Why the “what about socialization?” question is so ridiculous and how to answer it.
The Socialization Question. That’s all you have to call it and all homeschoolers everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. If you haven’t been asked it, you know someone who has. It’s that question that kind of scared you when you first started homeschooling. Maybe it still does! What about socialization?
You don’t need to fear this question anymore, because it is actually a downright ridiculous question. And I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll give you some pointers for answering it so you’ll actually hope that stranger in the store asks you the Socialization Question.
Why is the Socialization Question So Ridiculous?
Definition of Socialization
Let’s take the definition of socialization into consideration first: the activity of mixing socially with others. In order to socialize, we need to be mixing, mingling, hanging out with others. Within the public school, socializing is only permitted in small spurts. When done outside of the allotted time, it results in some form of punishment. I think it’s safe to say that not a whole lot of quality socializing is actually happening in the public school.
I think it’s safe to say that not a whole lot of quality socializing is actually happening in the public school.
Goals of Socialization
Next let’s consider the goal of socialization. You’ll find a variety of goals out in the land of Google, but let me mash them all up into 3 points. Through socialization, our children should:
- Be learning how to interact with others in a way that is culturally acceptable
- Understand their role within our culture
- Cultivate shared values and beliefs.
Lumping 30 ten-year-olds into one room with a teacher who’s beliefs are who-knows-what may teach our kids a certain way to act and think and believe, but it’s not going to be in the way they should out in the real world. Or within my home for that matter.
(Please note that I have several public school teacher friends whom I adore. I've always told them that if I could guarantee that my kids would have them – or someone like them – as their teacher every year for all of their schooling years, my views on this would likely be different.)
Types of Socialization
There are different types of socialization: horizontal and vertical. Thomas Smedley said it best:
“In the public school system, children are socialized horizontally, and temporarily, into conformity with their immediate peers. Home educators seek to socialize their children vertically, toward responsibility, service, and adulthood, with an eye on eternity.”
How Do We Answer the Socialization Question?
A couple of ways not to answer this question:
1. Do not be mean.
Knowing how ridiculous this question is, and hearing it all the time, might get you feeling a little snarky about it. Understandable but not productive. If someone brings up the Socialization Question, they either struggle with the whole idea of homeschooling or are actually considering homeschooling themselves. Either way, we want to talk up this worthy journey of homeschooling and leave the snarky comments to the Facebook memes.
2. Do not respond with all the ways you are socializing your kids.
You take them to the park, the library, the store, dance class, church, co-op, etc. etc. Our success as a homeschooler is not defined by how many millions of activities we cart our kids around to.
Instead, kindly respond with something like this:
“If you are referring to training our kids to be able to mix socially with people from all walks of life, teaching them our values and beliefs, and equipping them to navigate this life successfully, then socialization is the very reason we homeschool.”
Have you ever gotten the socialization question as a homeschooler? How did you handle it?
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