Have you ever listened to or been part of a conversation where a parent has been considering homeschooling? Concerned individuals of the motion usually aren't concerned about the quality of education the child will receive, although whether their education will later be valid is a good concern that will come up. The most common question is this: How will your kids learn to socialize?
I tire of hearing this lame question. Since when is school about socializing? Unfortunately that's become a very important, if not the most important aspect in today's system, but it shouldn't be. There are many reasons why parents choose to homeschool, but shouldn't the quality of their education be a primary concern, rather than their social life?
I personally spent 11 mostly miserable years in the public school system and spent two years at home studying through an individual study program. For the most part, I don't have a lot of good school memories. Yes, I liked learning and my grades were good, but I was always struggling to fit in. I often felt like I was near the bottom of the pecking order and many days I just wanted to play sick. Being smart didn't help either. Unless you're popular, you're better off being a loser and sitting in the principal's office every week than being a "teacher's pet." I was more than happy to leave when I did.
How will they learn to socialize? How do children learn to socialize in public schools? They learn to form cliques, to shun others, to bite, chew, tear down, and drive the outsiders to depression and thoughts of suicide. Oh yes, the students listen to countless anti-bullying speeches, but they often seemed pretty fruitless. Kids learn to stay in touch with the latest trends in our culture, to discover and experiment with drugs, talk dirty and how to have "safe sex" or not so safe. Is that really how you want them to learn to socialize?
The funny this is, as many homeschooled friends as I have, I can't say any of them are anti-social or ill-mannered. Many of them are much more socially competent than the high school students I knew. I'm sure there's plenty of bad homeschooled examples. The fault lies not in the method, but in the parents. It's up to the parents to teach their children how to socialize and conduct themselves in public. By getting them involved in church activities, homeschool groups, sports teams, other extracurricular activities and spending time with other young families, they'll get plenty of time with kids their own age. They don't need a school.
I like how Oliver DeMille examines this issue in A Thomas Jefferson Education. Although it's not a book about homeschooling, it definitely favours the method over what he calls the conveyor belt method, if done properly. And according to DeMille, socialization is a lot more than what children are learning in schools. "The highest level of socialization, the ideal, means the ability to effectively work with people of all backgrounds, stations, and positions, of really caring for them and being able to build and maintain long term, nurturing relationships."
After 11 years on the belt, I never learned to do that. Let's face it. The kids' social club doesn't produce good social skills. Stop giving me that lame objection. You'll have to come up with something else. And judging from how many of conversations I've heard, I already have a good idea what it is. I don't want to hear it anymore.