By Crystal Ladwig
Perhaps the biggest objection that many people have to homeschooling is the idea that there is an apparent lack of socialization for homeschooled children. To be honest, this was the biggest concern that my husband and I had when we decided to pull our children out of public school to homeschool them instead. As it turns out, there is a different problem related to socialization that affects us much more.
One of the first and best things I learned when we started homeschooling was the vast quantity of resources available to homeschoolers in and around the Gainesville area. There are so many groups, organizations and businesses that support homeschoolers that our real problem became which ones we should do.
A quick search on Facebook will reveal many local groups and co-ops where parents and their children can socialize with one other, share ideas, and learn from and with one another. Santa Fe College just completed their third year of homeschooling classes in their College for Kids program. Homeschoolers have had the opportunity to use technology to learn engineering, robotics, programming and design. The Alachua County Library system offers classes during the school day for homeschoolers each month. Many co-ops and homeschool groups have park days weekly. Most have field trips and classes where students learn together. Gamesville Tabletop hosts weekly homeschool game days. The Florida Natural History Museum offers homeschool days at least twice per year. The University of Florida hosts an annual Brain Awareness Homeschool day complete with dissection activities. And this is all just in the Gainesville area. If you are willing to take a daylong field trip, you will find countless more opportunities.
The result is a very hectic schedule. Between volunteering, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports, Santa Fe classes, Cade Museum classes, library classes, field trips, park days and co-op classes, it is rare for our family to be home for more than one full day at a time.
Homeschooled children do not suffer from a lack of socialization. They simply learn in a different way. They learn by spending time with adults, young and old. They learn in groups of children of all ages and abilities. They learn social skills in the very community in which they will use them in a practical sense each and every day. Homeschooled children learn social skills through the modeling of caring adults in real circumstances. They learn how their behaviors should change or vary in different settings or with different people.
One of the most positive aspects of homeschoolers’ socialization is the openness with which they address each other. Age or grade do not seem to matter much, and the pressure of what others will think of them is minimized.
Perhaps it is because homeschoolers seek out socialization that it has become such as non-issue for those of us who choose this educational option. As I see my children interact with other children (homeschooled, private schooled or public schooled), I am thankful and proud to see that they know how to interact with anyone they meet.