Whenever homeschooling is being discussed, socialization is brought up. How can kids be socialized if they’re homeschooled? The answer to this question is easy: think of all the social opportunities your kid(s) or the kids you know have outside of school. Homeschooled kids can do those things too. Homeschooled kids also have many opportunities to socialize with other homeschooled kids while public/private school kids are at school. Offering homeschooled kids social opportunities is not a problem.
So what is the problem with socialization? Well, the issue isn’t with socialization, it’s with many of the people who bring it up. Don’t get me wrong: many people who bring up socialization truly are curious about it, and they are usually reassured when they hear how much socialization homeschooled kids actually get. But many people don’t actually want an answer. They are arguing in bad faith because they really want homeschooling to be a bad thing. They don’t care that most homeschool families aren’t like the Duggars, or that homeschooled kids can graduate high school, go to college or university, get degrees, and have successful careers, and they don’t care that homeschoolers actually can socialize with other people. You can provide all the evidence you want, but they will continually move the goalposts.
Frankly, I don’t care if a person chooses a different educational method for their kids. If a person refuses to even look into homeschooling and makes the decision to put their kids in a brick and mortar school, it doesn’t really matter how many misconceptions they have about homeschooling because their decision doesn’t affect me and their children will probably be just fine. But I do have an issue with people who publicly argue against homeschooling, saying that it should be made illegal, when they refuse to do the bare minimum amount of research into homeschooling and, when people correct their misconceptions, they choose to argue in bad faith and move the goalposts. If you don’t know what homeschool laws exist where you live, you’ve never looked into what homeschooling looks like in your area (who is homeschooling their kids? why are they homeschooling their kids? What kinds of programs exist for homeschoolers in your area?), and you’ve never bothered to so much as pick up a book on the topic, what makes you think you know whether it is right or wrong?
Now, I have an interesting point of view because I’ve been on both ends of the education spectrum. I was a public school teacher, and now I homeschool my own kids (this isn’t actually as unusual as I’m sure many people think it is). I’ve seen both sides. Don’t get me wrong: I like teaching. My reasons for never wanting to be a public school teacher again have nothing to do with the actual teaching part. If I didn’t like teaching, I wouldn’t choose to teach my own kids. And I don’t dislike teachers. I’ve met a number of wonderful teachers who love their students and want to do what’s best for them. But my time teaching strengthened my resolve to homeschool my own children. Socialization, to be perfectly honest, played a very small role in my decision to homeschool. I already knew my child would have no issue with socializing with other people. But negative social issues that exist within schools did play a role.
- I was supposed to have a trans boy in my class (he moved before the school year began) and I was told some disturbing things about his treatment at the school. Parents demanded their kids be removed from sharing a class with him simply because he was trans. They also demanded that their kids not be allowed to interact with him. Schools are largely scared of parents, so of course the administration agreed. Can you imagine being 7 years old and being isolated from other kids like that? Can you imagine how much damage that must have done to that poor child’s mental health? At 5/6 years old? He was also told he had to use the nurses bathroom because the boys were uncomfortable using the same bathroom as him. The bathroom was full of stalls, there were no urinals and the doors touched the floor. What were they uncomfortable about? Given that the oldest students at the school were 9, I doubt any of them were aware enough to be uncomfortable. I suspect more pressure from parents. Yet again, this poor boy was not only isolated from his classmates, but also singled out. His business was apparently everyone’s business. My children aren’t likely to be trans, but I wouldn’t want them to ever be treated like this. I would never allow fully grown adults to bully my children the way this boy was bullied (yes, this is bullying, I don’t care what your opinion of trans children is).
- I am trans, but I wasn’t out as trans as a teacher. I did, however, use Mx. instead of Ms. and that decision led to a huge blowup on its own. Parents demanded their kids be moved to a different class. I was also asked to do things by the administration that they wouldn’t ask other teachers to do, like write letters home to parents justifying my existence in the school. It was inappropriate. And it was all over a simple letter swap. I was even still using she/her pronouns at the time! It hurt. I’m human. I deserved to be treated better. How do I know that my children wouldn’t be treated similarly simply because I am their parent? I don’t pass. I don’t think I ever will. All it would take is one parent questioning me dropping my kids off at school. I can’t imagine that the children of a trans parent would be treated much better by parents than the trans kid was. I won’t let that happen to my kids.
- My partner and I are both neurodiverse. Our children probably are as well (Dragon is in the process of being diagnosed with autism right now). Neurodiverse students often struggle quite a bit in brick and mortar schools. I did. I made friends with kids who weren’t good friends to me. I got in trouble for things that I couldn’t help but do. I got good grades, but I wasn’t offered help when I was struggling, and I struggled to ask for help. My partner did too. A teacher of his encouraged his whole class to bully him for “being weird” and openly insisted that there was something wrong with my partner. He was bullied for years after because of this one teacher. In my time in the classroom, I saw how neurodiverse kids are isolated by their peers, and often schools do nothing to try to integrate them into the rest of the school/class. Dragon already struggles socially. With homeschooling, I can focus a lot more attention on giving her the skills she needs to make good friends and build her own social circle. If she were in school, I couldn’t rely on the teacher to help her, and I wouldn’t be able to see what’s actually happening. I can’t help her build skills when I don’t know what skills she needs to build.
- In schools, there is a lot of times when kids are expected to sit quietly and listen for long periods of time. The school I taught at had a lot of assemblies. Sitting quietly near other people isn’t socializing, and school isn’t built in such a way where teachers can reasonably allow much socializing. At most, socialization happens at recess, lunch, and the few moments here and there where teachers can/do allow group world or sharing of ideas. I can offer my children far more social opportunities by not having them in school, because I can build their education around those opportunities (this is easy to do with 2 kids, but impossible with 30).
I can go on writing about all the ways a homeschooler can socialize and all the ways public/private schoolers can’t, but I won’t because that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is merely to say that socialization really isn’t as big of an issue and many people make it out to be, and if you really want to argue against homeschooling don’t do it in bad faith. Do your research, and listen to the people who know what they’re talking about.