It has been some time since I have been seriously questioned about whether or not our homeschooled kids were being properly socialized.
My son Zac and me in NYC after an interview with Governor Mike Huckabee
Our daughter Abby in NYC after her interview on The View
People rarely ask me that these days, but if they do I have a ready reply.
What is the ‘Real World’ Anyway?
It seems to me that what is meant by socialization or the lack thereof is that if we isolate our kids from the public or private school culture, our kids won’t know how to survive in the ‘real’ world.
The way I see it is that the homeschool world has a lot more similarities to the ‘real world’ than any institutional setting.
For example, the typical public or private school student will:
- spend 180 days a year in a classroom with little exposure to the workplace or the people who work in it
- be surrounded by people only of their own age with little exposure to people of other ages or adults
- have very little responsibility and generally be passive learners with everything provided for them
- have little time to pursue their interests outside of the school offerings
- will be passed to the next grade regardless of their actual ability or achievement
- have little preparation in how to operate a home or how to function in the workplace
Before I go any further, I will say as I have said before, I do not blame the schools for these limitations. Large institutions (run by large governments) are bound to have these sorts of problems. Logistically speaking, the public schools simply cannot provide the individualized instruction that the homeschool setting can provide.
Many of the myths and stereotypes of weird, unsocialized homeschoolers have stemmed from ignorance – like all myths and stereotypes. Fortunately, there have been oodles of studies on the success of homeschooling, so I will not digress into all of that. I never really liked statistics in college anyway. The fact is that homeschooled kids do well. They test well, get into colleges, tend to be more politically active, more mature and participate in more community service type projects.
Can Homeschooling Actually Harm Children?
Aside from the (very few) abusive ‘homeschooling’ families out there, I have seen a style of homeschooling that can harm children.
There was a time in our early days where we tended to over shelter our kids. Over time we saw that that wasn’t working out to well for us (a subject for another blog post) and prayerfully made some changes.
I have seen a mindset that says ‘If we homeschool, our kids will turn out perfect.’ Sheltering your kids from this increasingly anti-Christian culture is appropriate in certain situations to be sure. However, our homeschooled kids do need to be prepared to live in this post-modern culture and survive. They need to know what they believe and why they believe and be able to defend their faith well before they graduate. There are plenty more statistics on the subject of Christian, homeschooled kids ‘jumping ship’ in college or even much, much sooner.
While we don’t want to immerse our kids in the culture we need to prepare them to deal with it bit by bit through conversations, through study of facts and through the lens of God’s word.
Our kids may very well not be comfortable socializing within the traditional school culture. They may not have as many skills for handling bullies (although big brothers do offer some practice), offers of drugs and alcohol, pressure to engage in physical relationships, and the frustration of increasingly ineffective academic instruction.
Honestly, I’m okay with that.