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Homeschool Socialization: Who is Unsocialized?

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At some point during the homeschooling years, the question of socialization comes up. Maybe you’re out and about with the kids during school hours, and people realize that you homeschool. Maybe a well-meaning friend or relative pops the question.

“How do you plan to socialize your children?”

While I always try to politely answer the questions as they arise, there are times I honestly want to bang my head on the table because of the irony of the question. Our kids are almost so socialized, it’s ridiculous.

Let’s Review the Meaning of Socialization {shall we?}

so·cial·i·za·tion  [soh-shuh-luh-zey-shuhn]
1. a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.

{from dictionary.com}

Our children do not attend a typical school and spend the day with a classroom full of children their age, but they do spend time with other children {as well as adults} in plenty of other social situations and learn how to navigate being socially appropriate in ALL situations. They have and continue to make friends. And believe it or not, they have fun and do not feel that they are missing out on life {thank.you.very.much}.

This past week though, something happened that really made me sit back and ask the question…

Who is Really Unsocialized?

Homeschool Socialization


Our outreach director at church asked me to help out at a monthly soup kitchen, but it fell during a time that I would obviously have the kids. When I asked if it would be okay to bring the kids along to help, the answer was a resounding yes.

To be completely truthful, I was a little nervous, because let’s face it – you never know when kids are going to act up. But they were all so excited to go along and help, so we pulled everything together and headed out.

There were ten adults and our four kids. Do you know where most of the adults were the entire time? Standing in the doorway of the kitchen, chatting with each other, and looking out at those coming through the doors.

Do you know where the kids were almost the entire time? Setting up, serving those coming in, and INTERACTING with everyone. Playing and keeping a little one occupied so her mom could eat. Talking to adults and inviting them to church. They were the ones socializing with everyone.

While I stood in the doorway and held back from interacting.

Again – who is really unsocialized? {This is me waving my hand sheepishly.}

Fear can so often hold us back, and I’ll be the first to admit that venturing out in the unfamiliar is difficult for me. However, if sitting back watching from a doorway is what socialized adults end up doing, well – there are many lessons that I can learn from my homeschooled children on how to be TRULY socialized.

Do you have a socialization story to share with us today? Feel free to leave a comment sharing with everyone ~ we’d love to hear it!

For More Reading…

Homeschool Basics

This post is a part of the Homeschool Basics series. Be sure to read the other posts if you are just joining in.

Here are a few additional links you may be interested in regarding the topic of homeschool socialization.

photo image purchased from fotolia.com

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  1. I have a three year old and we want to homeschool, that is one topic we have discussed. We have family that voice their concern about the socialization topic. I smiled when I read this post because everywhere we go everyone always compliments us on how friendly and polite our child is. Thanks for this post and how encouraging it is.

  2. Our 5yo son is always “working the room” no matter where we go, and has always been a little charmer, even before he could talk. I am not concerned at all about a lack of socialization where he is concerned. Was this a concern 150 years ago or so when there were miles between homesteads? No offence to those with so-called weird kids, but if your kid has a tendency for weirdness, he/she is going to be weird whether he’s/she’s homeschooled or in public school. And if that’s the case, in which environment would you rather they be weird? Also, I’ve known some of those “weird” homeschooled kids and they have grown and matured into “normal” (yet charmingly quirky) adults.

  3. I am like that every where but at work. My shield (register) makes it so i can talk to anyone. My kids will talk to almost anyone who will talk to them.

  4. I groaned as I read this because this question comes to us a lot! As a former public school teacher turned homeschool mom, I have thought a lot about this topic of socialization. Let me point out a few things that the typical child in a public school setting has: (I am NOT saying that this is the only way classrooms operate, but you would be surprised at how much of this is done.) 1.) He/she is told to sit down and be quiet as soon as entering the classroom and is told to remain quiet most of the day. By the way, what are you told when walking in line down the hallway? Remember hips and lips? “Put your finger on your lip and your hand on your hip.” Ugh. 2.) The only time for interacting freely with classmates is usually lunch, as long as he/she doesn’t receive the punishment of “Silent Lunch” due to behavior problems earlier that morning. 3.) The other time of socializing while at public school might be at recess as long as the child isn’t refused playground time and made to walk laps silently due to more behavior problems. 4.) Think you want your child to be “socialized” on the school bus? Think again! Most parents cringe at what their children share with them that was overheard on the school bus ride to and from school. 5.) When in the real world are people ever going to be placed in a room with only peers of their age and made to work together? In the real world, you must work alongside people of all ages, ethnicities, etc. The public school classroom is not the only place socialization can and will occur. What about church, sports, clubs? Most homeschoolers are highly involved in so many of these wonderful opportunities that they are far more “socialized” and they have had to learn how to work with siblings of different ages, as well as had many more opportunities to talk, discuss, and share their ideas with their families. Thanks for posting this and I hope I’ve shared with you what a glimpse into the public school classroom setting is really like when others question you about how you are going to provide “socialization” for your kids.

  5. Jennifer McGarry says

    I wrote about the same thing recently…as it turns out, homeschooled children are better socialized than their non-homeschooled peers!


  6. I love this! We’ve come across our fair share of comments and questions about socializing! I wonder if this question is usually a form of defensiveness rather than a genuine question… Like others have said, we have no problem with socialization with all the different activities our kids are in. On the flip side, I am amazed at this question in that I didn’t realize the goal of sending your child to school was to socialize! I thought it was to learn. :) I believe anything counter cultural will bring with it many comments, negativity and possibly even disapproval….I mean look at Jesus….countercultural and people killed Him for it! In some ways I take it as a bit of a compliment, because the truth is I DON’t want to be like the world and if people take notice of that then…great! :)

  7. I am homeschool three of our children and this was one of the questions most people asked in the beginning. I pointed out real socialization didn’t happen in schools anyway. In school they aren’t supposed to be socializing during class, that interrupts the education process. I pointed out that during lunch they must sit with their own class and are expected to eat quietly. So during lunch they are almost put into a situation where they have to socialize with people they would never choose to socialize with. We pulled our 11 and 12 year old out of public school mid-year last year. We did this due to severe bullying. I’ve pointed out to people that I don’t want my kids to be forced to socialize with those that mean them harm. Yes, our kids need to learn how to handle themselves in tough situations, but I will not force my kids to hang out with someone they are afraid of. How many of us adults would continue to socialize with someone we fear? I don’t think the message of deal with it is correct in that situation. The social skills they learn in school at their ages is not always appropriate and most time not even close. I choose to socialize my children in other ways. My older two just joined the Civil Air Patrol where they socialize and will get more real-life social situations than any school with provide. They even learn how to handle interview situations, which prepares the for a world that it is tough to land a job. My kids go to the Y and swim and meat other kids. My kids will volunteer for different things in our community. My kids go to church with other kids. To me the “socialization” question is just something that comes up because people really don’t know how to grasp that we as parents have a choice in raising our kids. My kids also get complimented for their behavior in public. I tell people that God gave my husband and me a huge responsibility in giving us our kids to take care of and we don’t take that responsibility lightly.

  8. Lyn @ Tutoring Club of Armonk says

    Being homeschooled does not mean that you also don’t socialize with others. My kids were homeschooled when they were young but I made it a point that they also interact with kids their age.

  9. My kids are Very outgoing (7&9). Even my family who thinks that homeschooling is dumb admit that their concerns are ungrounded (I argue my points well thanks to all the homeschoolers that have gone on before me).

    That said, I have noticed that my kids are great with adults and with kids that they know, but that they have a hard time getting to know new kids or knowing what to do with large groups of kids. This is shocking to me because my kids are VERY outgoing, chatty, they get up front in church, they lead out and then this??? Why?

    • I know there are situations that my kids can be the same – and think that it is perfectly normal! We’ve just taken time to encourage our kids to find topics that they might have in common with the other kids. There are times that I am equally as shy around other people too – much just depends on how comfortable I feel in a situation. Just continue to encourage them and talk about ways to initiate conversation with others – usually others enjoy talking about the things they love. :)

    • Thank you. I probably need to put them in situations with new people where they are not outnumbered and let them build their courage. My husband was very shy as a child, and I have never met a stranger. We are both sides of the road and don’t want them to miss out on life because of fear. It’s not really that terrible, more shocking!

  10. I was homeschooled for high school and my parents completely isolated me from everyone. I was taught that you can’t trust anyone and the world is a horrible place. Because of this, when I went away to college, I didn’t know how to interact with people and had a really tough fascade that got me into trouble. I had a few friends, but none that I have kept in contact with. It wasn’t until I met my husband who had a great talent to coax the real me out, that I discovered who I really was and have blossomed since. That being said, I am thinking of homeschooling our four-year-old and have some concerns about this. He’s a very outgoing child and my concern is that he won’t know when to stop pestering others. There are not a lot of opportunities for older children where I live, so I was thinking of starting up a homeschool group with similar aged children to children that are older. I agree that we can socialize our children and teach them how to act in situations, I just think that keeping them isolated is a bad idea.

    • Thanks SO much for sharing your story. :) I realize that there are definitely children who fall into the under-socialized category and do not mean to gloss over that at all. Isolation is definitely not the route to go. I’ve met families that have followed that route, but as a whole most homeschool families now go to the opposite extreme of involving their kids in a lot of extra activities and co-ops. Homeschooling has definitely changed in the last 25 years, especially on the socialization front.

      Your thoughts of starting a homeschool group for older kids – LOVE it. :) That is definitely a way to bless other families and encourage them in the process.

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