The Social Blessings of Homeschooling

christian parenting family home education Sep 17, 2023
The Social Blessings of Homeschooling

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

– Colossians 4:6


 

Introduction

“You homeschool? How do your kids get socialized?”

It’s the question that every homeschooling family gets at least a few times in their lives. It’s also the question that makes us all roll our eyes (at least on the inside). Thankfully, homeschooling has moved from the edges of society and into mainstream, especially over the past few years, and larger numbers of the populace are beginning to realize just how non-existent this issue is for most homeschooling families.

Socialization, officially defined by Merriam-Webster, is simply, “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.” When families homeschool, they have the opportunity to maximize their personal intentions around this goal. Rather than learning habits and beliefs from their peers, children have the chance to have an education and social life that is handpicked and cultivated by the people who love them most. This runs against the grain of our current culture, but makes incredible sense and adults instinctively understand this without even knowing it. When we want to learn how to do something - say, a home remodel - we seek out a professional who knows what he’s doing to ask for advice. We would never go to inexperienced friends and expect to learn anything of real value. Likewise, who is best qualified to teach children how to behave in the world and become productive members of society? Hint: It isn’t other nine-year-olds! 

 

False V. Real-life Socialization

One of the most prevalent false ideas within the socialization concern is the thought that children need to be with others who are their exact same age. While this certainly has benefits, it is important that we don’t view this narrow goal as a necessity. In our family, our children are together all day, and none of them are the same age. When we attend homeschool events, they meet and interact with others of various ages as well. One interesting thing we’ve noticed is that often, homeschooled kids don’t “stick with” their peers as much as schooled children do, rather they run as a pack and have friends of many ages.

Homeschooled kids also have the opportunity to interact with more adults. We take our kids with us when we shop, have our oil changed, go to conferences, etc. Homeschooling allows us to do life with our children and in doing so, they build relationships across generational lines. We encourage them to speak for themselves as well, whether it is ordering their own food at restaurants, asking questions of a conference speaker, or speaking with parents of a friend. Our daughters also love to spend time with babies and toddlers, which allows them to develop nurturing skills and build relationships with young children.

The truth is, when people are concerned that a child isn’t being properly socialized because they aren’t in school, they’re operating under the false notion that being surrounded by a group of same-aged students is vital to a child’s ability to function in life. And yet, if you asked a random person on the street the last time they experienced this kind of socialization (i.e., time spent in a group of twenty people their same age), they’d probably say, “Not since I was in school.” This brings to light a startling fact: Being surrounded by people of the same age is a false kind of socialization that only occurs in a school environment, not out in the real world!

 

Teaching with Environments and Cultures

Our homeschool education takes place wherever we are, not just in a classroom (or at our kitchen table). Our kids learn how to behave in many different environments: church, stores, restaurants, the YMCA, airports, auditoriums, camps, etc. We even bring them along when we meet with our financial advisor and tax accountant so that they can see how we interact with them.

Some homeschool families - ourselves included - have been blessed with the ability to travel together. Such trips give us tons of opportunities to interact with others who do not have the same background or culture that we do. We’ve been blessed to travel with our kids internationally several times, and it has been extremely enriching and rewarding! Our children have been able to teach and learn from others on different continents. Our daughter Leah loved being in Kenya. At first, she was shy around the children who spoke a different language, but it wasn’t long before she was off holding babies! Our son enjoyed playing soccer with a group of boys in Peru, and also chatting with some high schoolers in Indonesia. Being a homeschooling family has allowed us to have these experiences that would have been all but impossible to navigate if our kids weren’t with us all day.

 

Parents > Peers

Homeschooled children spend a lot more time with their parents than their schooled peers, and this is something that we consider a major benefit of this kind of education. Parents get to have so much more influence and direction in the lives of their kids! When we are heading into a new situation (like visiting another country), we get to tailor-make their education around prepping them for this. We read about where we will be going, study manners, and discuss what we will be doing. Traveling also can come with some curveballs, and so we have had the chance to model good behavior in tough situations more than once as well. On a trip to Hawaii, our flight was delayed for eight hours. Everyone around us was grumbling and complaining about the sudden and lousy change in plans. While some passengers were angrily yelling, we gently talked to the kids about how it was disappointing but out of our control. It was an excellent opportunity for us to model how to deal with challenging circumstances. It also kept us accountable to our own reactions; seeing our children react to the anger of other people made us more determined to set a good example.

Another way we like to discuss social behavior with our kids is through good literature. We love to read fiction books together, and literary characters can often present us with excellent examples of good and poor behavior. We also reinforce positive behavior in our kids by rewarding them when they’re doing well. On the flip side, we correct and discipline when they make poor choices. 

As always, the Scriptures are our rule here. We point our kids to how Jesus interacted with others and use the truths of the Bible when we come alongside them in correction and encouragement. 

 

Conclusion

We’ve all heard the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and homeschooling gives parents a special privilege in curating a custom-made village for their children. Who kids learn from, where they spend their time, and the formation of their worldview can be deliberately chosen by loving parents with intentionality. As children grow, their social skills will develop and blossom when they make new friends and participate in unique experiences. Of course, some of these changes may be difficult or unpleasant at times - kids aren’t perfect - but homeschooling parents have a front row seat to these changes and can intervene quickly and kindly. Homeschooling, like parenting, is a long game. Seeds are planted and watered, and the growth comes with attention and patience.

 

Key Points

  • Homeschooling allows you to be intentional in the social development of your children.
  • Intentional socialization will help your children let their light shine and point others to Jesus, both now and when they are adults.

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