Yup, that socialization word is out and about again….

Why do people think public school is important for socialization and that home school somehow can’t be?  I am sick of hearing people (yes even friends) say public school is all about socialization because they need to learn how to get along with people they don’t like. Interesting, because I didn’t think that is what is always being taught in school nor the main point of school.  And, who says students can’t learn such a concept outside of school walls?  Having social skills and having a social life are two different things.  Socialization is more than just kids socializing with kids.  And, even those homeschooling can do socializing as well as learn about getting along with people they don’t like.

I know from working in the schools, not all children receive developmental guidance lessons but only those who got referred for it and if the school had a guidance counselor to provide it.  Not all schools even have guidance counselors or is shared with other campuses.  Some schools don’t even have access to a school psychologist more than one day a week.  Rarer yet is direct social skills training or even etiquette training.  Yes, some schools have character education lessons for all.  However, when and where are they practicing it?  Have people gone into the schools and seen it in action?  Some do, but definitely not all.

If the school’s main role is socialization, what is happening to academics?   Yes, schools are agents of socialization but they are not the only ones.  And, there is a difference between socialization and social skills. I know that all schools are not evil or bad or horrible social experiences.  Yes, some are.  However, too many people think that all homeschoolers are isolated or sheltered in a bubble and that no socialization can occur when a child is not in a school.  This is far from the truth.

I can tell you from first hand experience in 3 different public school districts and 1 charter system in Texas that it is not as pro-social as people want to believe.  Recess is not what it used to be.  It is not free play anymore.  Instead recess is broken into part time PE and part time run wild.  Seriously, 10-15 minutes of either walking laps or dictated exercises and then 10-15 minutes to play on the playground equipment.  Some of the schools even have rules for recess that include no running, no tag, no balls, etc. But if there is bad weather or too hot/cold of temperatures, than its indoor recess which is watching a movie or video.  Worse yet, during state testing days its silence during recess if they are even allowed to have it.

Lunch is not what it used to be either due to assigned seating, sometimes alternating boy girl, and more often than naught silent lunch.  Our son’s school was silent lunch much of the time.  Students would be moved to the isolated table where they would be spread out even further if caught talking.  All of this because lunch time is 25 minutes total (sometimes shorter) to get in, get food or pull out packed lunch, eat, and clean-up.  Pending how many were getting lunch from the school there were days that kids only had 10 minutes to actually eat their food.  Lunch like this is definitely not a time for socialization as well as not promoting healthy eating habits.

During the school day, children aren’t allowed to freely interact with whomever or wherever.  In fact, unless it is a group project, interactions are discouraged because of the work being done and how much materials teachers have to cover in one day. During transition between classes, it’s often in lines and in silence because of overcrowding in classes and buildings.  Again, not opportunities for socializing or practicing social skills.

There are definitely misconceptions on what homeschoolers actually do.  But, many also do not want to acknowledge that schools do not always teach appropriate social skills.  There are lots of definitions of socialization, but the main one is the process where one acquires personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills of their culture.   This process does not occur in isolation within only a school building which is why people are making a huge mistake in thinking students in homeschool do not get socialization.  The socialization within a school setting is different.

For us as homeschoolers, our son is getting socialization from our church, the greater community (museums, travel to other cities), stores, theaters, state parks, national parks, monuments, coops, playgroups, etc.), his friends (peers), and the family (both immediate and extended).  He is not kept in a bubble or isolated from the world.  In fact, our son is seeing, socializing, and interacting with much more of the Houston community than his peers in a traditional school setting.  He is learning how to behave, interact, and follow social norms in many different community settings.  He is learning etiquette and manners at restaurants and theaters.  He is learning more social norms and social skills in the greater community than schools actually teach.  Schools should not be viewed as the only place for socialization. In fact the families should be playing a bigger role in the socialization of their children.  Socialization is a lifelong process, not just done solely within the walls of a school.