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But what about socialization?

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

We’ve all heard the question surrounding the topic of homeschooling: “But what about socialization?” When I posed this question to my 2 oldest kids, they literally burst out laughing, and with good reason! My 13 year-old-daughter said “We see our friends ALL the TIME!” Socialization is a very important concern, so let’s address the pervasive myth directly.

We humans are social beings, and learn and thrive being connected to other people. The social connections we choose help mold and shape our children, and challenge us to think. Social interactions become the framework for our children’s problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and social norms. As homeschoolers our options are plentiful and intentional for the ages and needs of each of our children. We want our kids to have fun, too!

When people want to know about social opportunities for the kids, they are most often thinking of activities with peers outside of the home. The local library has story time for your toddlers and the local recreational association has sports for every age! Those were easy places to start getting contact with peers. When our oldest was 6 we joined a local homeschool group we met through our church, and immediately had opportunities for fun classes, play dates at the park, and holiday parties. I met other parents navigating academic options and guiding through social situations all in the same interest of forming our children to be the best they could be!

A recurring favorite activity for many years has been a morning co-op session where the kids have a class (yes, in chairs in a classroom with a teacher that isn’t Mama) and explore an interesting topic. They have learned about nature, books, art, music, theater, National Parks, wars through history, world cultures, and science experiments… just to name a few! They are grouped by age, and many of their lasting friendships were born from their time there.

Over the years we have added and dropped various activities based on the needs of our children and whole family. We have played soccer and volleyball, taken ballet, built gingerbread houses, done service projects in our local community, joined boys and girls clubs, karate, music lessons, plenty of times at parks and libraries, museum field trips, and SO MUCH more! There are times when we have to skip something to stay home and take a deep breath!

Another aspect of socialization for homeschoolers is the great joy and benefit that comes from having our children interact with various age groups. Society at large is not constructed of peer groups, but rather of mixed ages and expertise learning to work together toward a common goal. An 11-year-old shares some play time with a sweet little 6-year-old who is new to the group and doesn’t know friends yet. On a recent multi-family camping trip an 18-year-old friend came and taught my 13 and 10-year-olds how to play a new card game, and the pre-teens played volleyball with the high-schoolers against the adults. I’ve witnessed teens helping toddlers wash hands and elementary youth converse easily with adults as part of normal everyday life. The activities that span age groups helps normalize team work across different abilities and perspectives, thus helping everyone grow in patience and wisdom while they ultimately have fun!

As parents we want our children to have a wonderful, fun childhood full of giggles with friends, healthy competition, and create lasting memories while also learning the skills they will need to grow into mature well-rounded adults. They will need to know how to work with people of different ages, to compromise with people who are difficult, and to share and learn from the expertise of many people. So, my question for you is: How is the regular school system better at helping them with that?

~ Kate T.

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