Mention that word around homeschoolers and you’ll have us cringing, then either ranting or running. It’s a word thrown at us to say we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, that we’ll all grow up to be poorly adjusted hicks who can’t carry on a decent conversation with anyone. Kids, it is argued, need to be around other kids to learn proper social skills, and homeschooling—isolating them at home by themselves—doesn’t give them that.
I homeschooled with about five other girls my age. Today, three of us are happily married and one is engaged. One has a bachelor’s degree with distinction, one went through NAIT, and another is working on her Ph.D. One volunteered with special needs kids for several years and is now getting a degree in special education. Another chose the career path of a graphic designer and painter. I would say that we are all successful, satisfied, and “socialized.” Since then, I’ve met even more happy homeschoolers, like authors C. J. Darlington (homeschooling student) and Tricia Goyer (homeschooling parent).
Socialization isn’t even in my dictionary. “Socialize” is, and means “1. make social; make fit for living with others. 2 adapt to community needs” (Gage Canadian Dictionary). Social means “1. of or dealing with human beings in their relations to each other; having to do with the life of human beings in a community. 2 living, or liking to live, with others” (GCD).
Is that what the homeschooling naysayers are concerned about? That we all learn to dwell with each other, to participate within our communities, to like each other? Then they needn’t worry, because most of the homeschoolers I know are quite involved in their communities—in fact, I would argue, more involved than school kids, because they actually have the time to help others, since they aren’t bound by what they can do after school.
People argue that kids need to be socialized with kids their own age. Yet what I’ve seen is that many kids in the public school system learn to interact with kids their own age—and only kids their own age. My brothers and I had adult friends when we were in our teens, and we were comfortable playing with kids of any age. One family of homeschoolers around the block from us had nine kids, ranging in age from five years older than me to fifteen years younger. We played hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer, with whoever was available to play. It didn’t matter how old they were, just as long as they could run after a ball or skate after a puck.
There’s more places than just school for kids to meet others and learn social skills. So may I repeat: socialization? Bosh.