Every parent who makes a decision to home school can be assured that they are going to hear the dreaded "S" word. "What about socialization?" Often that's the extent of the question. Sometimes there is elaboration. It seems to me that there are 3 basic implications in the question.
Before dealing with these assumptions, let's first consider one important question: "What is socialization?" I looked it up in my The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary. 'Socialization' is the noun form of the verb 'socialize.'
Let's consider the answers to the implications of the socialization question for each of these definitions separately.
Clearly there is positive socialization and negative socialization. Yes, children do need positive socialization. They do not need negative socialization.
Let's examine what would be classified as "Positive Socialization." Let us also consider whether these traits are more likely to be instilled in a government school environment or in a home school environment.
Now, let's examine what would be classified as "Negative Socialization." Let us also consider whether these traits are more likely to be instilled in a government school environment or in a home school environment.
Government school provides virtually nothing of positive value to the socialization of children. What little it does provide is more than outweighed by the negatives that come with it. Home education is a far superior method for developing a mature, responsible, law abiding adult.
Yes, some children do go to government school and come out as fine young adults. But that is IN SPITE OF the government school socialization, not BECAUSE OF it.
Now let's consider some other specific objections to home schooling that are related to the socialization question.
Objection - Your child won't know how to interact with people of different backgrounds.
Answer - Very few home schoolers teach their children in a vacuum. Most attend church, play in little league or do other things that bring them into contact with people from other economic, social or racial backgrounds. They encounter those people in varied situations. They encounter people of more diverse backgrounds since they are not spending all day in an age segregated environment.
Additionally, they may even be more likely to develop friendships with people of different backgrounds since they won't need to deal with the peer pressure to conform to the behaviour of "their" group.
Objection - Your children will be sheltered.
Answer - Children are supposed to be sheltered. That is the whole purpose behind parenting. If a toddler tries to put his hand on the burner on the stove, we stop him. That is not "sheltering." It is protecting the child. When children are protected from the negative influences so prevalent in the government schools, they will grow up more emotionally healthy. They will grow up more firmly established in the values of their parents. That way, when they do need to make value decisions later in life, they will have a firmer base on which to make their decisions. When banks train tellers to recognize counterfeit money, they do not show them counterfeit money. They make them very familiar with real money. Then, when they see counterfeit money, they will know it is not real. Likewise, if children are immersed in positive values they will be more able to recognize negative values later.
Also, from what are they being sheltered? Gang violence. Drugs. Bullies. The latest educational fads. Ungodly philosophies. Immoral sex education. They are not ready to be exposed to those things and therefore they shouldn't be. We don't ridicule a florist for keeping a young, tender plant in a green house to shelter it from things it can not handle. Why should parents be ridiculed for shelter young, tender children?
Objection - Your children won't know how to deal with the real world.
Answer - I have never been in a situation, outside of government school, where everyone in the group is the same age and is forced to do the same things. I have always been in groups of people of various ages. Age segregation is not the "real world." In the "real world," people who can excel are not held back until the people who are slower catch up. That is how things are done in government schools.
Objection - Your children will grow to be too dependent on you.
Answer - A little more dependence is a healthy thing. We see too many children who are disrespectful of parents and all authority. As they get older they care less about their parents and families. Close knit families and consideration for others are things that are necessary for a strong, stable society. Everyone needs something or someone to depend on. Better that the child depend on his parents and the values that will be passed down in such a relationship than depend on the government and its values.
Objection - Your child will be lonely or not have any friends.
Answer - It is true that home school parents might have to go to a little more effort to give their children opportunities to meet other children. But it is also true that with the government schools not being a factor, the parent is better able to monitor the kinds of friendships that their children develop. Since home schoolers tend to be active in church, clubs, etc. their children are not likely to lack for contact with their peers. Many homeschoolers are active in home school support groups. Those groups provide further social activities.
Objection - The child will be socially stigmatised.
Answer - Differences are usually criticized out of ignorance or jealousy. To combat this, simply help the child to realize that what is being done is good for her.
Objection - The child will not be able to interact when swapping stories about school once he has grown.
Answer - This is not true at all. The home schooled child will have his own stories to share. There are many other home schooled children so there will be many other children with similar experiences. Further, in my experience, such swapping of stories in society is rare. Typically, the stories swapped are negative in nature.
Objection - Your kids are socially younger than their government school peers and this is due to the fact that they aren't in government schools.
Answer - Home school children will not be forced to act more mature than they really are to try to protect themselves from being mocked. They are permitted to enjoy their childhood by not being exposed to things that rob them of their youth and innocence. They will not be forced to become prematurely independent. Independence will come after they have developed the moral and emotional maturity to handle it.
My experience shows me that home schooled children tend to be more respectful, more self-confident, more mature and more capable than government school children.
Objection - The kids won't be able to learn how to fail or succeed in front of other people.
Answer - They will fail or succeed in front of their teacher just like government school children do. They will fail and succeed in front of their friends, siblings and family members. In home school, however, the failures are not going to be ridiculed by others, causing the children to become less likely to take risks.
Also, most people do not home school in a vacuum. Home school children typically participate in church activities, little league, etc.
Copyright 1997 - Fred Worth - Permission is hereby granted to reproduce or distribute this material as long as it is unedited and provided free of charge.
Muslim Home Education Network Australia ( MHENA ) is a united group of Muslim Homeschooling mothers, with experience in all of the learning stages up to stage 5, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Read More