I went into public schooling with a lot of ambivilance, but so far I'm very impressed. Yes, there are things I don't like about it (some of the discipline methods, some rote work, etc.) but overall it has been very positive. The social aspect is huge. It isn't at all that I don't think my son would be properly 'socialized' without school, but rather (as others have mentioned) that it would be almost impossible for me to introduce my son to as many kids, and as many different kinds of kids, as he has gotten to know in school.
For example, there are 3 Hmong children in his class, and through them, he has learned about Hmong New Year, and has learned a few words in Hmong, and about Hmong handicrafts. One of the children lives 3 doors down from us and has for the past 4 years, and we've tried to get to know them in the past and set up playdates, but it didn't work until they were in class together. That's just one example - there are 450 kids in K - 2nd grade at his school, and that is way more potential friends/interesting experiences than I could personally give him, even in an area with a fair number of homeschooling groups.
Beyond that, he is learning to work with adults who have different leadership styles that his dad or I, and learning about subjects that we aren't interested in or knowledgable about. I know I could do very well teaching him writing and reading/literature, and the foreign language that I happen to speak (which, incidentally is NOT the language he wants to learn - of course!
) - other subjects would be a struggle for me. Phy Ed for one - so not my area, and even though I had him in several preschool activities (gymnastics, swimming, tiny-tot football, etc.) he has improved by leaps and bounds since starting school.
And just changing teachers can have a real benefit. I've noticed this with one of my sons - he loved his teachers and was doing well at school, but when a new teacher was brought in, all of a sudden he was doing phenomenally. I don't think she was a better teacher, but the novelty of someone new who had a different background and was presenting material in a slightly different way gave him a boost for awhile. I suppose there would be ways of simulating this in a homeschooling environment, but it happens by default in most schools (with children switching teachers for different subjects and different grade levels).
Also (and I do realize that a lot of people choose to homeschool for this very reason) school will, as he goes on, expose him to ideas that challenge our cultural assumptions and even core beliefs. I personally think this is a good thing. I like to think I'm right about everything
, but I know that isn't true. I want my kids to be able to challenge my beliefs and help me grow, too.