Probably the number one issue people raise when homeschooling is mentioned is The S Word: Socialization. How do those renegade homeschoolers hope to socoalize enough if they aren’t in peer class groups 8 hours a day? For this months comtemplations from myself and my 3 homeschooled siblings, we talk a little about how and where we managed to become well-socialized individuals.
What activities/events/experiences helped you learn group social dynamics?
Living across the street from a public park definitely helped. This is where I met almost all of my best friends growing up. Having that outlet and attending martial arts classes basically launched me into socialization. I definitely ended up on a different track than most homeschooled children. When I was around fourteen, I had quite a few friends who all went to public school. I found myself spending several hours a day at the high school they all attended. That put me in situations where I was learning social dynamics of my peers without the pressures exerted on them by that system. I often felt like an undercover journalist. I never found myself able to open up to most of the people I met in homeschooling groups. I think that is because they were relatively small groups, and I felt forced to interact with these kids, and I just didn’t feel I had much in common with them.
Getting the chance to interact with many people outside my age range was also hugely beneficial to my growth socially. Not having to grow up in a situation where adults were always teachers, or principals, etc. gave me the ability to learn to interact with everyone as equals first, and learn hierarchical relationships later on when they became necessary or inevitable.
The Body Worker:
Our children’s theater group was a big one. Being in the theater was always helpful for group socializing. Also, since we had such big family, I think that I had quite a healthy dose of group social dynamics at home. Ballet was useful, in a different way since it was more guided, classroom interaction. The World Wildlife Federation summer retreats we went on were extremely helpful in learning group social dynamics. I also remember the science classes we had with a couple of other homeschooling families being fun for group socializing/learning.
The homeschooling group was good but more so just having access to many different people who shared common interests with us as we grew up. As I look back now at the people that we socialized with it is interesting to see how much we mixed with people who were like us. e.g. It is not that strange for my friends now and most of them for when we were kids to have some sort of advanced or professional degree.
Theatre, choir, ballet, homeschooling groups…there were lots of opportunities to meet and hang out with lots of different people. Also I think, because we did so much with a small group of homeschoolers (writing classes, science group, etc.) we had a lot of opportunity to really delve into those friendships. Even though I don’t see those friends foten, when I do run into them I feel a deep connection and we can talk about our mutual history in a very different way than I can talk with other friends I knew who were in school.
There were lots of adults in our life who treated us like peers. They expressed interest in our interests and work, gave real feedback when we needed it, and supported our interests. I think we learned to socialize with all kinds of people on many levels, and to reach out to all people as potential friends and community, regardless of age and peer-status.
When I experimented with public school as a high-school freshman, I was confused and shocked by the nature of group social dynamics. People didn’t try to connect with each other, there was so much griping and small cruel teasing and whining. It was nothing like I had ever really encountered, even in situations like ballet or theatre that were populated largely by school kids. After the whole life socialization I was used to, the nature of the school socialization felt toxic.
Between the 4 of us we have over 40 years expereience as homeschoolers. What do you want to know about homeschooling, from a graduate’s perspective? Just ask!
You can check out the rest of the series here: