In part 1 of this series, I talked about Luke’s home school experience and my public school experience with social skills. In part 2, I posted a Luann comic about socialization in public school. Here is my input on homeschooling and how it is actually better at teaching social skills than public school.
According to dictionary.com socialize means “to make social; make fit for life in companionship with others.” Because the definition for “socialize” uses the root word in it, I went ahead and looked up the word “social.” Dictionary.com defines it as “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious.”
When I think of my public school experience, the definition above does not come to mind. A typical school day consisted of free time before school, class, several minutes to change classes, lunch and recess (in elementary school). In high school there were two 5-10 minute breaks instead of recess. Because students typically were not allowed to talk in class, the time to socialize was before school, a 20 minute lunch (barely time to eat, let along talk), and breaks/recess.
While it is true that sitting still and being quiet is a social skill, it is only one circumstance that does not change from day to day. Children are taught to be quiet during class, but there are not many other opportunities to learn other social skills. Even when children are allowed to discuss and/or share their viewpoints, only those who already have social skills and are brave enough to speak up raise their hands to answer and share. The others are very likely to sit back and look like they are listening.
Children who are home schooled encounter many different circumstances and opportunities to learn a variety of social skills. They are more likely to go on many different field trips that teach them how to become “fit for life in companionship with others” as listed in the definition above. Different social skills are used to visit a science museum than are used to visit an art museum or the fire station. Not only that, but because home school groups are usually smaller than public school groups, there is more opportunity to speak up and ask questions and actually interact. Because public school groups are so large, it is easy to sit back and listen to what everyone else has to say (like I used to do) instead of interacting.
Socialization at my school was limited to children of my own age, my teachers, and maybe my school bus driver. We lived in a rural area where there were not many children to play with (until Luke’s family moved in), so there was not socializing after school. Just boring ole homework. 🙂
Home school students are constantly around children of diverse ages. They work with their parents to learn their lessons and then are able to teach the same concepts to their younger siblings. From the younger sibling’s point of view, they interact with older siblings and also get to learn the same concept taught in multiple ways. In Luke’s family, the younger siblings also got to spend time with their nieces and nephews and children from other home school groups.
Home school groups allow home schooled children, regardless of birth order, to learn to interact with children of various ages and adults. There are home school groups all over the country, and they are usually pretty easy to find. The groups usually have activities for both similar age children and children of all ages. The amazing thing about most home schooled children is that they get along with children of all ages – and actually enjoy it.
When I got together with my home school group last month, three teenage girls took temporary ownership of my 2 year old and enjoyed it thoroughly. I had to do very little for her because these older girls were eager to do it. The whole time the group was together there was a constant game of capture the flag with children ranging in age from 5 to 17! They didn’t just play side by side; they played together. They were “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others;” being “friendly, sociable, and gregarious” as the definition of “social” states.
I feel that it is necessary at this point to say that I do not oppose public schools. Some of my kids’ best friends go to a public school. There are public schooled children who get along with children of all ages. There are those students that make a point to raise their hands and participate and, in so doing, grow up with wonderful social skills. Your child can learn awesome social skills, regardless of whether he/she is in public, private, or home school. The key in any aspect of a child’s learning, including social skills, is the participation of the parents. I will talk more about the role of the parents in teaching social skills in “Are Home Schoolers Socialized Part 4.