A New Look at Socialization Skills Within a Homeschool
How Can Homeschooled Children Make & Find Friends?
Some people might assume that because children homeschool, they will not have any friends. This is simply not true. Friends can be made from your neighborhood, an extra class, at the park, at the museum, within your own extended family, and various other avenues. A public school is not the only place one can acquire a friend.
Homeschooled children are allowed to call and play with their friends, just as a publicly or privately schooled child would. It is no different. There are birthday parties, slumber parties, shopping trips, and more - all the activities traditionally schooled friends do as well.
How is it Possible to Get Social Interaction During Homeschool?
In many homeschooling families, extra steps are taken to be sure that socialization is included, which means there is researching to be done on the parent's part for the methods and sometimes extra classes that will provide this.
This research often leads to finding solutions that focus on positive interaction with others because any good method will focus on the positive, rather than the negative. Social interaction is also given special attention, thus making socialization greatly important to a homeschooling family.
Positive Social Skills VS Negative Socialization
This special attention mentioned above often isn't given in public or private school because it is sometimes assumed that since the children are with other children all day, they are socializing well. However, this assumption shouldn't always be made. All socialization isn't positive. It can be negative as well. This is a fact looked over by many.
While some teachers do provide some great character development and social instruction in public school, which they are to be commended for, the children are often greatly influenced by each other. This comes naturally, as they desire to fit in. Also, it is simply just fun for them to relate with each other, which is certainly okay when that relating isn't negative.
During recess, the children are within sight of the teachers, but not always within earshot or in immediate reach, which can lead to some of them using inappropriate language or behaviors. The others either tell them they don't like those words or actions or they repeat them.
Now all the children that were in that general area have heard that language or seen that behavior and some will want to use it -- and they will. This, in turn, spreads the negative action to even more kids, cycling and creating a viral pattern. Pretty soon it will get to most of the children who are in the same age range.
Another reason that viral cycle happens is that once a certain number of kids are doing something, others begin to view it as okay. It becomes more accepted because they are used to seeing it and it doesn't even cross some of their minds that it might be wrong.
Perhaps if children were taught from the beginning how to interact positively, rather than negatively, some of these problems wouldn't exist later in life, which brings me back to homeschooling.
Extra Effort Can Make a Difference in the Quality of Social Skills
The main difference I’ve seen with homeschool socialization and public school socialization is the fact that in homeschool, much more effort is put into developing social skills, because of the fact that children may not be with other children all day (unless they have siblings). The fact that parents know other children aren't present -- and the effort put in to make up for that -- often makes for a child who is more likely to interact with most people in a positive way.
One more reason that positive social interaction is often more readily learned in a homeschool setting is because homeschooled children will be exposed to people of all ages throughout the day. This makes for a much more diverse learning experience.
Importance of Mixed-Age Grouping for Social Skills
Even better, when there is more than one child in the family, working together is often a huge part of the schooling process, even in siblings that range in age. Some homeschooling families even teach from a mixed-age perspective, leading to a great deal of cooperation with each other.
Group cooperation is an important skill needed throughout life. Many colleges actively seek out home schooled children because of their exceptional social and educational abilities.
Making the Right Social Choices for Your Child Specifically
In closing, I will say that not all public school interaction is negative and not all homeschool interaction is positive. Ultimately, it is up to the parent to examine what situations are best for each individual child. Many children make it through public school fine, as do many in homeschool.
People should come to realize that socialization isn't about whether you choose school at home or utilize public school or other options, but about whether a positive environment is created for the child. If the social environment your child is in right now is not a positive one, it is time to consider other options.
Those options may or may not be completely switching the child's schooling style. It could be just doing it in a different way or finding creative ways to incorporate positive socialization.
Whatever method you choose, be sure it is one both you and your child will feel comfortable with.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network