Personal Experience and Research on Homeschooling and Socialization
While at first thought, considering the fact that school is often assumed to be done only inside the home, it seems that a social environment may be unavailable. However, a homeschooled child may actually have more opportunity than others to gain positive social skills and interact with people. One reason for this is that because of the flexibility in class scheduling, as well as the unique opportunity to learn whenever or wherever desired, homeschoolers are often around a variety of people during the day.
In fact, in a study published by the NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute), homeschool students had scores in social skills that were higher than those of kids in public schools. As a homeschool parent, this study doesn't surprise me at all, as I observed positive social results from homeschool in my children who previously attended public school, as well as those who homeschooled exclusively at first.
One way children who attend a homeschool can interact is through activities. THis may include dance classes, religious activities (if applicable), Girl Scouts, 4H, sports, extra classes, YMCA, rec center memberships, and much more. Any activity available to a public or private school student is also available to a home school student.
However, homeschooled students actually have an advantage in this area because they can join activities that public schooled children also have available, as well as join homeschool-specific activities. These activities can be utilized at any time of the day because of the versatility of rearranging the academic schedule around them.
Some homeschooled kids also take academic and elective classes outside of the home. This gives them the chance to be around their peers and if the classes are taken in addition to classes they learn at home, it also gives them an academic boost.
Many homeschool families also plan a good amount of field trips. When homeschooling, there is the versatility of being able to plan a field trip for every unit of study, if desired. Field trips will generally involve a diverse public scene, which is great for socialization, as this is how the real world is.
A good number of homeschooling families opt for yearly passes or membership to museums, zoos, and other educational places. In some states, like Texas, home schools who are members of a homeschool group, association, or organization can get a teacher or educator discount at many of the field trip locations.
Speaking of home school groups, that's another way homeschooled children can interact with peers. These groups, associations, and organizations often plan parties, book sales, curriculum exchanges, field trips, play dates, fairs, and other social events where the children will interact with each other. According to the HSLDA, the average homeschooled child is involved in about 5.2 social activities. 98% are involved in at least 2 activities.
Many homeschooling families also get active in library events, such as story time, craft classes, and educational classes. A day time trip to the grocery store where a homeschooled child uses math to purchase groceries and communicates with the cashier can be a mini social event as well.
There are many events like these in a homeschooler's life, as many of them believe in using every opportunity possible to learn lessons and to communicate with others. Because of this, a child in home school is likely to possess excellent teamwork skills, which are very necessary in college and in the workforce.
As you can see, homeschooled children will be exposed to many social environments throughout their homeschooling experience. Because of the flexibility in homeschooling and the availability of so many activities and opportunities, homeschooled children will be around a variety of age groups, races, and other socioeconomic backgrounds, possibly more so than children in a traditional school setting.
Even the ones who do the majority of their schooling in the home are likely still involved in activities, as well as playing and interacting with friends and relatives, which still gives them social experience.
From all of the information above, as well as personal experience and study, I would have to conclude that homeschooled children actually have a social advantage over those in public or private school, not a disadvantage, as is often mistakenly assumed.
For those interested in homeschooling or just interested in finding out more information and research on homeschooling, I recommend that you visit the following links, do your own research, as well as talk to other homeschoolers to see what they’re doing.
Recommended Research and Info Sources:
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute)
NHELD (National Home Education Legal Defense)
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)
HSLDA 1997 Study on Social Skills in Homeschooled Kids
NHERI Volume 17 Study on Homeschooled Childrens’ Social Skills
I am also available for many homeschooling questions at Ask Lyn.
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***I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network