Homeschool: What About Socialization?
What about socialization?” Any homeschool parent will tell you that this is far and away the question they get hit with the most when it comes to their decision to homeschool. The level of curiosity it arouses in outsiders has led to those on the inside referring to it as the “s-word.”
This fascination with our lack of socialization is baffling to most homeschoolers. We have so many other worries related to our children’s education that this one is rarely a top concern. In many ways, I feel like my homeschooled kids are more socialized than I was during my school years, and have more varied experiences than I did. We are able to fill up our time with activities that correlate with our interests. We see friends all the time, just to hang out without school pressures. They have friends of all ages, and aren’t phased by babies or adults. We do not live in a bubble and life is busy and full of social interactions.
I think we’re good. Or are we?
If the worry is that our kids are going to turn out differently because they do not share those classic school memories that seem so key to our adolescence, then I am sorry to say they may be justified in their concern. Being married to someone who was homeschooled, there are times when his lack of memories of things like recess, lunch ladies, cool kids, mean kids, weird kids, etc. is hard for me to understand. His homeschool existence deprived him of these critical experiences! Like most people, my school years defined my youth. Sometimes it is strange to not be able to connect on those things. I am often tempted to poke fun at his lack of understanding of “normal” things.
Whether we realize it or not, we socially connect with others based on having similar experiences. Digging deeper, though, I wonder how valuable is the bond of normalcy? One of the things I admire most about my husband is his ability to work without the constraints of any sort of box. He doesn’t even see boxes most of the time, and I can’t help but think this is the gift of his lack of “normal” school socialization coming into play.
I recently watched an episode of the James Corden Show where he interviews popstar Billie Eilish in her childhood home. Billie and her brother were always homeschooled. She tells James a story about how her parents would let them stay up as late as they wanted as long as they were doing something creative. If you have seen or heard of Billie Eilish, you know she doesn’t dress or sound like anyone else. Yep, all the trappings of an unsocialized homeschool kid. As it turns out, her parents were actually inspired to homeschool their kids after hearing about some funky kids from Oklahoma that were able to pursue their dreams full-time due to their parent’s decision to teach them at home.
Remember the scene in “Mean Girls” where Cady Heron gets up to go to the bathroom without asking permission? And then is shocked when she is scolded by the teacher? That scene says it all. There is definitely a chance our homeschoolers are going to grow up and not know when to raise their hand.
So, is lack of socialization a risk with homeschool? Maybe, but I’ll roll the dice.