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Socialization and homeschooling: please tell me how silly I'm being

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I know this is going to come across as totally ignorant, but I'm hoping it doesn't come across as offensive. I have a 4.5 year old, and can't believe I'm saying this but I'm considering homeschooling him. Preschool has been challenging thus far, and I just have this feeling things may not get easier. DS is extremely sensitive, high needs, spirited, and quirky. I really hate the idea of sending him to school next year and having him in a classroom 35 hours a week followed by HOMEWORK at night. What a waste of time. I loved the social aspect of school and the academic part came easily. But, I hated learning the vast majority of what I learned in school. Hated it. Was bored out of my mind 98% of the time. I don't know that I want my kids wasting the majority of their week being bored out of their minds either. DS is picking up all sorts of things on his own. He's excited about learning. He's decidedly not excited about separating from me to go to school.

Anyhow, all this to say, I'm really strongly considering HSing but I have one gigantic hesitation which is the social piece. I'm sorry to say that I can think of only a small handful of people I know who were homeschooled and they were all very....different. Very sheltered, extremely socially awkward, had a hard time fitting in, lacked confidence etc. I truly do not mean to be offensive, and I'm hoping you can all set me straight and tell me how ridiculous this stereotype is and back that up. Because it is my number one hesitation. All the families I knew were very religious (which I am religious myself but not in the same way as it worked for these families) and it seemed maybe like they were trying to completely shut the outside world out. I dont know. What I do know is that these kids struggled socially into their adult years and I don't want that for my kids. If they're going to end up like the families I know, I'd rather have them bored in school wasting time, because I think these kids were really unhappy too. I'm assuming thy had social outlets of some sort through homeschool groups or church but maybe it wasnt enough?

So set me straight, y'all. Tell me I can raise kids who are not socially inept without putting them in school. Tell me I can meet my extremely extroverted kid's social needs without putting him in school. Tell me there are other normal, social, parents like me out there who we can hang out with. This has to be the case, right?
post #2 of 37

My child is 10 and unschooled and she is somewhat socially awkward. No adult would ever say so, because she is hilarious and sarcastic and gets along well with adults and understand politics and really advanced social concepts like abortion rights and transgender issues, but I can see that she struggles to make new childhood friends.  When she has close friends she is fine, but she definitely struggles to make new friends and doesn't try really hard to do so.

 

I feel like the Sudbury school she previously went to had something to do with this though, because all the kids there had serious social issues from awkwardness to bullying and it was this close knit community of jerks in a lot of ways.  She got bullied and felt really burned and when we go to unschool groups and she sees unkempt, snotty kids, it hearkens back to Sudbury school for her.  And I'd be lying if I said that most of the unschooled kids I've come across around here aren't snotty.

 

But yeah, I mean, some kids are socially awkward and some kids aren't and that's true for homeschooled kids and traditionally schooled kids.  I think the problem is when kids get isolated and forget how to relate to other kids.  Which classes and camps and sports and HS playgroups can really help with, imo.  One of my best grown up friends was homeschooled and she is still pretty young, in her early 20s, and she is not socially awkward at all, and neither are her 7 siblings, who were also homeschooled.  They're all really outgoing and charming and basically the most lovable family ever.

post #3 of 37

You can, indeed! I have an "awkward, shy" home schooled kid and an "extroverted, sweet" home schooled kid. They were that way before we started honestly. It's more in the kids' personalities than in the academic setting in my experience. They sometimes learn to blend in more if they attend school, but I don't think it changes who they fundamentally are. 

 

Oh, and if the same religious-and-awkward homeschoolers you knew were private-religious-schooled instead I think it would likely have had the same awkward results. It's isolation to a single world view IMO that causes that type of problem, which can happen in alternative schools, small privates, and home schools.

post #4 of 37

My kiddo is homeschooled. He just turned 12.  We didn't do alot of planned social activities until he was about 10.  The first few years we really just hung out at the park and the library, went to tons of museums and the zoo.  He took some classes at those types of places and he thrived.  We also did Saturday AM art classes at Michaels (not sure if the program is still around)

When he turned 10 or so, he started a theater class 1 day a week and swim classes.  These things quickly turned into a love of theater and art as well as a competitive swim team.

 

My kid is never going to be a social butterfly but he is comfortable in classes that he chooses.  He loves his swim coach and the theater teacher.

 

My kid also takes online classes and is involved with the online chat rooms from that program.  He feels more comfortable in the online environment at times and I'm ok with that.

 

Honestly, being homeschooled has allowed my kiddo to be independent, self sufficient, and over the years work grade levels above his peers.

 

I wouldn't change our decision for anything.

post #5 of 37
There are plenty of ways to socialize homeschooled kids. In my area they can take classes or join sports teams through regular public school whenever there's room. Plus there are all kinds of community classes, events, sports, etc.

Another option, however, is private school. You may want to look into the options available in your area. If you work then it might make more sense to go the private school route than quit your job and homeschool. Or not. Depends.
post #6 of 37
Yes, I do know homeschooled kids who are socially awkward. I also know a lot of public- & private- schooled kids who are socially awkward.

Around here at least, there are 'normal' homeschooled kids... if anything I'd say their social skills are better than traditionally-schooled kids, perhaps due to the multi-age socialization homeschooled kids tend to get? They know how to act with same-age peers but also with toddlers and adults.

I do think you need to make an effort to provide social opportunities. If your homeschooling plan means sitting at home studying 10 hours a day, obviously you will be more likely to end up with an awkward, sheltered kid. From what I've heard from friends (DS is only 3 so not there yet!), you really can fit homeschooling lessons into a small fraction of the day -- sometimes just a couple of hours a day. That leaves tons of time for socializing with other homeschooled kids and with neighborhood kids when they get home from school, plus sports/lessons/etc.

I also want to point out that some of the awkwardness that you see in homeschooled kids may be kind of... innate & inevitable, to some extent? I have a quirky kid. I doubt there is much I could do -- at home or in public school -- that would 'cure' him of his social awkwardness. In many ways, that's just who he is, and I could see someone 15 years down the line pointing a finger at me, "See, you shouldn't have homeschooled him, he's so awkward," but really, that's just part of who he is, as well as part of the reason I want/need to homeschool him in the first place.

And on a similar note... many families drawn to homeschooling are either very religious or very crunchy (or, like me, very much both!!) Those things kind of make our family weird to begin with. We'd be just as weird if I sent DS to school -- so I guess I'm saying, the weirdness isn't always caused by homeschooling itself, but by attitudes and lifestyles that just so happen to coincide with a desire to homeschool.
post #7 of 37

I went to school and I was extremely socially awkward, had a hard time fitting in, and lacked confidence.  My DD, who has always been homeschooled, is much better at getting along with other kids than I was.  She likes everyone, and other kids seem to like her.  My younger kid has a harder time making friends, but he's just 6 so it's hard to say how he's going to turn out in the long run. He went to preschool for a year, and it didn't seem to help him become more socially confident.  The homeschooled kids we know don't seem particularly awkward.  They get along well with each other at homeschool gatherings, and most of them strike me as the kind of kids who would get along well with others in a school situation too.  Some of them are really confident and others are shyer - just like kids at school.  Some of them, including mine, are sheltered, perhaps, in a certain way.  They're mostly not from religious families (religious homeschoolers seem rare in my area), but a lot of them don't watch TV or play video games or know as much about popular culture as the typical schooled kid probably does.  But your kids don't have to be like that if you don't want them to be.  You can let them watch all the TV they want and buy them all the popular toys and clothes if you think that will help them fit in.

 

If you homeschool, your kid will have plenty of chances to socialize.  He can get together with other homeschoolers - there are probably homeschooling groups in your area.  He can take after-school classes, do sports, or go to camp with other kids, many of whom won't be homeschooled.  He can play with other kids in your neighborhood.  In my state, homeschooled kids can take classes and do activities at their local public schools.  If you have that option where you are, your kid could take art or music or PE at school.

post #8 of 37

I truly believe it is a personality thing that has nothing at all to do with homeschooling. I went to public and private schools and have always been very socially awkward, I just don't quite know what I should be doing in social situations. Of my two hs'ed kiddos I have one who is extremely social, and the other could care less as her brother is her best friend and that's good enough for her.

 

Look up homechool groups in your area, see if any places have classes specifically for homeschoolers.

post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

I truly believe it is a personality thing that has nothing at all to do with homeschooling. 

 

I agree, except that sometimes families choose homeschooling in part because they can see that their child's less-than-socially-adept hard-wiring will make school a poor-fitting environment. In other words, many kids are homeschooled because they're social misfits, rather than being social misfits because they're homeschooled.

 

My eldest is now, as an older teen, accruing the social smarts and confidence she needs to function easily in the world, attract and maintain lots of healthy friendships and so on. As a 5-year-old, she had a lot of social anxiety and tended to shut down in large-group situations. We chose to homeschool in large part because she found group social environments so difficult to cope with.

 

Because we loved homeschooling so much and found it such a vibrant and responsive approach to education, even her highly socially adept youngest sister is homeschooled. She's the outgoing 9-year-old piece of sweetness and light who friends with almost everyone in our community, child, teen or adult alike, and she definitely flies in the face of stereotypes about awkward, sheltered homeschooled kids. But our introduction to homeschooling came because of a child of the social misfit type.

 

Miranda

post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

I know this is going to come across as totally ignorant, but I'm hoping it doesn't come across as offensive. I have a 4.5 year old, and can't believe I'm saying this but I'm considering homeschooling him. Preschool has been challenging thus far, and I just have this feeling things may not get easier. DS is extremely sensitive, high needs, spirited, and quirky. I really hate the idea of sending him to school next year and having him in a classroom 35 hours a week followed by HOMEWORK at night. What a waste of time. I loved the social aspect of school and the academic part came easily. But, I hated learning the vast majority of what I learned in school. Hated it. Was bored out of my mind 98% of the time. I don't know that I want my kids wasting the majority of their week being bored out of their minds either. DS is picking up all sorts of things on his own. He's excited about learning. He's decidedly not excited about separating from me to go to school.
Anyhow, all this to say, I'm really strongly considering HSing but I have one gigantic hesitation which is the social piece. I'm sorry to say that I can think of only a small handful of people I know who were homeschooled and they were all very....different. Very sheltered, extremely socially awkward, had a hard time fitting in, lacked confidence etc. I truly do not mean to be offensive, and I'm hoping you can all set me straight and tell me how ridiculous this stereotype is and back that up. Because it is my number one hesitation. All the families I knew were very religious (which I am religious myself but not in the same way as it worked for these families) and it seemed maybe like they were trying to completely shut the outside world out. I dont know. What I do know is that these kids struggled socially into their adult years and I don't want that for my kids. If they're going to end up like the families I know, I'd rather have them bored in school wasting time, because I think these kids were really unhappy too. I'm assuming thy had social outlets of some sort through homeschool groups or church but maybe it wasnt enough?
So set me straight, y'all. Tell me I can raise kids who are not socially inept without putting them in school. Tell me I can meet my extremely extroverted kid's social needs without putting him in school. Tell me there are other normal, social, parents like me out there who we can hang out with. This has to be the case, right?

 

So you have a small sample of people you know were homeschooled and they seemed different to you. You do not know why they were homeschooled. You think they were unhappy but you don't really know if they were or what caused them to be unhappy. You do not know what social outlets they actually had or what other factors may have made them struggle socially as adults. Because they were homeschooled you assume it was homeschooling that made them that way.

There are kids who go through school and come out happy and confident but there are those who don't. There are happy well adjusted homeschooled kids and there are those who aren't.

Think of all the people you know who went through a school instead of being homeschooled. Were there any who were weird, unhappy, developed strange religious views, didn't have a lot of friends, had trouble with relationships, committed a serious crime, abused drugs or alcohol, got into fights, bullied others, or attempted to harm themselves while young or later in life? Is school realistically better than homeschooling in terms of making all children social dynamos and happy people?  Do you really think you can't do as well or better?

 

I think the social aspect of your child's life will depend on a couple of factors.

First, your child's personality. Second, your personality. Third, opportunities and resources available to you.

If you live in a very isolated area with no transportation and few activities it will be much more difficult to meet the social needs of a very extroverted child. You will have to work harder to build connections than just sticking your child on a bus to school.

If you live in a city, in a neighborhood with kids, have lots of transportation options, classes, groups, friends, family, neighbors, etc you may have to make little effort to meet your child's social needs. If you are also very outgoing, it will probably be even easier for you to join groups, start groups or approach people you meet while you are out and about.

 

Everyone here can tell you they are normal people and their kids are doing well but it won't mean anything because we aren't in your situation or your area. You have to decide if you can meet your child's social needs where you are. Look at your area and the options you have there. Think about the effort you are willing to put into this aspect of life.

 

There are a lot of homeschoolers and not all of us are religious isolationists.

http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/weblinks/numbers.htm#.UEpXLSL27w4

http://www.zeemaps.com/230148

 

You don't have to only socialize with homeschool families or people your child's own age either.

post #11 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

 From what I've heard from friends (DS is only 3 so not there yet!), you really can fit homeschooling lessons into a small fraction of the day -- sometimes just a couple of hours a day. That leaves tons of time for socializing with other homeschooled kids and with neighborhood kids when they get home from school, plus sports/lessons/etc.
 

And for younger kids, you can get by with no lessons at all, though it's good to dedicate yourself and your undivided attention for being available for what your kid wants to do for a part of the day.  The great thing about that is that this can be done anywhere and everywhere.  The world is your school as well as your home.  Take as much advantage of it as your heart--and his-- desires

post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

So set me straight, y'all. Tell me I can raise kids who are not socially inept without putting them in school. Tell me I can meet my extremely extroverted kid's social needs without putting him in school. Tell me there are other normal, social, parents like me out there who we can hang out with. This has to be the case, right?

I am here to set you straight!  biggrinbounce.gif

 

My oldest is one of the most extroverted kids I know.  She is in 7th grade and has been learning at home since mid 3rd when the boredom outweighed the benefits of going to school.  Since then, I would have to say, she has flourished socially!  That first six months taught her the difference between playground friends and real friends.  She has been active in girl scouts (not a one-school troop), youth group, various sports teams, local theater, and dancing.  Currently dancing is her passion.  She is one of the only dancers on her team that seem capable of communicating/respecting/getting along with/etc. with ALL ages.  She is at ease with adults, older teens, younger kids, and peers.  And while I may eat my words later, puberty has been a breeze thus far compared to what I was expecting.  Actually, it has been so much easier than when she was 6.  

 

My middle (grade 4) came home mid first.  She was displaying great anxiety and had developed some social awkwardness.  Several of my well intentioned friends thought that she would surely go into a hole and never come out now that I was going to homeschool her.  After all, since I wasn't making her leave the house everyday to "socialize", she would probably become a hermit.  This is the opposite of what happened.  We knew that something was "off" with her and it turned out she was dyslexic.  She is also very sensitive and was constantly comparing herself to everyone in class.  This was hard on her.  Since homeschooling, her confidence has skyrocketed.  She also participates in girl scouts, sports, drama, and dance.  The same friend who expressed concerns about my removing her from school confessed that she never expected it to turn out so well.  She thinks that K is the most polite, respectful, outgoing, social kid she has ever known. 

 

My baby is still in PS.  She just started first grade and I think she has a good teacher.  I expect that she will decide to learn at home someday too.  If I see negative behavior or other problems, I will pull her out in a heartbeat.  Until that time, she will have a say in her educational venue.  For us, I like that the kids WANT to be at home.  It makes learning feel like a partnership vs a battle.  

 

Amy

 

ETA:  My oldest (last year) had a sudden case of "needing more friends". . . her words, not mine.  That same year a great teen/tween homeschool book group started up and it is getting BIG.  She really clicked with these girls.  Also, that is the same year that she made the dance team.  But, SHE recognized that she wanted/needed more and we looked for opportunities together.  They are out there (usually). 

post #13 of 37

A few points I want to echo...

 

First, the chicken/egg thing where you really don't know if their "issue" (no matter what it is--social awkwardness, behavior, academic level) is the reason or the result of homeschooling.

 

Second, that this seems to be a similar problem in the schools.  Homeschooled kids are usually given more freedom to just be who they are without the confines and pressures of school, but usually they DO still have the pressures of peers, siblings or even relatives to contend with.  They're not exactly off scott-free.  But I have to wonder if having less pressure allows them to work through a lot of that normal angst or awkwardness of development and if they don't work through it, to just be okay with who they are... kwim?

 

I've homeschooled in two states.  While I have seen people who homeschool for religious reasons and try to shelter their kids, I haven't seen kids sheltered to the point of not interacting with SOME community.  I honestly suspect that the strong position held by those families might have made being in a mainstream school hard for those kids anyway.  Which is worse?  Being amongst your own in a somewhat "closed" community?  Or potentially being singled out in the schools?  (might not happen, but the odds are good).

post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

I can think of only a small handful of people I know who were homeschooled and they were all very....different. Very sheltered, extremely socially awkward, had a hard time fitting in, lacked confidence etc. I truly do not mean to be offensive, and I'm hoping you can all set me straight and tell me how ridiculous this stereotype is and back that up. Because it is my number one hesitation. All the families I knew were very religious (which I am religious myself but not in the same way as it worked for these families) and it seemed maybe like they were trying to completely shut the outside world out. I dont know. What I do know is that these kids struggled socially into their adult years and I don't want that for my kids. If they're going to end up like the families I know, I'd rather have them bored in school wasting time, because I think these kids were really unhappy too. I'm assuming thy had social outlets of some sort through homeschool groups or church but maybe it wasnt enough?
So set me straight, y'all.

 

I will set you straight.  You only knew a few, religious isolationist families.  You cannot come to conclusions on homeschooling based on such as small, insular sample group. smile.gif


Edited by kathymuggle - 9/9/12 at 8:59am
post #15 of 37

See if your library has this book:

 

The Well-Adjusted Child

 

It does a great job of talking about this issue.  I read it after homeschooling for a year and I kept nodding and agreeing with sooo many things it said about the topic. :)

post #16 of 37

I would agree that there is less of a link between homeschooling and socially awkward than there is between personality.

 

I've had two daughters, 18 years apart. The first was more withdrawn and nervous, like I was, growing up. She was in public schools until 9th grade, and her social awkwardness seemed to get worse in large group settings. Like me, she prefers small groups or one on one interaction.

 

My youngest, now almost six, has been homeschooled since Kindergarten and we are now starting into 1st grade. She is incredibly outgoing and friendly. She talks to strangers in stores, admires their jewelry or shoes, and waves hello to just about everyone she sees. She is very much like her father. Being homeschooled has at times meant a little less interaction with others - but that can also be a good thing. In large groups she is often lost and has been devastated when rejected by the more clique-ish girls. She definitely wears her heart on her sleeve.

 

We are secular homeschoolers - our decision to homeschool had absolutely nothing to do with religion and everything to do with a lack of faith in the school system to provide educational opportunities that would not suppress her love of learning.

 

I write The Homeschool Advocate - which basically chronicles our own journey and our interactions with others. We actually follow more of an unschooling strategy at this time. Check it out, it might provide you with some homeschooling ideas you can use.

post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate everyone's replies. It helps to hear lots of opinions because I know no two experiences are alike. I'm really struggling with the decision.
post #18 of 37

By homeschooling, you are allowing them to be who they are.  Sweet, quirky, funny, different... I have 6 kids and they are all different from one another.  My oldest is a social butterfly and fun to be around.  She is about 10.  My second daughter (8) is very quiet and prefers to collect rocks to chasing kids around.  My 6yo son is different but he would have been anyway and would have been bullied because of it.  My 5yo daughter is just like the oldest...social butterfly.  The youngest two I don't know yet.

In school, kids may act differently than homeschooled kids.  They have to learn how to survive.  Not necessarily in a negative way all the time but they do.  There are social cues that they have to follow or they will be teased or bullied.  It is just the way it is.  They may learn to tease to fit in.  Or they may not fit in themselves.  I find with homeschooling they can be different (who they are) without having to change to fit in.  My kids can wear unmatched clothes that they think are beautiful together without the worry about what others will say.  They are who they are.  

My kids are not socially awkward.  They are socially themselves.  

My kids are in homeschooling activities, skating/hockey, swimming lessons, around their cousins, library programs.  Socialization doesn't have to happen in a school, around a bunch of kids the same age who may or may not be great for them to be around.  

One of the main reasons I homeschool is BECAUSE of socialization.  

post #19 of 37
Quote:

Originally Posted by homeschoolingmama View Post

 

My kids are not socially awkward.  They are socially themselves.  

 

thumb.gif

post #20 of 37

Read "Teach Your Own" by John Holt. So many great stories of homeschooled kids. 

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