Since anyone who homeschools will inevitably be approached with the, "but how do they socialize?" question, I figured I would go ahead and do a blog on it. BTW I realize that some of this is may be blanket statements regarding the non-homeschooling family. There are always exceptions to the rules :)
So the myth:Homeschoolers can not be properly socialized because they do not spend the majority of their time with peers.
Well to answer this question first we need to talk about my view on what is "proper" socialization. From the point of view I posted above proper socialization refers to a child being able to interact, adopt the behavior of the culture, and participate in group activities with their peer group. However, socialization is more than this to the homeschooling family. We view socialization as the ability to interact with all age groups;adults, peers, and younger children. Real world situations do not place us only with our own age level. When you take a job your co-workers represent a broad range of ages, and this applies to most life situations. It is therefore important that children learn to socialize across a broad spectrum of ages, social background, ethnicity and so on.
So now that we have the definition on the table on to the next question. How? How do you socialize a homeschooler. Well, most homeschoolers are involved in a variety of activities ranging from co-ops to sports. Ther are 4-H clubs, debate clubs, book clubs, art clubs, and many more clubs and organizations to participate in. Sports, even sports through the public school system, are often available for homeschoolers. Mine currently participate in ballet, karate, and gymnastics. We also attend a Mother's Day Out program, where my kids socialize with their peers. This has already shown its advantages to public school socilization. My DDs rarely hit, have never said a swear word that was heard at school, and both can carry on a conversation(age level appropriate) with an adult just as easily as they do with a child their own age. They are respectful, accepting and have no labels for other children who are different from themselves.Now, I know to some degree this has to do with them both being at an age of innocence, but I believe that for the most part homeschooling will go along way towards fostering skills for interacting with all spectrums of society.
The final question I will address: "what about when they get into the real world and people are not so nice? How will they be able to deal with that without gaining the experiences from public school?". This actually makes me cringe. The logic behind it is foreign to me. Why would I purposely expose my children to bullying and intolerance in the name of making them tougher? My job as a parent is to protect them. I am not saying I want to keep them sheltered, but I do want to control how, when and where they are exposed to such injustices. I want to be the one to teach them how to deal with things with grace and intelligence, rather than irrationality and impulse. Further more, I have no desire to have my children exposed to sex as taught by a teenage peer. Why would I leave such important information to anyone other than myself?
I personally believe that socilization, as with any other life skill, should be guided by the parents.
As a disclaimer, I don't think public school is evil. I think that as a parent I have a right to choose how I school my child, just as you do. I have chosen to homeschool my child and know that this is the best choice for us. May God guide you in making the right choice for your family, whether it be public, private or home education.