What is socialization?

what is socializatonI take a look at my kids’ Facebook pages and wonder, “Why is the socialization question still being asked of homeschoolers?”

My kids, all 30+, have a predictable group of social media friends: family members, work colleagues, and school friends. Yes, that’s right “school friends.” Not all of in this last group were homeschooled, but it seems my children had as many age-mate friends as their traditionally schooled peers. In addition, they have “childhood” friends across the age spectrum, older, younger, and in between.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about the socialization question: Is a school full of foolish people (proverbs says foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child) the only place a child can learn to get along in our society? Another thought I often have: “Is socialization the goal of a traditional classroom school?”

I’ll not go through the long list of social deviants who were “socialized” in a government school. You know who they are. I can easily point to this list as proof schoolhouse socialization doesn’t work.

In light of the growing acceptance of homeschooling and the growing numbers of families who teach their children at home, one would think the question would be settled. I think people aren’t so much interested in how homeschooled kiddos will learn to interact in society. I think in their heart of hearts, they know socialization isn’t an issue. They really want to say, “I think homeschooling is great, but I don’t know if I can do it… I don’t know much about it … your kids are wonderful and I feel guilty.”

I used to give a snarky answer to the socialization question. When the subject comes up now, I respond with a question (in spite of English teachers warnings not to answer a question with a question). That question is “What do you mean by socialization?” This question opens the broader conversation of what homeschooling really is and the real question being asked.

People ask this question because they don’t want to come right out and say, “How do you homeschool?” or “What do you do during school hours?” or even “Is it possible for me to teach my own children?”

I no longer get irritated with this meaningless question. I now use it as a springboard to assuring the questioner that homeschooling isn’t rocket science and it is possible for anyone.

How do you respond to “What about socialization?”

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