Originally Posted by Aura_Kitten
My son was 6 when he went back to school.
With all I've learned in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology I really don't think homeschooling provides enough socialization for kids in general ~ that is, socialization within their peer group. They don't learn how to interact appropriately with kids their own age.
Knowing the social, unwritten / unspoken "rules" that our society operates with is called "cultural capital" ~ when people lack that cultural capital it makes their interactions extremely difficult.
Example: when I would take my son to the park and he'd play with the kids who had been in public school, they would all line up to get a drink, single file, take a short drink and move on... whereas he had no concept of the pattern, and despite being introduced to that in the park environment (where homeschool advocates would say he'd have the opportunity to socialize to their norms as well) he had no idea what was going on. He wanted to just ask them for a turn and drink his fill instead of waiting in line and then taking a short turn... I mean, this is a dumb example but, it's this kind of cultural capital that makes our society work.
In a homeschool environment, generally kids seem to learn that they can always stop, take breaks whenever, get snacks whenever, and stop and return to lessons they missed... and then later on in life, having to develop the understanding that the classroom structure can't be bent around people's needs is a difficult process. In college, I've befriended several kids who came to college direct from being home-schooled pretty much their whole lives, and they lacked so much cultural capital it was almost painful to watch. They had no idea how to actually interact with their peers, how to "shoot the breeze" with non-hs'ed students, or that their justifications for personal ethics didn't matter one bit to their professors (as in the case of one girl who wanted an exemption from dissections or collecting bugs for our Zoology course because she thought it was "mean").
Furthermore, most of them have had their media intake severely limited, which meant that when people around them made jokes about various pop culture elements (which come up far more frequently than I had ever realized, having never *had* to consciously think about it myself) they were completely clueless. One of them had to consistently stop the professor during the lectures and ask for definitions of just common stuff, things that everyone that goes to public school generally knows, like about malls and stuff ~ that we're exposed to if not personally at least vicariously.
And one hs'ed girl ~ she had experience babysitting and I had called about hiring her as our sitter... and while she may have had experience watching children is was completely obvious she had no clue about how to interact with an "authority" figure (an employer). She completely brushed off the entire job, never returned calls, was catty and flippant...
I'm sure that not all home-schooled kids are like this, but it seems like every one I've met around here come out extremely socially inept ~ including the ones whose groups make it a point to go to museums, go travelling, etc... and in a way it makes a lot of sense. They are isolated from the social norms of the broader society, and socialized instead with their small, intimate (usually religious-based) groups. And this all hasn't even taken into consideration the general lack of diversity that you can *only* find in larger-scale settings.
There's nothing *wrong* with socializing within a small group ~ but I think people need to know that it will probably cause problems later on.
WITH THAT SAID: I am NOT saying that the American public school system is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Education in the U.S. has a LOT of problems. But I don't think homeschooling is the best answer for kids.
This is funny -- I have an MA in Biological Anthropology, and I lived with a hunter-gatherer tribe for a while while in grad school.
And I don't agree with a single thing you've written.
First of all -- kids don't need to know "how to interact with kids their own age." They need to know how to interact with other kids, regardless of age. So if my 4 year old wants to hang out with 7 year olds, and vice-versa, that's just fine. It's artificial to group kids strictly by age.
Regarding taking turns, etc. -- both my 4 year old and my 2 year old know how to do this because they have to wait for each other (and me!) when we all want the same thing (for example, a drink from the water fountain).
I met quite a few homeschooled-to-college students at Harvard (where I went to grad school), and my husband has had a few in his classes at MIT (he's a Professor). Both of us have been impressed with the maturity level and inner drive of the previously homeschooled students. They all understood that the classes were for everyone and had no problem following the rules, etc.
As for the Zoology class example -- good for her! Why should a student compromise her values for the sake of conforming to the mean?
As for being isolated from broader society -- isn't that what happens to school-kids? They are stuck inside a building all day while the homeschoolers are out living life. My kids play with kids from a variety of cultures, we visit museums, hang out in Chinatown, travel the US and go overseas at least once a year, etc. etc.
Sorry, your post addresses so many myths that I couldn't help but respond.