What About Socialization?

Kids Playing in a Group
Artem Kniaz, Unsplash

It’s refreshing to see the increased interest in homeschooling. It is a great time for parents to trust their ability to ensure their children learn not only the academic content required by the state, but the moral, spiritual, social, and ethical standards that best suit their families. Homeschooling removes children from environments where parents have limited control and allows them to teach their children in an environment that they select and supervise. Given the conditions of many campuses and classrooms in our public schools, this can be a positive move for many families.

I receive many requests for assistance with starting small schools and homeschooling through email and social media. I love helping parents by answering their questions about the reality of them successfully homeschooling. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, but it is entirely doable. The question I get more than any other is “What about socialization?” Of all the reasons for homeschooling, I find it peculiar that the common inquiry is not about academics, but socialization. 

Homeschoolers are not locked away in caves like some people seem to think. They likely live in the same neighborhoods as their public schooled peers, have friends at church, have relatives to connect with, play sports, join scouts, and have opportunities to connect socially with other homeschool families. Why is socialization in the school setting the gold standard of socialization? 

Parents have shared with me that they often don’t know how to respond to well-meaning but intrusive, even annoying friends and relatives who inquire about their children’s socialization. I hope my typical responses to them are effective at answering the concern for those who feel they must ask. A few responses I have suggested are:

“What specifically are you concerned about?” Many people with socialization “concerns” don’t have a response to this.

“What has your research on socialization revealed?” Most people who ask about socialization have not researched it. Ask them to research it then present the question again. Most won’t. Problem solved.

“Yeah…I’ve seen the campus and classroom environment. My standards for my kids are much higher than that.” If the inquirer has a child in school, he/she knows what you are talking about.

“Their friends live in the neighborhood. They can see them anytime.” Your children may not attend the same school as their friends, but who said they can’t spend time together?

“Hmmm. Teachers are quick to remind students they don’t come to school to socialize, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Ideally, no parent should feel they have to explain why they choose to homeschool their children. Unfortunately, family dynamics sometimes call for a response. A well-researched, thoughtful response can be offered to satisfy inquirers who are genuinely concerned about socialization while homeschooling. Most importantly, homeschool parents can proceed knowing socialization does not have to be a concern for their children.

Dr. Teresa Sanders
Dr. Sanders is an international bestselling author, education researcher and student and family advocate in the education setting. Dr. Sanders has presented at international education conferences and is the founder of Safari Small Schools, an innovative micro school in Canton, Texas. Dr. Sanders created Safari Small Schools to meet the needs of learners who aren’t thriving in the traditional classroom. Dr. Sanders can be reached at DrSanders@safarismallschools.com.