Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Benefits Of Homeschooling Series - Part 2 - Natural Socialisation

homeschool social skills
Say what?  Socialisation is a benefit of homeschooling? Aren't all homeschoolers weird and unsocialized?

Since homeschooling, I've discovered the home education community is very diverse and yes, there are children who display some unsavoury, unsocialized behavior at times - mine included - but you find children like this everywhere.

Yes, even in schools.

Sometimes parents are motivated to homeschool because their child struggles socially in mainstream school. Perhaps they are different, with a learning disability or giftedness or perhaps they are extremely introverted and shy. So, you may find that some parents homeschool BECAUSE their child is socially awkward.

It is not that homeschooling causes social awkwardness but moreso, that homeschooling becomes a solution when a child's self-esteem is threatened by an experience in a negative social environment (school).

wierd unsocialised homeschoolers

In order to answer this question we must look at why we believe mainstream school is either the ONLY way to successfully socialize a child or the OPTIMAL way to socialize a child.

Most of us have never thought to question whether mainstream school is right for our child. We assume it is because that's what everyone else does and what our parents did. Similarly, we don't stop to question whether school is an optimal social environment for our children - we just assume it is because that's what we've been taught to believe. It isn't until we consider some of the social concerns we see frequently in the media that we begin to wonder whether the 'socialisation' that happens in schools is really all it's cracked up to be.

Is it possible that homeschooled children recieve a better lesson in socialisation because their social skills are able to develop naturally? I believe so. If we remove rivalry, cliques, teasing, bullying, gang and pack behavior and remember that studies suggest homeschooled children have a stronger sense of self-esteem and self-worth than their mainstream peers, then it seems that it's actually the homeschooled children who come out in front.

But, aren't homeschooled kids home all day by themselves?

homeschooled children

Homeschooled children participate in lots of activities. They not only participate in the usual after school sport and music activities they also have access to special events and outings on a daily or weekly basis (depending on where they live) with a network of other homeschoolers. Homeschooled children are not isolated and most parents provide them with lots of opportunity to socialize with other children and adults each day. And when it comes to learning, sometimes some quiet alone time is beneficial as I discovered observing my own children and school children at the Melbourne Museum recently.

Homeschooling prepares kids for socialising in the real world...

I don't know about you, but I have friends of  lots of different ages. In fact, if I really think about it most of my friends are about 10 years older than myself!

Homeschooled children get to socialize with children of varying ages. They can choose friends based on mutual interests rather than age. This provides a much more natural way to socialize and prepare kids for the real world. In life, we have to learn how to get along with people much older AND younger than ourselves. As adults, we also choose friends based on values and what we have in common - not what year they were born.

So despite what the critics may say, I believe one of the many benefits of homeschooling is natural socialisation!

Read about the other benefit of homeschooling - Freedom!

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