Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on Social Benefits of Homeschooling

OK, it's been a really long time since I've posted, and maybe few people are even checking in any more. But as I was posting a comment on someone's blog today, it occurred to me that perhaps others would benefit from reading more about the social benefits of homeschooling.

In spite of mounting evidence that homeschooling is positive for most kids socially, there are still a lot of people who believe homeschooling produces social misfits. This is my response to a few of them.

I see here there are several who have said homeschooling is a negative for kids socially. Current research and the experiences of real homeschoolers say otherwise: homeschooling exposes kids to the real world far more effectively than sending them to school. After all, when in the adult world do you EVER spend hours every day sitting in a room with 30 other people exactly the same age you are? Homeschooling is work, no doubt about it, but it produces tremendously positive results in the lives of most homeschooled kids, academically, socially, emotionally and in many other ways. For more on the subject, take a look at this book: The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling, by Rachel Gathercole.

I'm not saying you should necessarily homeschool. Homeschooling, in my opinion, isn't for everyone. But don't let the naysayers convince you it will hurt your child socially. I know MANY homeschoolers - the vast majority of them are much better socially than most schooled kids I know. In fact, it's a standing joke among many homeschoolers: "Oh, yes, but that (schooled) child is so well socialized" (or the reverse: "Yes, poor, undersocialized homeschoolers"!).

Homeschooling allows kids to interact with others naturally, in real, everyday situations. It provides opportunities for parents to see how their child is interacting with others and provide immediate feedback. It allows the child to watch as their parents model proper social skills, and to experiment with new ones. If parents make reasonable efforts to keep their children engaged (Scouts, sports, clubs, church activities, etc.), kids have the opportunity to make friends the same way adults do - based on common interests and not limited in terms of age. Older kids learn to help younger ones; younger kids make close friends of older ones and find good role models. You don't get the artificial "we don't play with you because we're in 5th grade and you're only in 4th" baloney.

I've been involved in the homeschooling world for 37 years, off and on. I was homeschooled for 1st grade, 6th grade, and all of high school. I went on to have a very positive experience in college, graduating successfully from a solid private university. I have since worked with homeschooling families in several different contexts and have homeschooled my own daughters for 9 years, since my older daughter was 3 1/2. In my experience, the vast majority of homeschoolers are outgoing, friendly, polite, and articulate. They are generally far more pleasant to be around, and interact better with younger kids, same-age peers, older kids, and adults, than most schooled kids do. And if you really stop to think about it, that makes sense; just as you'd find if you crammed 30 rats in a cage all together, 30 kids crammed in a classroom together (or worse, hundreds or even thousands of kids crammed in a building together) end up biting and devouring each other.

Homeschooling has tremendous social benefits; be sure to take a look at Rachel Gathercole's book for more. In the meantime, don't be afraid to consider homeschooling. :)

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