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The social part of why we homeschool

I cannot say that we homeschool for any one reason, but the socialization aspect of schooling is very big on our reasons why we choose to home educate our kids.

Socialization: (′sō·shə·lə′zā·shən) (psychology) The process whereby a child learns to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation as well as group pressure.

I think that the above definition is the one people have in mind when they ask homeschool families about socialization. Since the majority of the people asking this question spent their childhood in a school environment, I really cannot blame them for their difficulty in grasping the concept of socialization occurring outside of a school.

I attended public school, my husband attended private Christian school. We had some good experiences, some very good, dedicated teachers, some bad teachers and some bad experiences. Looking back, I would have to say that the bad outweighed the good- and that we wanted something better for our children. Frankly, the thought of 30 or so kids teaching my kids to behave similarly through imitation as well as group pressure, and even- I have to add- through intimidation, shaming and physical violence…doesn’t sit so well with me. Children are immature, foolish, childish and even cruel sometimes.

The idea of sending my foolish/childish offspring to spend 6 or so hours 5 days a week with minimum supervision to learn social skills from 30 other foolish/childish kids of the same age, confined to a room…does not appeal to me.

John Taylor Gatto had this to say about…

“major assumptions about the importance of government schooling that need to be seen as false… The socialization of children in age-graded groups monitored by state agents is essential to learn to get along with others in a pluralistic society. The actual truth is that the rigid compartmentalizations of schooling teach a crippling form of social relation: wait passively until you are told what to do, never judge your own work or confer with associates, have contempt for those younger than yourself and fear of those older. Behave according to the meaning assigned to your class label”…
-The underground history of American Education by John Taylor Gatto page385

We homeschoolers often launch into a recitation listing all the social opportunities we give our children to insure their healthy social development, in defense of the implied lack of such development we sense in the question. I’m not going to do that here, but I did want to share a recent decision we made in light of the whole socialization ‘thing’.

We have a really good, well-known performing arts charter high school within walking distance of our house. We know a family whose children have attended this school (their daughters have all babysat for us) and have had very good experiences there and have received a really good education there. We thought seriously this year of preparing our oldest daughter to audition for this school. She is a very social person, she loves to be with people- and she plays the violin in an orchestra and is gifted artistically in drawing and painting. Ultimately we decide against auditioning and the big reason was the social aspect. She would be at this school from 7 am to 5pm – 5 days a week, the impact this would have on her and on our family would be huge. Yes, we shelter our kids- and yes we protect them, and yes-we filter much of what they come into contact with. We see this as an imperative responsibility on our parts as parents. Sometimes this sheltering is spoken to us as a negative…but when reflecting on this, I have to ask about the antithesis of sheltering…what would those words be? …instead of shelter, protect, nurture- the words would be exposure, neglect, displace, unsafe. So, yes, we do choose to shelter our children right now. And no, I do not think that parents choosing the opposite of our choice are wrong…I am only voicing our thoughts concerning the decision we made for our family. The above mentioned family whose children attend this school we considered- have turned out wonderful kids, we were wowed with them the first time we met them. I know that there is the danger of sounding like I am making a blanket judgment of all schooling choices other than homeschooling..I hope no one reading this walks away with that feeling. I did want to share our thoughts on why we choose to keep our kids home.

I think it has been a good choice for us, I love the closeness we see between our children, the close fellowship we have with each child and the opportunity we have to enjoy each other daily in large amounts of time. I don’t think these fruits are only the results of the homeschool lifestyle, but for our family- they have been hugely impacted by our homeschooling.

file this all under a homeschool mom’s ramblings and thinking outloud…

About the author: Jenn; red-hair, warm heart, cold hands. homeschooled five children and lived to tell the tale.

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Tricia May 16, 2007, 3:57 PM

    Jenny, I thought that was very well said. I agree totally with what you said.

    I think sometimes my family homeschools for what we WON’T learn.

    Dare I say it? Some other people are going to do a better job at teaching my children some subjects than I will. I pay someone to teach my son Algebra (God bless that woman!)

    I have no problem parting out some aspects of my children’s education. What I am not willing to give away is teaching my kids socially; walking with them through some of those hard times.

    Thought this is not my goal, at worst if my kids get an average academic education, and a stellar moral one. I’ll be okay with that.

  • OC Mom May 16, 2007, 4:35 PM

    Hi Jenny, you said it all really well. I usually sum it up with two words: Mean Girls. It’s not a movie for children, but it’s worth seeing for adults who might need reminding that all those things you remember about high school – it’s worse now. I don’t want my dc around the Mean Girls and that’s reason enough to keep them home.

  • Heather May 16, 2007, 6:46 PM

    Amen. Next time someone asks I am referring them here. I wrote about this a while back but this is PERFECT.

  • Jenny in Ca May 16, 2007, 6:53 PM

    Tricia, your last sentence is something I have thought too..tho I want them to have a great education, at the same time I think that their spiritual/moral health is more important.

    OC Mom, just perfect! I had forgotten all about that movie, I haven’t seen it, but I probably should. I’ve been meaning to read the book it is based on too. But then again, being a girl, I don’t really have to read it..i’ve lived it in school.

  • Mrs. Darling May 17, 2007, 2:51 AM

    Great post.

    I send Tink to Mad Science because I hate science. But out of the house from 7-5? Wow, that’s a lot of input from other people. That would make me uncomfortable big time.

  • Cyndi May 18, 2007, 1:16 PM

    :::applause::::: I agree with this post. Thank you for posting this, Jenny.

    I had to chuckle at “We homeschoolers often launch into a recitation listing all of the social opportunities we give our children…” Dont’ we, though? I realized a few years ago that is school were a cure for social “issues,” that high schools would be devoid of shy, “backwards” kids or social “misfits.” After all, they have been “socialized” for 10 or so years, right?

    Great post!

  • Yvette May 31, 2007, 12:42 AM

    great post!! and I’m not a homeschooler but always stick up for the homeschoolers I know!!! You mom’s are amazing!!

  • Shmonae July 8, 2010, 3:41 AM

    A post well done my friend :)

  • The Mom Venture Blog August 10, 2010, 3:34 AM

    This is an awesome post! Precisely why we've chosen to home school our children. We're going to be starting 1st grade with our oldest, so I'm starting to feel a little nervous about the whole thing. Kindergarten is pretty simple, but now it's like we're doing this for real! I'll be back here for more! Thanks

  • Melinda Curtis October 17, 2011, 5:34 PM

    This is a very encouraging article. We homeschool and are in a situation where a neighbor’s son is shaming my son when they play together. My husband and I are praying about how much we protect our son vs. sharing God’s love with this child. It’s a difficult dilemma because we want to teach our son to be the peer pressure in a positive light but it seems the pressure is much stronger in a negative way and breaking my son’s self confidence.

    • Jenn October 18, 2011, 9:45 PM


      That is a shame about the little boy shaming your son about homeschooling. We haven’t run into much of that, such a tricky situation, but I would agree with you on protecting your son’s self confidence. Maybe a talk with the boy about how he would feel bad if a friend was saying bad things about his school, and about how friends should encourage each other?

      lifting you up in prayer,

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