Well, the first thing we need to do in order to actually discuss this is define the word socialize. According to the Free Dictionary, socialize means:
so·cial·ize (ssh-lz)v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, so·cial·iz·es v.tr.1. To place under government or group ownership or control.2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society. v.intr. To take part in social activities.
Let’s consider those definitions. The first one, to place under government or group ownership or control, is not one that I would want to apply to my children, and I think most other parents would agree. Yet, by sending our children to public school, that is the definition being used, although most don’t realize it. We are placing our children under the control of the government for 4-8 hours a day, depending on where you live. So, since I don’t want that definition to apply to my kids, I don’t need to explain how I would socialize them that way.
The second definition, to make fit for companionship with others or make sociable, and the third definition, to convert or adapt to the needs of society, are ones that I would think of and want for my children. So, the question is how do I make my children fit for companionship with others, sociable, and convert or adapt them to the needs of society? It’s really very simple. And it doesn’t require sending them off to a public school.
Consider this: How many times did your teacher tell you “You’re here to learn, not to socialize!” when you talked in class? I know I heard it a lot, but I couldn’t shut up as a kid. 🙂 That alone is a pretty clear indicator that school isn’t the best place to socialize. But let’s look at some other questions:
1. How many situations, other than school, have you had to ask permission to use the bathroom?
2. How many situations, other than school, put you in a room filled with people who are your age, give or take a few months?
3. How does sitting in a classroom, organized by alphabetical order, quietly doing math, language arts, social studies or science, teach you to be sociable? How does it adapt you to the needs of society?
The answer to the first two is usually “none.” The answer to the third is “it doesn’t.” The truth is, homeschooling is more conducive to socializing than “traditional” school. By homeschooling, you can take your children with you to the grocery store, the post office, and the gas station. You can go on field trips to the museum, the park, the ice cream shop, wildlife refuges, and countless other places. These are the situations in which they can learn true socialization. They will talk to people of all ages, races, cultures and personalities. That is what happens in real life.
A final definition of socialize is to take part in social activities. I don’t know about your kids, but when mine were in public school, they came home with homework that took upwards of two hours to complete. So by the time we got home from school, finished homework, and had dinner, there was little to no time to play outside, play with friends or get involved in any other activities. The weekends were our only chance for that, and even those were partially taken up with the errands and chores that we didn’t get to during the week because of…you guessed it, school and homework.
Homeschooling has freed up our schedule to allow more time for social activities. We define our schedule. We move at the pace my children set. When they master a skill, we move on – which means if they master a skill today, they just might get a couple of free hours because the next lesson isn’t quite ready. We can arrange to do school early in the morning to allow for afternoon social plans or to do school in the late afternoon or early evening to accommodate our morning activities. We have more time for friends and fun. Life is no longer so rushed and filled with stress.
One last thing, because I brought it up: One of the things I often hear is about how public/private school is “traditional” school. Do a little research into the history of education. Compulsory education in America didn’t exist until near the beginning of the 20th century. While there were public schools, most families continued to homeschool through the middle of the 19th century. If anything, homeschooling is “traditional” school.
Socialization is not about sitting in a classroom with children your own age, listening to a teacher drone on and on, before taking a test to prove you’ve mastered material. Socialization is about being able to carry on a coherent conversation with people of all ages, in any given social situation. A classroom isn’t conducive to that lesson – but the world is. And when you homeschool, the world is your classroom.