articles / Homeschooling

Choosing homeschooling: Socialization

This is going to be the first post of a series on the aspects of homeschooling. Basically, I want to answer the common questions everyone seems to have and the common concerns/myths that people seem to think about homeschooling.

What about socializing?

This is the very first question I hear when people find out we’re homeschooling (and we’ve only been homeschooling for six months). I’ve posted about this topic sporadically in the past, but I think it deserves its own special post just to clear up this myth.

First let’s look at socialization opportunities at public school:

  • The first 10-15 minutes in the morning before school (if you drop them off early)
  • Recess, which I believe total is 30 minutes for elementary
  • Lunch, which is 1 hour (for elementary probably included with one of the recesses)
  • Group activities in class, which doesn’t seem to happen very often in my experience and it’s mediated — so we’ll give them 30 minutes a day

That’s a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes a day of socializing at school at maximum each day.  That’s 11 hours and 15 minutes a week. And it is worth it to note that almost ALL of this type of socializing takes place between peers. This of course does not include if the child goes to church. If this is the case you can add another 2-4 hours a week, which brings the total to 15 hours and 15 minutes.

Josiah "socializing" with my Mom's last foreign exchange student, Lucas, from Spain.

Josiah “socializing” with my Mom’s last foreign exchange student, Lucas, from Spain.

Let’s look at the socialization opportunities for homeschooled kids:

  • Going to the library once a week — 30-45 minutes
  • Going to the park once a week — 1 hour
  • Church — 4 hours a week
  • Interacting with people at the grocery store — 15 minutes once a week
  • Interacting with family at home at least 1 hour during the day — 5 hours
  • Interacting with immediate family during the week — 3 hours

That’s a total of of 14 hours during the week including church. Now before you start to question my last three socializing opportunities for HS kids — the purpose of “socializing” children is so that they know how to interact with other people in a social situation. They know how to be cordial and make friends and be caring. During the day at home homeschool children learn how to interact with other adults because they interact with their parents and other family members. Although it is not always the case, many children come home from school and don’t get a lot of conversation time with their parents that isn’t centered around “what did you do at school today?”

My son talking with the checkout lady at Wal-Mart is learning about small talk and what is appropriate and not appropriate to talk about with certain people. When he is talking to us or his grandparents he’s learning about how to carry on his end of the conversation, to listen to others, and to not interrupt. This is what children are doing during the day with other children. The only difference is between the two is that during the day, children in public school interact with other children 11 hours a week and home school children interact with other people in the general public as well as their parents. Don’t worry though, as I showed you, home school children get plenty of “kid/kid” interaction. Josiah goes to the library once a week and the park once a week and goes to church on three different occasions during the week. That is five interactions in three different contexts in which Josiah is learning how to play with and “socialize” with his peers. This is not including the weekends that his cousins come down (he has eight cousins total — half of which come down a weekend every couple of months). This provides quite a bit of “socialization” as you can see in the featured image of this post.

The list above is just the typical schedule. For us there’s also soccer during soccer season, Josiah is starting basketball this fall so he’ll have practice for that and he’s doing Trail Life USA (Baptist version of Boy Scouts) this fall. So there’s more opportunities for Josiah to “socialize”. Many parents I know have children that are involved in football, dance, swim, tap, ballet, gymnastics, baseball, softball, etc…there’s a sport/art for every season of the year.

Like I said, the purpose of socialization is so children learn how to interact with others — children and adults. Public school and homeschool provide that in different ways — there’s nothing necessarily wrong with either way. Then I have to think about, how much do I socialize during the week? Let’s see…I have one or two friends I call during the week, I talk to my husband daily, I talk to both of my parents daily, on the weekend I may see a friend on the weekend and then I have church on Sunday. I don’t really “socialize” that much outside of my family and a few close friends — unless you count Facebook (and I don’t).

People need contact with other people, but no where is it written that people must have certain types of interactions with a certain age group for X-amount of time a week. I promise that my children will not be those weird, unsocialized smart kids. They will be unique in their own way, be social in a way that makes them comfortable, and have a well-rounded education. That’s what we expect the public school system to provide isn’t it?

 

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