Social Skills and Homeschooling

I recently read a blog post from a new homeschooling mom who shared her anxiety about the fact that her children are not acquiring the social skills they would be if they were in school.   I left her a comment, and I wanted to share some of what I wrote with you, since the question of socialization and relationships is so prevalent among people who are feeling led to homeschool but have reservations.  I’ve modified it a bit and added to it, but it’s the same flavor of what I shared with her.

I understand the socialization issue – TOTALLY.  I have seven kids at home, and it is impossible to be a part of homeschooling groups and play dates, etc. because of the logistics, money, etc.  Socialization seems to be the number one objection of non-homeschoolers to homeschooling and the number one insecurity of new homeschoolers.

And these are the same people who complain over and over again about their children’s lack of respect, love of drama, materialism, bad language, choices of dress, friends and music, and the list goes on.

I have worried that my kiddos will not be able to function amongst their peers, won’t learn social skills, won’t have relationships with people outside their family.  But years of homeschooling have shown me how well socialized my children really are.

To be frank, my children spend very little time among their peers.  They are around  the neighbors (an elderly couple), church members (kids of all ages along with their parents), our friends (again all ages), grandparents (occasionally) and cousins (rarely).  When they are around their peers, it’s usually in the context of a family outing where they are supervised, and each of our families are familiar with the other.   Outside of an hour and a half a week at AWANA (youth group), the only social skills they can work on are looking people in the eye when they are speaking, saying please and thank you, playing calmly and quietly when adults are around or it’s a full house, respecting people’s privacy, respecting people no matter their age, helping to take care of the very young – and the very old, behaving they way they are taught to behave at home no matter how anybody else is acting, how to hold a conversation with a 2-year-old or a 102-year-old, how to find a way to help, etc.  Within our family they learn grace, cooperation, how to share and take turns, how to do the hard things even when  you don’t want to.

If they were in school and spending most of their day with peers, what social skils would they be learning?

Let’s see what I learned.  How to function and show up at school every day even when terrified by the school bully, how to choose friends based on their social status, how to take on the vocabulary and trendy interests of peers in order to fit in whether they matched my values or not, how to survive the daily drama of today you’re my friend and tomorrow you’re not, just how disrespectful of authority one can be and still get away with it.

Hmmmm.  Which set of social skills is best for my child?  Which set of social skills most accurately reflects our family’s values and the values I’m trying to teach my children?

Children become what they are exposed to.  They reflect where they spend their time and who they spend it with.   It’s completely logical.  Your children, no matter how wonderful and precious they are, will tend to reflect the places they spend the most time and the people they spend the most time with.

If you are out there and you had a wonderful school experience and your kids are having wonderful school experiences and you are not feeling called to homeschool, I say to you keep on truckin!  If you feel you are able to teach your children the things you want them to know and be the influence you want to be in between school hours, you are on to something big.

For the rest of you, know that simply pulling your kids out of school and teaching them at home will not necessarily produce well-adjusted children.  But if you are able to provide a loving, encouraging environment and you are training them in the way they should go without the overwhelming influence of a secular me-first, trend-driven, peer-dominated educational environment,  schooling them at home is putting you on the path of having tremendous influence in the thought life, moral life and spiritual life of your children.  Know that when you take them out of school and they lose the interaction of their peers for those eight or so hours a day, you have a big void to fill.  You will need to become the friend, the companion, the biggest fan.  It’s a big job, but the rewards are immeasurable.

And to that blogger who had pulled her children out of school and was embracing homeschooling I say this – You go, Girl!

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