My 13yo son has never ever been to school. He does have some social problems -- but it's because he has Asperger's! And he would have had Asperger's if he'd gone to school and would have had social problems there as well. The vast majority of kids with Asperger's, which is defined primarily as a social skills disorder, go to school, and it doesn't "fix" them heh.
I have an acquaintance who is a PhD student in psychology, specializing in autism/child development/etc. In chats with my husband, she has come out very anti-homeschooling, saying that all the homeschoolers she has seen in her practice have social (or other psychological) problems. I just want to say to her... well DUH. You're seeing the ones who have sought out psychological help. If you're saying that their problems are somehow caused by homeschooling, are you also saying that all the public school kids you see (the vast majority) have problems caused by the public schools?
The fact is that some kids will have social difficulties, period. No matter what you do with them.
I was in public school my whole life. I was morbidly shy. MORBIDLY. No friends, outcast, "the weird kid", relentlessly teased, and usually missed what was "going on" in the social world. It didn't start to relieve until at least junior high. And it had nothing to do with going to school -- it had to do with finally making some true friends, and those friendships -- while certainly developed within the school walls as well, when we'd see each other at lunch or band practice -- were truly formed in EXTRACURRICULAR activities.
All you have to do is look at schools. Is every single child in there "normal"? No. There are weird kids, geeks, freaks, losers, rebels, outcasts, bad kids, all those kinds of perjoratives you can think of. They're all there, and none of them were FIXED by going to school.
If your homeschooled kid is "weird", maybe they would have been weird anyway. Or maybe they would have been folded into the crowd, got the 'right clothes' and the 'right hair' and the 'right attitude' to fit in and lost their individuality and their passions.
Sometimes the "weird kid" is seen as "weird" simply because they're acting more maturely than we've come to expect a child of that age to behave. She's interested in things other than boys and nail polish and Lady Gaga and the latest gossip. Or he's actually interested in his school subjects and not just putting up with it until PE. Aren't these the kinds of behaviors we WANT our kids to have? And yet when kids actually display them, we call them "weird" and think they should try harder to 'fit in' with the crowd.
Honestly, I'm not interested in having my kids get into the kind of social life that happens in schools today. Did you know most kids have 'boyfriends' and 'girlfriends' by the time they're 10 years old now? I'm. Not. Kidding. The cliques, the cattiness, the ridicule and bullying of anyone who is different... The 'peer pressure' is not so much about drugs and sex and alcohol, it's about giving up your individuality in order to be like everyone else. There literally are cliques based on having exactly the right clothes.
Learning social skills through public school is the blind leading the blind. Leaving children to figure out social behaviours from each other rather than from adults. Ever read Lord of the Flies? It's not that far off from reality!!!
Here's a great book -- Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. It is NOT a homeschooling book. Homeschooling is barely mentioned, just a quick aside as what "some parents" choose to do when faced with the social problems of schools. What it is about is how the forced separation of children from adults (whether their parents or another consistent, attached caregiver) breaks their natural "adult orientation" -- kids are hard-wired from birth to look to adults for approval and modelling. That's how they learn. That's how they're wired to learn EVERYTHING. But we break that and force them to be peer oriented. So they look to their peers not just for friendship, but for modelling of how to live life, and also for APPROVAL. Kids start out wanting to please their parents, and end up dismissing their parents and considering pleasing their peers MORE important.
The book is not intended to scare families out of public school, instead it gives information on how to address the issues so that your own child's orientation stays healthy *despite* public school. So nobody could read it and call it a biased homeschooling fear-based diatribe or anything. ;) But there's no doubt that for those with homeschooling in mind, it's a great validation of (one of the reasons) why we do what we do. :)
Also, it's worth remembering the difference between "socialization" and "socializing". My son does lots of socializing... he has friends from his gymnastics team, his school band (the middle school lets him play in their bands), the community youth orchestra, his church youth group, his cousins and his neighbours. But he has difficulty with certain aspects of socialization. (He's learning, though, and without the constant pressure that a school situation would cause). Usually when folks ask about socialization and homeschooling, they're thinking about 'playing with other kids' but they really mean "the ability to play with other kids". The fact is, though, that children learn social skills from ADULTS, not from other kids -- because the other kids are only still learning social skills themselves anyway!!! And socializing -- just being with other people -- is easy. Unless you live in a bubble, you will meet people and make friends, and you don't even have to go to great extremes to find social outlets for your kids. Just sign them up for stuff they're interested in -- because they're interested in it, not "in order to socialize" heh -- and if potential friends are there, then friendships will be made.
Finally, to quote from The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List:
2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.