This is one of the most common objections to homeschooling, raised by family members and friends who aren't familiar with homeschooling. It is often a source of great worry to parents considering making the leap to homeschooling their children. While to new people it can be a cause of angst, to veteran homeschoolers it is known as "the S word". Socialization concerns many homeschoolers and their extended families, often for greatly varying reasons. While the new-to-homeschooling family may be wondering just how they are to go about socializing their child, veteran homeschoolers may be wondering how they can cut back on the amount of socializing they are doing. The issue and the worries can be addressed from several vantage points.
Perhaps one of the biggest, and most groundless, concerns facing new
homeschooling parents is whether homeschooled children can be as socially adept
as institutionally-schooled children. Many of the social lessons learned by
institutionally-schooled, age-segregated children are not valued by individual
families or society as a whole. Conformity and striving for popularity; age-ism;
bullying and teasing and the avoidance of both; and stereotypical, media-driven
gender roles and attitudes are some of social skills practiced in institutions.
The books below are recommended for those coming out of a negative school experience and for children who need extra assistance in negotiating social situations.
Good Friends Are Hard to Find: Help Your Child Find, Make, and Keep Friends by Fred Frankel. A great friendship manual that addresses playdates, how to be a good host or guest and how to join a group of children who are already playing. Practical advice for parents.
Helping the Child Who Doesn't Fit in by Stephen Nowicki and Marshal P. Duke. Some kids have trouble fitting in because they are unable to read body language. Failure to respect non-verbal rules and cues can lead to social ostracism; for example, people who talk too loud or stand too close generally aren't the most sought-after playmates. Each chapter gives actual activities and exercises to help children develop this skill that not everyone is born with.
Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success by Marshal P. Duke, Stephen Nowicki and Elisabeth A. Martin. Using case studies, exercises, and illustrations, the authors outline the six channels of nonverbal communication. Does she sense how close to stand to another person? Does he understand the unspoken rules about touching people? Does he know the types of appropriate posture for approaching a group? Does she recognize variations in tone of voice, and the meaning they add to the verbal message? We all want our children to have positive interactions; this book gives adults the tools to help children become socially literate.
Raise Your Child's Social IQ: Stepping Stones to People Skills for Kids by Cathi, Cohen. Cohen's book includes chapters on joining in, conversing, managing anger, solving social problems, reading social signals, along with anecdotes and practice exercises. Children are not born with social skills; they must be learn them. Children are more at ease when they have confidence in their social skills; parents can relax knowing they have a step-by-step guide to help their child in this area.
Homeschool author, John Holt, wrote this about socialization:
"As for friends, you are not going to lock your child in the house. I think the socializing aspects of school are 10 times as likely to be harmful as helpful. The human virtues -- kindness, patience, generosity, et cetera -- are learned by children in intimate relationships, maybe groups of two or three. By and large, human beings tend to behave worse in large groups, as you find in school. There they learn something quite different: popularity, conformity, bullying, teasing -- things like that. [Homeschoolers] can make friends after school hours, during vacations, at the library, in church."
Children learn to get along with others through relationships with people of all ages. Many homeschoolers develop these relationships through avenues outside of institutional-schooling. Veteran homeschoolers often find that the issue is more one of too much socializing than not enough. They find they need to limit the amount of socializing they do in order to find enough time for their studies.
Here are a few ideas for meeting your child(rens) social needs: