I Wans't Homeschooled in a Closet!
I Wasn’t Schooled in a Closet!
Homeschoolers and “Socialization” Problem
By Dominique Deming
I love telling people who have not had much interaction with homeschoolers that I was homeschooled. Invariably, they will ask one of two questions. The first, and more prominent of the two, is the question, “Did you get to do school in your pajamas?” In my case, the answer is “no” and “who cares.” The other, slightly more substantial, is the question, “What about socialization?”
Every time I get this question, I am sorely tempted to answer, “well, I’m socializing with you.” Fortunately, my mother helped me develop a sense of propriety which restrains my initial sarcastic impulse. Instead I smile and reassure the questioner that I did have a social life as a kid and that I am quite capable of socializing with people of diverse backgrounds.
Unfortunately, no matter how many people I console, I am afraid I will be plagued with this question my entire life. This question seems to be a huge concern among people who have only a surface knowledge of the homeschool movement. So, what about it?
First, this question stems from an ignorance of homeschoolers in general. Most people who interact with the homeschool community or know multiple homeschool families recognize that, in general, homeschooled kids have a social life. Homeschoolers generally look for ways to be involved in many different activities with many different people.
Homeschoolers, in general, tend to be very active. They get involved in their communities, pursue extra-curricular activities that interest them, and, when found in large groups, gather together to enhance their educational experiences. When I was in school, I participated in homeschool co-ops, worked in multiple political campaigns, served in my church, played volleyball, and pursued my interests in politics through multiple organizations. All of these activities surrounded me with people my own age, as well as with people across the age spectrum. My sisters were also quite active in school; doing everything from 4-H, to swim team, to volunteer firefighting.
Homeschooled kids have a unique advantage. They get to practice their socialization skills with people of all ages. Whereas public and private schooled kids spend the majority of their days surrounded mostly by people their own age, homeschoolers spend their days surrounded by people of different ages and maturity levels. Because of this, homeschooled kids quickly learn to comfortably socialize with a wide assortment of people – not just ones their own age. At 15, I could (and often did) have a substantive conversation with an adult and, 5 minutes later, be hanging out with kids my own age.
I have heard some people object, saying, “My friend/sister/some-random-relative homeschools her kids and they are so shy.” Of course, all public and private school kids are outgoing, right? No. All kids, whether public, private, or homeschooled, have different personalities. We do not expect every public or private schooled kid to be gregarious and outgoing. We all know public school kids who are shy or reserved, who do not have a wide circle of friends. We don’t blame the system because we know that some kids have personalities that are more reserved than others. The same is true of homeschool kids. A homeschooler is shy or reserved, but this does not mean that they have not been “socialized.” Looking at a large group of homeschoolers, instead of just one, will confirm that multiple personality types exist among them.
Socialization among homeschoolers is not a big issue, like some would have us think. School is not the only avenue for socialization and homeschoolers have an abundance of social avenues open to them. Getting to know homeschoolers will clearly show that they do not lack the ability to socialize.
About the Author:
Dominique Deming is the oldest of the Deming daughters. After having been homeschooled her entire life, she is now in college studying political theory. Her homeschool years not only gave her a strong academic foundation, preparing her for college, but also helped instill in her a love for learning and gave her the tools she needs to pursue her education in the undergraduate level.