Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homeschooling Doesn't Make Kids Antisocial

I homeschool. The myriad reasons why is a topic I'm not ready to tackle yet. It's such a big topic, I may pick at it one reason at a time.

My grandmother-in-law mailed me the article posted below last week. It addresses one of the reasons I homeschool, one of the doubts I have about homeschooling and the criticism I get most often from those who don't homeschool- Socialization.

If you've ever met my kids, you know that they are two gregarious, headstrong, grounded and well-mannered little boys. Critics of homeschooling constantly ask, "aren't you worried that they aren't around kids enough?", "don't you worry about their socialization?". When I hear these things over and over, doubt creeps in even though I can look at my sons and know that they are wonderfully socialized.

I wish they had more little kids around to play with, but they don't seem to think they are missing out on anything. When I think of relationships I had with other children growing up, I realize that I received more negative things than positive things from those relationships. I often felt bad about myself because was excluded from the "in" clique. I was influenced by and exposed to things I never would have done were it not for peer pressure. I was picked last in gym. I was stereotyped as one of the "smart kids" (a group of kids with whom I had nothing in common) and fretted about my image until my sophomore or junior year when I decided I really didn't care.

None of this can be credited as life experience that readied me for the real world, because face it, the real world is not like K-12. I know I'm not the only person who felt the breath of fresh air upon getting to college or to work and being freed from rules and constraints that only exist in school. If anything, the kids at the top of the school pecking order graduate with the disadvantage. It was pathetic to see some of those people at my 10-year reunion. Many of them had done nothing with their lives and were still trying to cling to their High School glory.

So are my kids missing out on socialization? Yes. They are missing out on a lot of negative socialization that will do little to help them in their lives.

QUESTION: Don’t you think home schooling might negatively impact the socialization process? I don’t want my children growing up to be misfits.

DR. DOBSON: This is the question home-schooling parents hear most often from curious (or critical) friends, relatives, and neighbors. “Socialization” is a vague, dark cloud hanging over their heads. What if teaching at home somehow isolates the kids and turns them into oddballs? For you and all those parents who see this issue as the great danger of home education, I would respectfully disagree – for these reasons.

First, to remove a child from the classroom is not necessarily to confine him or her to the house! And once beyond the schoolyard gate, the options are practically unlimited! Home-school support groups are surfacing in community after community across the country. Some are highly organized and offer field trips, teaching co-ops, tutoring services, social activities, and various other assistances and resources.

There are home-schooling athletic leagues and orchestras and other activities. Even if you’re operating completely on your own, there are outings to museums and parks, visits to farms, factories, hospitals, and seats of local government, days with Dad at the office, trips to Grandma’s house, extracurricular activities like sports and music, church youth groups, service organizations, and special-interest clubs. There are friends to be invited over and relatives to visit and parties to attend.

The list is limitless. Even a trip with Mom to the market can provide youngsters with invaluable exposure to the lives and daily tasks of real adults in the real world. While they’re there, a multitude of lessons can be learned about math (pricing, fractions, pints vs. gallons, addition, subtraction, etc.), reading labels, and other academic subjects. And without the strictures of schedule and formal curricula, it can all be considered part of the educational process. That’s what I’d call socialization at its best! To accuse home schoolers of creating strange little people in solitary confinement is nonsense.

The great advantage of home schooling, in fact, is the protection it provides to vulnerable children from the wrong kind of socialization. When children interact in large groups, the strongest and most aggressive kids quickly intimidate the weak and vulnerable. I am absolutely convinced that bad things happen to immature and “different” boys and girls when they are thrown into the highly competitive world of other children.

When this occurs in nursery school or in kindergarten, they learn to fear their peers. There stands this knobby-legged little girl who doesn’t have a clue about life or how to cope with things that scare her. It’s sink or swim, kid. Go for it!

It is easy to see why such children tend to become more peer dependent because of the jostling they get at too early an age. Research shows that if these tender little boys and girls can be kept at home for a few more years and shielded from the impact of social pressure, they tend to be more confident, more independent, and often emerge as leaders three or four years later.

If acquainting them with ridicule, rejection, physical threats, and the rigors of the pecking order is necessary to socialize our children, I’d recommend that we keep them unsocialized for a little longer.


  1. You go girl!!!! Your boys are the best!!!!

  2. Another advantage of home schooling: the ratio of adult to child is much improved.....hence a better opportunity to teach and role model. You homeschool 2 boys? The ratio is 1 adult:2 children. For other families with one child the ratio can be 1 or 2 adults:1 child. Think of the possibilities for adult socialization over childhood traumas. Many schools have a ratio of 1:25-30 and are continuing to increase student numbers considered acceptable....

    By the way, what is that graphic on the right of your page? it seems to be crop circles.....

  3. An oldie but goody:

    And Gail, they can be crop circles if it makes you happy. I just found it to be pleasingly earthy (and not in a "green" way).