What about socialization?

This is one of the most common questions asked about homeschooling - in fact, it's often the very first question asked by concerned friends, grandparents, or other family members when they find out you intend to homeschool your children. Their concern is that by taking your children out of an institutionalized school setting, you are depriving them of important social interaction, leaving them unable to cope in the real world.

There are two answers to this question. The first answer is short and sweet, but does not address the fundamental problem. The second answer is a little longer, but addresses a critical misunderstanding that surrounds the issue of homeschoolers and socialization.

The Easy Answer:
The first answer to the socialization question is that there are plenty of opportunities for socializing in a homeschool setting. Nearly all homeschoolers have access to a support network of some kind, most of which have regular meetings, outings, and sometimes even group studies. These and other opportunities abound, to the point that some homeschoolers hardly spend any time at home!

The Best Answer:
A better answer is to challenge your questioner's definition of “socialization.” Normally, they're concerned that your children won't have adequate time with other children their own age. Frankly, this is not a good definition. True socialization would involve helping your children learn how to interact with other people of all ages. After all, after graduation, most people are never again in an environment of “age-equality.” From the perspective of preparing our children for real life, it's easy to see that the typical classroom environment is artificial socialization at best, and outright anti-social at worst.

Contrasted with a school classroom, the lives of the average homeschool family are fabulously socialized. Between church, trips to the store with Mom, family meals, and a plethora of other scenarios, opportunities abound for homeschooled children to learn how to interact, not only with children their own age, but also with adults, children younger or older than themselves, the elderly, peers, relatives, and authority figures.

Homeschoolers should be careful not to accept a flawed definition of “socialization.” Some homeschoolers are beginning to answer the socialization question too thoroughly, based on this flawed definition, by taking part in far too many extra activities. While some extra activities are good and healthy, there is a very real tendency to go too far and place our children in some of the same compromising social settings we dislike about public schools. Remembering what true socialization is will help us keep our perspective clear and our priorities straight!