Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A New Take On the "Socialization" Question

Several weeks ago at a girls' night some friends of mine were asking me questions about homeschool.  I'm always happy to answer any questions. 

Of course, the socialization issue came up.  I've read several blogs that have eloquently stated rebuttals and explanations as to why socialization is not something to worry about.  I'm not as eloquent as them.  So for the moment, forgive me for the gross oversimplification: Socialization is a myth and a non-issue.  Just trust me for now.

But then one friend said something that really threw me for a loop.  She said that her father holds an important position at our local LDS Family Services counseling center.  And he claimed that ALL of the young missionaries who came to get counseling because they could not function in their companionships were homeschooled. 

What??  How is that possible??  Homeschoolers don't know how to get along with and live with strangers from all walks of life?  Homeschoolers are bad missionaries? 

My friend was asking how one would combat that.  I had no good answer for her and for the evening, it seemed like I would be doing my children a disservice if I didn't send them to public high school (at least) so they could learn to associate with all types of people. 

I've always said that my kids learn just as much about bullies, teasing, and having to deal with people they may not like at the moment by being at home than they would by going to school.  And I can't see how sitting in 6 different classrooms for 6 hours of the day would help teach them "real life" people skills.  But maybe I was wrong??

Working under the assumption that this statistic my friend's father claimed is true, I was eager to learn more.  I contemplated and prayed about it and discussed it with Hubby.  Hubby is in favor of our children having the option of going to public high school (a bridge we will cross when we come to it).  But even so, he was able to help me think things through and alleviate some of my fears.

But even more helpful was a conversation I had with a new friend I met, Sarah.  Sarah was homeschooled from 5th grade through graduation, homeschooled her teenage sibling through high school, and is currently homeschooling several of her own young children.  She was able to give me some great insight. (And for the record, she didn't seem one bit socially awkward to me.)

Basically, Sarah observed that homeschooled kids who were "brainiac," socially awkward, and had a hard time making friends had parents who were also introverted, socially awkward, and would rather stay at home and have their child be their only friend (and it would be natural for this kind of parent to be interested in homeschooling.)  There's probably a "Nature vs. Nurture" discussion that could be had there.  She also observed that these kids usually had zero or one sibling. 

That makes total sense to me!  So I'm going to assume that this was the case with the majority of missionaries that my friend's dad counseled.

So to any readers who are considering homeschooling and have several kids, don't worry!  They'll probably be fine. 

To any readers who are considering homeschooling their only child, maybe just make an extra effort to make sure your kid is involved with church groups, enrichment classes, sports teams, scouts, community activities, etc. 

It's nice to have more of an answer to this dilemma I briefly experienced.  But either way, the bottom line is that Hubby and I prayed about our decision to homeschool.  And we have had confirmation time and again that this is the right choice for our children right now.  If that means in the future that they will have an extra challenge when they serve a mission or go live in college dorms, then they will have to deal with it and learn and grow when they come to it.  I trust that our lives are in God's hands and that He has a plan for my family. 

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