Note: Since writing this post, I have written two, updated posts about issues concerning socialization: On Homeschooling, Socialization and Religion Part 1 and Homeschooling and Socialization Part 2.
This post was written on April 5, 2009.
I know that skeptics probably have many concerns about homeschooling, but these are my biggest concerns: socialization, financial considerations, and what other people (specifically some of my family members) are going to think. I’m going to split this post into two because I have a lot to say about my first topic, socialization.
After doing some research, and reading The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith, I have learned that socialization is one of the top concerns for almost all new homeschoolers or those who oppose it. However, for seasoned homeschoolers, socialization seems to be a non-issue. I especially like what Renee of FIMBY said in her video presentation about homeschooling (and I’m paraphrasing because I watched it some time ago): she said that she never worried about socialization. Her children socialize together, and they are very active in their community. They meet people of all ages, and they have no trouble speaking or relating to other people.
In The Homeschooling Handbook, which I’ll talk about more in another post, there were quotes from many different homeschooling families, and some of them felt that the socialization homeschoolers get – with children and adults of all ages – is much healthier than putting the children in a classroom all day with kids of the same age – the blind leading the blind so to speak. Furthermore, I get the feeling that if you, as parents, are active and make an effort to take your children to activities around the community, there will be ample opportunity for socialization. I know that around Athens, there are many places that offer classes and fun activities for children. The Homeschooling Handbook even mentioned that some schools let homeschoolers participate in certain classes or extracurricular activities. I have not yet looked into this. It would depend on how flexible the schools were.
Right now there are so many homeschooling groups across the United States that any homeschooler should not have a hard time finding a support group. I did a quick search for groups in my area, and I found several. I have signed up for two listservs. One is for homeschoolers in Athens, and one is for a neighboring county. I posted “newcomer” questions to both lists. No one in Athens answered my query, which was disappointing, so I know I’ll have to dig a little deeper, if I want to do things there. [Update: Since writing this post, I have found the Athens listserv to be very welcoming and helpful.] The other list seems much more active, and two people responded to me. Coincidently, I found a woman who lives within walking distance to me, and she homeschools two children. She assured me that I should have no worries about finding activities with other kids. We live out in the country, and she said that she participates in many different groups’ activities. She picks and chooses, depending on what sounds good. She said her children are also active at the YWCA, and she said there they have the opportunity to meet non-homeschooled children. And, of course, for families who attend church, that is another social outlet.
I also have had some homeschoolers say that if you cannot find a group you like, you can always start your own! Whether you want your kids to have park time with other children, or whether you want to start a specific study group, you can always post a notice at the library and see who bites! I am fortunate in that my step-mother’s niece lives nearby, and she is planning to homeschool her three boys. I’m sure that together, we could find a couple more homeschooling families to start a small group with.
So socialization is not a big worry for me anymore. I tend to be shy, and my son is very shy, but I don’t think going to school will necessarily make him un-shy, just like it didn’t make me un-shy. I know that it will be up to me to find activities for him to participate in, and fortunately, we live in an area where I don’t think that will be a big problem.
UPDATE May 31, 2011: I also write about concerns and issues regarding homeschooling on my FAQ page. There is an update to our socialization concerns there too.