Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets folks stirred up like the topic of homeschool socialization. Some even consider this the primary argument against homeschooling. That’s why it’s a topic that can’t be ignored in my Homeschool 101 series.
The thing is, true socialization occurs so naturally that we’re never depriving our kids of it by opting to homeschool.
Let’s look at socialization and some practical ways to incorporate it into your day-to-day homeschool life.
Our Homeschool Socialization
(or Lack Thereof)
My two kids are five years apart and will talk to anyone about anything at any time — even my introverted oldest kiddo. They are comfortable being around pretty much anyone, to a fault almost.
They’re incredibly social creatures, to the point where my husband and I jokingly warn new people not to make eye contact with the kids unless they have at least thirty minutes to talk.
They don’t participate in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. They don’t play sports regularly, dance, or take gymnastics. They don’t take art or music lessons or participate in all kinds of community activities.
So, what’s our homeschool socialization secret? Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what true socialization is not.
What Socialization Is Not
Spending year after year with 20 or 25 children of the same age is not socialization. Learning how to stand in line or stay in that line while walking down the hall isn’t socialization.
Socialization isn’t about being around other kids or obeying when given a command. It’s also not being shuffled here, there, and everywhere to participate in every activity available through your school or in your community.
There’s some value in those things, but there’s more to socialization than that. If you’re really that concerned with socialization, you fail your kids by relying on the public school system or local sports teams to handle it for you.
What Real Socialization Looks Like
The dictionary.com definition of socialization is “ social social
That’s why sitting in a classroom of 25 eight year-olds isn’t any more successful in socialization than a typical homeschool setting.
In a nutshell, real socialization is simply living life. It’s interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds through the things you likely do on a regular basis.Socialization is living life and interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds.
Socialization happens at the grocery store or bank while communicating your needs to the employees. It happens at the library while asking the librarian for help.
Socialization happens while ordering at a restaurant, doing your job, and gathering with your church family each week and joining together to worship someone greater than the sum of all of us.
The Homeschool Socialization Solution
I wholeheartedly believe that socialization happens through living life and everyday interactions. That said, it’s possible that your kids crave specific regular interaction with other kids.
Here are some socialization solutions that allow for time with other kids without sacrificing the gifts of the homeschool lifestyle.
1. Homeschool co-ops or groups
These groups come in all shapes, sizes, and with all kinds of opportunities for homeschool families. If you don’t know the co-ops meeting in your community, check HSLDA’s listings to see what’s available in your area and explore your options.
2. Your church or faith community
This one is obvious, but regular church attendance comes with plenty of social interaction. Don’t just show up when services begin and race to the car when they’re over. Get to know your church and get involved. This benefits you, your kids, and your community.
3. Homeschool or community sports
Regardless of where you live, it doesn’t take long to look around and find something that needs to be done. If you see a need, talk to your kids about how to meet it and make it happen. This can happen by volunteering to help with story time at your local library, spending time with nursing home residents, sorting food at a community food bank, and lots of other ways.
5. Hobbies, fine arts, and recreation opportunities
It can take time to research these socialization opportunities, but they’re out there. Check with friends or local homeschool groups on Facebook to learn what’s worked best for their kids. Local parenting publications usually have updated listings for these activities as well.
6. The obvious opportunities
Sometimes the best socialization solution is to take advantage of the obvious. Make friends at the park, see what’s happening at your library, and anywhere else you spend your time. Those are some of the most natural places to let your social butterfly soar.
What about you? How do you tackle homeschool socialization? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
This post is from my Homeschool 101 series. Be sure to check out the topics below if you’re interested in more basics of home education: