The Socialization Question
There are many questions people ask about homeschooling, but there is one that is almost always asked:
"But what about socialization?"
But what is the question really?
To most non-homeschoolers the socialization question is actually, “What about regular exposure to peers of the same age and grade?”
When you force them to stop and think about it more deeply, even they will realize the foolishness of the question.
Where, outside of school, does a person only need to interact with people his/her own age?
Nowhere is a person required to be friends only with his/her own age or socially limited network. In the real world, there will need to be work done within teams consisting of a whole range of different personalities, with different backgrounds and ages.
If people think that homeschoolers are isolating their children from the world, just point them to the isolation of school and how totally ‘unreal’ the school setup is compared to the real world out there. Homeschoolers tend to be actively involved in community, their children with them, interacting with the actual, real world. So what should the real question be, then?
If socialization is defined as: “The process of instilling social skills necessary for relating effectively to other people.” ...then one should be willing to agree that a healthy home is the more appropriate environment to learn social skills, as opposed to a school environment.
In most research studies done anywhere in the world, public schools DO NOT deliver mature adults knowing how to relate to other people with the proper respect, self-esteem and communication skills required. Dr Gordon Neufeld (Neufeld institute, Canada) actually states that there is a problem in society caused by schools, where children are NOT socialized effectively to integrate into society.
He goes on to state that "Home education is the hope for socialization." It is really very logical that a healthy home will have better results, since children learn from models, and in healthy homes, mature adults model effective communication and relationship skills. In schools, the models are mainly other 'foolish', immature, selfish children. In a healthy home, social skills are constantly and consistently modelled and trained while wrong behaviour is corrected.
Socialization is an identity issue
Schools are designed to run as a system - with all its systematic constraints and restrictions built in - with the objective of producing ‘the same product’. This implies that children are required to conform; to become alike. There is little room for individuality and uniqueness.
Performance within the system is rewarded, not personality nor potential. That is why some perform well and some do not. Either way, you are not developing a true identity of yourself. You are only developing an image of yourself dependent on the system you are in. How many children learn to adapt to the school system and become somebody they are not, in order to ‘fit in’?
This happens from very young, even in primary school. During high school this ‘fitting in’ objective is even more important, as the result of the well-known peer pressure experienced by all young adults in the world. The irony here is that despite successfully ‘fitting in’ to the social order in school, you may still continue feeling ‘out’ anyway, as you have not established your own identity but have only adapted to the school’s image of successful children.
Often the school’s definition of success is not the same as the world’s definition of success (think of Bill Gates as a case in point), therefore prompting you to adjust again later in life in trying to find yourself. How many people are still struggling with insecurity issues as an adult, when they should be helping other people overcome their insecurity issues?
I believe that socialization is a critical issue in society. As homeschoolers we can make a difference in modelling not only positive, but influential social skills stemming from a positive understanding of your own identity in God.
Socialization is therefore an issue that requires more than just the casual glance or shallow thinking that is usually associated with it. We must think about this far more carefully and encourage our children to do so as well. Let us as homeschoolers be the example of people who really value - and model - good socialization skills, causing people to feel respected and valued.
Let us by our example show the world what socialization is really all about.
This article was contributed by Willemien Kruger.
You can find more articles like this here: www.homeschooling-curriculum-guide.com