Is Socialization REALLY a Homeschool Issue?

Is Socialization REALLY a Homeschool issue? www.followinginhisfootsteps.wordpress.com #homeschool #homeschoolsocialization

Let me put on my English Professor hat for a moment. No, I am not a professor of any sort, but my family may lovingly call me that due to my obsession with words and using them correctly!

The root word of socialization is social, which means of or relating to people or society in general.

To socialize means to associate or mingle sociably with others.

So socialization basically means the act of associating or mingling with, or relating to, people or society in general.

Now that we all understand, let’s move on. “Professor” hat is coming off, and “Homeschool Mommy” hat is on!

Is socialization really a homeschool issue? 

I think the answer to that question depends on two things:

  1. To whom are you speaking
  2. What is the family’s situation?

For most homeschooling families today, I personally believe that ‘socialization’ is a non-issue. There are so many activities, classes, church meetings, field trip, co-ops, clubs, and service projects available specifically for homeschoolers, not to mention all of the other classes, sports teams, plays, and more available to everyone in any community, that it actually takes a concerted effort to stay home several days each week!

I am still surprised, even after 7 years of homeschooling, at how many times I am asked, or when I hear others say they are still asked, the big question, “What about socialization?”

I have my own ideas about why various people ask this question, but I feel that the main reason is because folks don’t know much about homeschooling and homeschoolers, and they just don’t really think outside the box enough before asking the question. I also think that it could be a common question that new homeschoolers ask themselves, and that is completely normal! Homeschooling is a huge leap of faith and involves much seeking to find answers about curriculum, methods, activities, legalities, etc.

What about those for whom socialization is an issue for their homeschooled children?

  • There are some families for which socialization, or lack thereof, could be an issue. My family has moved several times over the years, so we have made a concerted effort, each time upon moving, to get involved with others right away. Otherwise, we do not feel connected to the area and tend to stay home all the time. This does not help us to feel like we are in community, and though we do socialize with one another, it will likely not go beyond our family without effort on our part.
  • Sometimes families live far away from cities and other groups of homeschoolers. They may need to seek out opportunities to socialize with others, as well.
  • There are also families which include children or adults who suffer from social anxiety or a special needs diagnosis which inhibits them socially. Our family includes more than one such child. I was an anxious child and needed to practice making a phone call for at least half an hour before placing the call, and still ended the call shaking like a leaf. Sometimes I made the call only to hang up once someone answered. And this was when I was 16 years old! I can also remember requesting, as a child, that my mom stop by Dairy Queen on the way home one evening to get me a burger. She pulled in, put the car in park, and waited. When I found out that she expected me to get out and order at the walkup window, alone, I refused. I let her drive away without ordering a thing! I attended public school and never received any kind of special needs diagnosis, yet I struggled to socialize with others, not because I did not want to, but because I could not bring myself to do it on many occasions.

What can I do to help my child learn to be sociable?

I believe socialization can be an issue in any family. It is no respecter of persons, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, religion, location, or educational choice. If you or your child struggles with this issue, here are some things you can do to help:

  • offer opportunities to be around others
  • find out what your child enjoys doing and find a group with which to pursue that interest
  • meet with others in your own home to make socializing easier on your child
  • ask your child what he or she thinks would be helpful
  • work with your child, not against him or her
  • encourage your child to place his own order when dining in a restaurant
  • teach your child to answer the telephone and to make phone calls at an early age
  • seek medical counsel if you feel the need
  • recognize that your child may just need more time
  • memorize scripture, specifically those that concern fear, confidence, and worthiness
  • pray that God will show you the best way to work through the issue for your family

My comments here do not come from any degree I have earned in socialization or psychology. They only come from my heart as one who has struggled with a lack of confidence, fear, and a feeling of unworthiness for most of her life. Now, watching some of my own children work to overcome those same fears, lack of confidence, and unworthiness, I at least feel I am somewhat armed to help them. Through my experiences as a child and into adulthood, God has enabled me to walk with them through their social struggles.

I pray that He will also use this small part of my story to help some of you.

What kinds of things does your family do to socialize? Is it an effort or do you have to really try to stay home? Share in the comments!

I’ve linked up with:

The Homeschool Village

Hope you’ll head on over and check out all the others who have linked up, as well!

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About Wendy Woerner

wife, mama to five, blogger, foodie, works in social media and marketing, loves Jesus
This entry was posted in Faith, Family, Homeschooling, How to Homeschool, Inspiring Words and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Is Socialization REALLY a Homeschool Issue?

  1. monicapruett says:

    Following from IB. Great post. Pinned it. I agree with what you’ve written. Great points. 🙂 Monica
    http://www.happyandblessedhome.com

  2. brandi says:

    Great post. I suffered with terrible social anxiety for much of my life. I believe the Lord has used becoming a mother to help me really get past a lot of this anxiety. I totally related to your DQ story. I also refused to make phone calls, and when my dad finally made me get in the car to go fill out job applications at 17, I cried the entire time and was sure I would die before ever getting the courage to apply for a job, much less actually get one. I could go on and on with stories where I just felt that people were looking at me and I would break down sobbing and shaking. No one understood until I started dating the man who is now my husband. He didn’t know how I felt, but he let me go through it and didn’t get annoyed or embarrassed. When I think of how different I am now, it really is a miracle. To God be the glory! I now have two beautiful young children who are LOUD, I mean they make your ears ring LOUD! I have gotten used to people looking at us and it doesn’t bother me anymore. It was nice to read your post and see that I’m not the only one who suffered with this problem. I plan to homeschool my two girls and my parents seem to have their doubts, particularly because my mom is a public school teacher who has only seen homeschool students who end up in public school and are behind. Of course socialization is a big issue, because my parents know how I was and that I am still naturally very introverted and sometimes shy. My 4 year old is the exact opposite, she loves to be around people as much as possible, so I have worried that I am harming her in some way by not sending her to school with all the other kids. She does have opportunities to socialize however, at church, gymnastics, and the park. I also plan to join a co-op when we start kindergarten, and I try to host gatherings of our friends from church often so that she has plenty of chances to play and make friends. Still, I do get nervous now and then. However, I know that homeschooling is the right choice for us and God will take care of all of it 🙂 Sorry to write a book; I just wanted to share with someone who seems like she would understand.

    • I marvel often at how far I have come! Not because of me but because of the work God has done in me. I am amazed, because only I know the true miracle. Well, and God, of course. 🙂 I still struggle at times, but I am so much more capable now than I was before, and though it pains me to see any of my children struggle with the same issue, I know that God will help them, too. And I am thankful to get to be a part of that! Thanks for stopping in, Brandi.

  3. Crystal McClean says:

    Awesome post with great info. I still ‘procrastinate’ about making phone calls! It really takes a lot of effort to be ‘social’ but it doesn’t mean my children suffer even though they are both very shy. We go out and about the village and eventually now have become comfortable enough in the library and green grocers that they will chat, but it’s taken 5 years to get to this point. I won’t throw them in a group situation until they are ready to do it, but they are still learning socialisation skills each day.

    • You’re right, it definitely just takes time. And it also can be different for each person, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. My children learn social skills within the family and then have a chance to practice them as we are out and about. Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the post and took time to comment!

  4. Maggie says:

    Lovely post. Thank you! I grow weary in some social gatherings when asked this in regard to our HS’d elementary ‘only’. Of course, when I am patiently answering this question he is usually engaged across the room in conversation with either a) other children, or b) other adults. There’s their answer! He is outgoing without a doubt, perhaps the reason so many invitations come our way for playdates and other outside activities (in addition to those in which we already partake) from home, public, and parochial schooled families!:) He’s simply a polite, considerate, happy little guy.

    • Isn’t that ironic? I think sometimes people just parrot what they have heard others ask. My children are very well socialized, even the shy ones. And we also get many nice comments about their behavior. It feels good, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be home with them and watch them grow and learn. So glad you stopped by, Maggie!

  5. sarah says:

    We are in the second year of homeschooling our oldest. Socialization is an issue for us. We live pretty far out in the country, its 45 min to town, winters are rough, and the snow lasts from this time of year till late spring. I am not comfortable driving on icy roads, which is basically half our school year. We haven’t found a church that fits. Our daughter is a social butterfly, she really thrives on social interaction. I feel guilty that she doesnt have as many opportunities as i would like for her to make friends. It is the only reason I occasionally consider sending her to school. She is in first grade now, so I am hoping to figure out the socializing issue, so I don’t feel like were hurting her. I was also painfully shy, so I completely understand how you feel. I still hate to make phone calls,

    • We live further north now, and spent some time in New york too, so I also do not drive even under the threat of ice or snow! (scaredy-cat here) It is more work to find events and make friends when you don’t have a neighborhood or live near a good friend. Personally, I don’t think you’re hurting her. Do you attend church? Going to the grocery store, the library, on a field trip can all also be considered a social event. While it is important to find and make friends, and to know how to get along in society, I don’t think there is anything wrong either with learning, and teaching our children, that sometimes we need a period of aloneness. When we moved to NY we had that. It was tough! But it was also good for us in many ways because we only had one another and God to rely on for everything! I found, during that period, that I had been relying on my friends in FL much more than I was actually relying on God. :/ Anyway, not saying that part has anything to do with you. Just offering the only kind of encouragement I can, which is my own life experiences! Thanks so much for commenting, Sarah!

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