Monday, April 7, 2008


A web friend of mine, Lisa, posted earlier this week about the famous quandary posed to homeschooling parents:

What about socialization?!?!

When I first started homeschooling I cringed at this question – oh no, they got me, the fatal flaw of the path a tread!

A couple years into it I answered with greater confidence in our choice -- I would rattle off our various involvements and talk about training in social skills and character and if that failed to impress then I would say that we also live with 12 other boys most of the time, so they get plenty of interaction with other kids since we have 17 of them living in the same house. Good enough?

I do like how one mom chose to answer the question about how she would socialize her children, she simply said, “Properly.” To read some other responses to this infamous question, check out this page.

As for myself, after many years of fielding this question, I now have a different response. I often snicker a bit under my breath reliving the many conversations I have had with people on this topic. And, I don’t say much of anything. I do often ask them to clarify what they mean by "socialization," because it means vastly different things to different people. And our conversation carries on from there.

In my journey to accepting homeschooling in all its glory, so to speak, I had to realize that my children don’t always need everything that ‘society’ tells me they need. They don’t need to spend their days with 27 other children all within a year of their age, studying the same topics at roughly the same pace, for a state prescribed amount of time by someone they never met before September who won’t even recognize them 10 years from now.

Socialization is one of those many ‘things’ that society tells me my kids need. Well what is socialization anyway? A few interesting definitions that I dug up around various web dictionaries:

- The process whereby a child learns to get along with and to behave similarly to other people in the group, largely through imitation as well as group pressure

-The process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status

-Socialization is the process by which humans or animals learn the values, norms and culture of their particular society. They learn to conform to the way of life in their society.

That makes you think, doesn’t it? Where better than home, surrounding by two loving parents, and an accepting environment to learn (which always involves stumbles and mistakes before mastery) how to prepare for adult status, to acquire values, norms and culture. I don’t think I would want my child ‘socialized’ in a school setting anyway. Behave similarly to others? Group pressure? Popular culture? Conformed to society?

Romans 12:2 is coming to mind here . . .

Then there are others that are really asking how my child will be able to socialize, which means something else entirely, that is to take part in social activities. That I really don’t see a need for. I suppose we do our fair share of it: sports, homeschool activities with other families, and various clubs, aside from the 12 boys we live with Sunday through Friday. However, were kids raised long ago largely removed from social contact somehow worse off? You know, that Laura Ingalls. If she had just had more human contact earlier on maybe she would have amounted to something. Poor Abraham Lincoln, just think what he could have been if he had access to today’s public school system!

Okay, I digress a little. God created something amazing when He designed the family. I know there is an incredible breakdown in families today, and this post doesn’t address that. I do know that God created me to mother and teach my children. He created my husband to father and teach our children. We enjoy our roles and take them seriously. I don’t think I could accomplish all that I feel I need to in mentoring these incredible lives He entrusted with us without 24 hours a day 7 days a week for 18 years, give or take.

I do give standardized tests for my own peace of mind, although they mean far less to me as the years go by, despite the ever rising scores. If I followed the school’s pattern my 10 year old wouldn’t be finishing up pre-algebra. If I followed the state’s mold we wouldn’t have gotten in that 3 on 3 soccer game after lunch today. If I worried about society’s list I wouldn’t appreciate the depth of their individuality. I guess the call to socialization is a strong one. I want to be the best example and encouragement possible for my children to learn biblical values and worldviews. That won’t come casually, I definitely plan on socializing my children, daily.


Sarah Corbin said...

Erin: This post was a blessing to me as you can see by my link. I was homeschooled from 1st grade through 12th and wouldn't trade it for anything. I will say that any "social skills" I missed out on were quickly caught up later! And as for all the negatives I missed . . . praise the Lord! God has set up such a hedge of protection in the family unit that we often ignore. I found your post insightful and amusing (I have "frozen up" when asked those difficult questions, when in reality, common sense would indicate the asker is the one who should be in the hot seat!)
Thanks for a great blog.
Good night

Lisa said...

Erin: This was a really great post. I love that you included the definitions. In the begiining of my homeschooling journey, I always felt like I had to defend my position and my reasons for homeschooling. Now, I feel like I can encourage others who may be walking the line wanting to make the decision to homeschool, but holding on to some of hte "socialization" fears and other homeschooling misconceptions. As always I enjoyed stopping by your blog today. said...

I wish I would have missed out on a lot of that "good ol' socialization" from public school! I could have done without, for sure! My one-year experience with homeschool as a teen was much better!

Definitely enjoyed this post!

SmallWorldReads said...

Great post!