :)

Stacey, It's a topic that is easy for me to talk about!!!

Me (wish I knew your name?), I agree with you totally. There are many public school children who know how to socialize well outside their peer group. But they probably didn't learn that in public school. My point was that neither homeschooling, nor public school facilitates socialization skills, rather it's a byproduct of morals that have been instilled in them. That's why the question that is asked of homeschoolers, "What about socialization" could be asked both of the public schooled and home schooled. But it isn't? Thus the reason for this post.

Tiffany said...

When you say you are working with your 'shy' children, what do you mean? I have a very shy (reads people well, is very sensitive) 2 year old, and sometimes I am frustrated by his reservedess. Do you think being shy is something we should try to change in our kids?

The Pauls' Family said...


We don't allow the "shyness" of our children to be an excuse for rudeness. If someone comes and says "hi" to our child, we expect them at least to give a "hi" back.

When our children are around 2 we begin to train this into them. Of course we don't expect as much from our 2 yr. old as we do of our older children but we still expect them to be courteous. We explain to our children that in not giving a response when they are talked to, they are being rude. Jesus tells us to love others, and love is not rude. So because we want our family to be show the light of Jesus to others, we do not allow rudeness.

For most of our children we have just talked them through this, but there have been ones who we have had needed a little more than just a talk.

Here is what we will do with a child who is struggling with shyness. Before we go somewhere we will talk about what to do if someone says hello to them (eye contact, speaking loudly and clearly). We might even do some role play (pretend you are the person coming up to them and saying "hi" or saying "you look nice today") and walking them through the respectful response. We have found these tools to be very effective. And of course lots of praise in the times where they show respect.

As our children grow older we also expect more from them. An example would not just be to say "hello" back, but to ask how someone is doing? or say something else to show interest in that person's life. Of course they will not strike up a conversation with everyone.....but there will be many times when it will be appropriate.

Again, our goal is to show others the love of Jesus and to be a light to the world. If we teach our children to recognize the preciousness of others we will not allow shyness as an excuse for them to be rude.

I hope this was helpful?

Tiffany said...

Thanks for your response! I never want my child to hide behind a 'shy' label, or for that to be their identity. I think your point about seeing the preciousness in others and extending the courtesy of saying hello or showing interest in others is a very good point. Good to hear your thoughts.