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What about Socialisation?

This is quite possibly the singularly most raised question by parents - AND their surrounding family and friends - and can often be a very contentious issue, when it comes to contemplating whether or not to homeschool!

It is also, quite possibly, the one topic on which there is the MOST ignorance and misunderstanding out there...

For us at Love2Learn, we can't help smiling whenever this question is raised, because it's almost as if people seem to think that because you are going to start homeschooling your children, you are going to lock them up in a cupboard afterwards! (smile!)
The reality is that a homeschooling day is very often just a mainstream school day in reverse… i.e. With mainstream, you’re at school (with some of your friends) in the morning; but then you’re often at home in the afternoon. With homeschooling, you’re at home more often than not in the morning, but in the afternoon you could be visiting and playing with friends, partaking in extra-mural sport etc.

Naturally, the development of friendships and the opportunity to play and interact with others IS important for children, whether they are homeschooled or not! However, in our opinion, far too much is made of this issue; when, in reality, a play date every once in a while, coupled with the socialisation opportunities provided by extra-murals, church youth activities etc. is more than sufficient.

Independently conducted, scientifically valid research has proven beyond any doubt:

  • Homeschooled children are - in the main - very well socialized! In fact, research indicates that they are often significantly better socialised than their school-going peers.
  • Homeschooled children are often substantially more mature - reaching the IML (Independent Maturity level) - at a much younger age.
  • Homeschooled children demonstrate a healthier sense of self-esteem and display strong leadership tendencies.
  • Homeschooled children have been proven to be far less peer dependent and less subject to negative or destructive peer pressure. (Something that I'm sure you will agree is of ENORMOUS comfort and a blessing to us parents in this day and age!)

There are at least TWO significant flaws in the "apparent" ideal socialisation environment of a mainstream school, which people often neglect to recognise:

  1. The school classroom environment is in fact, perhaps the singularly most unnatural environment in terms of promoting significant social interaction.
    Once a child leaves school, it is unlikely that they will EVER again be in a room for two-thirds of a day, where virtually everyone is of the same age and - in some schools - the same sex!
  2. Schools and the environment there, encourage children to ONLY socialise with their age and grade-level, which promotes HORIZONTAL SOCIALISATION, but extremely poor VERTICAL SOCIALISATION (the latter being the norm in society) - and they can thus easily become disinterested or unable to socialize with children younger or older than themselves!
    They show discomfort when speaking to adults outside of their immediate family.

On the other hand, homeschooled children have far greater opportunity to socialise vertically, viz. within a broader spectrum of ages on a daily basis - from tiny babies to grandparents and everything in-between.
This results in a greater ability and ease when communicating with different age groups.
Research shows homeschooled children are very comfortable with VERTICAL SOCIALISATION!

As a FINAL point on this specific notion...
If we as parent's think back on our mainstream schooling experience; would we say that ALL of the children in our grade level were perfectly socialised human beings?
The obvious and honest answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Now ask yourself, how could that be - after all these children were in mainstream schooling... Clearly, the recipe for a well-socialised child is definitely NOT that they must attend a mainstream school!

Interestingly, research also shows that after graduation, approximately 70% (almost three quarters) become community leaders and entrepreneurs, employing others and contributing positively to the economy of a country, as well as being strong men and women of God.
Finally, as a Christian family you are able to build unity, respect, love, deep understanding and closeness in and of the family unit. The family is increasingly coming under attack, but homeschooling is a wonderful God-given way of restoring strong family bonds! In the nurturing environment of your home, your children can develop poise, confidence, self esteem, and independent thinking, away from the institutional peer pressure to conform.

Follow this link for more on available research on Home Education in South Africa.
Follow this link for more on International Home Education Research conducted by NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute) in the USA.