I was in a conversation the other day with an acquaintance from church. The person mentioned that his daughter is teaching her preschool daughter some school topics at home. That excited me to hear as a homeschooler, because it sounded like she might have decided to homeschool her daughter. I asked this person if his daughter had decided to continue homeschooling when her daughter is of school age. My excitement was quickly deflated when he replied there is no way she will homeschool, because “she doesn’t believe in homeschooling, as homeschooled kids don’t get enough socialization.” How do you respond to that??
Ahh, there it is again, the age-old “lack of socialization” argument against homeschooling. Sadly, many people have a stereotyped view of homeschoolers as being an obscure sect of social misfits who sit at home all day interacting only among their family members, and who never get out and interact with other members of society. While it is not possible for any one homeschooler to sway all of the public’s (mis)perception on this, it is possible for any homeschooler to present a sound case against the “lack of socialization” argument any time it comes up in conversation with a non-homeschooler.
One key point to remember when this argument is brought up in conversation is the meaning of socialization. To socialize children means to train them to be able to cooperate and interact with other persons while being mindful of the welfare of each person within the environmental setting called “society.” Another important point to remember is what a realistic society looks like. A realistic society includes a wide variety of people, who are of a wide variety of ages, and who come from a wide variety of regional and/or cultural backgrounds. This is in contrast to an unrealistic society that consists mainly of similarly aged peers from similar backgrounds.
Typical homeschooled children do not lack for opportunities to regularly interact with persons of many ages and backgrounds (such as during field trips, co-op classes, tutoring sessions, volunteer opportunities, entrepreneurial endeavors, game days, planned events, academic fairs, sports activities, church, daily errands, etc.). Meanwhile, traditionally schooled children mainly interact with similarly aged peers of similar backgrounds. Which group is being better trained to interact in real society?
Finally, there is an important point to be considered when a Christian homeschooler is trying to discuss the social benefits of homeschooling. The greatest manual of all for training a child in Godly social skills is the Bible. The greatest social skill of all taught within the Bible is found in Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV), “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Believers are called to train their children with the Bible as the final authority on all matters. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says (NIV), “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Attempting to train up a child (or permit a child to be trained up) without the Bible as the final authority will not yield the fruit (socially related and otherwise) which believing parents are desiring to see in their children. Therefore, Christian parents ought to seriously consider what kind of social training their children will be receiving if they are taught social skills out from under Biblical authority.