Socialization is not about a group of kids all the same age always being together. True socialization doesn't happen in a bubble and is about people of ALL ages interacting with one another. When kids are feeling alone, then getting out into the world can provide the socialization they are craving.
How to encourage homeschool socialization.
Homeschool socialization. That seems to be a topic that is talked about at length when the topic of homeschooling is brought up. And, yet, we homeschoolers know what others outside of the homeschool arena don't - that socialization is usually the least of our worries. In case you need some ideas, here are some that I used with my boys.
- Family and family outings.
- Play-only groups; many support groups will have park days in the summer. It may be worth joining a group JUST to meet kids are park days.
- Homeschool days at various activities: skating and bowling businesses will often have "homeschool days."
- Church and youth groups.
- Volunteer work; work together at a food bank, clothing bank, YMCA or church camps.
- Community classes: take pottery, photography, or exercise classes with a local YMCA. Take art classes at Michael's or JoAnn stores.
- Fitness groups; join a swim team, running team, or volksmarching.
- Call local homeschool groups and ask "What are some ways your group gets together?"
What do you say about homeschool socialization?
You and I know that homeschool socialization isn't a problem. But, what do you do when people ask you about the socialization of your children? How do you answer them? Do you blow them off with a flip answer, or have you had any good conversations where people 'see the light'? I asked a few of my friends what kinds of experiences they've had with this question, and they shared some of their stories below.
"My husband is military and last summer brought a move; our first move since we started home schooling. As fall came and school started up, my 8th grader joined the Chapel Youth Group. Their first meeting was a fun night; bowling and ice cream. My husband drove, and hung in the background to check things out. At the end of the evening, the young woman who runs the group asked if Lauren was home schooled. My husband answered yes, but thought, "what now." Her response: "I could tell that she is. She is confident in who she is, polite, and engaged in conversation not only with the other youth but also with the adult chaperones." This young woman herself had been home schooled, and encouraged us in our journey! It was such a blessing!"
"I am a former paraprofessional from the school in our neighborhood. I resigned 6 years ago to homeschool our children, and I get bugged all the time about the socialization aspect of my children's education. My favorite story relating to this topic is when I was on a field trip with our homeschooling group. A few teenage girls were talking about how it annoys them when people question them about the socialization factor. One girl said that one time some one asked her how they made friends, and she said, "I do it just like you do. I smile and say hello." I thought that was great!"
"My mother took our 3 kids (13, 11, and 8 yrs) and I to a posh small tea room for Devonshire tea (cup of tea with scones, jam and cream). The tea came out piping hot, so I showed them how my grandma used to put some tea onto the saucer to cool it down and give it to me as a child to drink from the saucer. The 2 younger children (the boys) then proceed to drink their entire teapots of tea via their cup then saucer (much to the embarrassment of their 13 year old sister!). My sister dropped into the shop weeks later, and heard that my children impressed the lady serving the tea. She commented on their good manners, sitting up to have their tea. They were the best-behaved children she had had there!!! All I can say is I reckon the bar is not set very high, and I think we will make and surpass it no worries."
Have you seen my Disapproving, Insensitive Relatives Translator (DIRT)? It's a translation guide to help homeschool parents deal with disapproving, insensitive relatives. You know the type…the relatives who make you feel like DIRT, hahaha!
A little story for the next time you're asked about homeschool socialization.
In 2006, my boys were two of 108 top applicants invited to compete for ten full-tuition scholarships at Seattle Pacific University. All 108 invitees had great SAT scores. All had compelling personal stories. Between them, they had thousands of hours of community service. Indeed, there was very little - on paper - to distinguish one from the other. That is why, I suppose, SPU held a full day competition to make their decision.
When they were on campus that day, students were evaluated in all types of settings: classroom observation, panel discussions, faculty interviews, dining table conversations, and walking between classes. For eight hours, they were under a microscope. When they got back home, both boys agreed it was the most exciting and invigorating day of their lives.
Only ten full-tuition scholarships were given that year and my homeschooled kids got two of them! What made the difference? In addition to the normal stuff (GPA, SAT, community service), we were told the winners were chosen based on such things as:
- interaction with their peers
- engagement with the faculty
- self confidence
- a well developed sense of who they are
In a nutshell, they were chosen based on socialization. Now isn't that the most ironic thing you've ever heard?!
Remember, we did nothing special. We were just an ordinary homeschool family struggling our way through high school. The only difference was that we taught our kids at home, independently.
Eventually, the world will recognize the superior socialization provided by homeschooling. Do not be discouraged when you are asked for the thousandth time, "what about socialization?" Just smile and tell them our story and think about stories you will be able to tell in a few years!
Do you have a favorite homeschool socialization story? I'd love to hear it!