What about socialization?
- Thursday, June 08, 2000
The more your child can accomplish while still in the home, the easier it is for you, the parent, to continue exerting your influence while they are learning. College-level courses, even though they are offered at Christian colleges and universities, can be challenging and controversial to a student's philosophy of life. We home school our students, at least in part, because we want them to benefit from what we have learned along the way (rather than what some professor has learned). When your son or daughter can take courses while living in the environment of your home, they are to clearly think through issues that may be confusing to them. He or she can benefit from discussion with you, and minimize the negative social influences that occur in dormitories and society houses. Once again, the home school is an exceptional setting for "real world" socialization, rather than age-segregated socialization.
It probably makes sense here to take a moment to address this topic straight on. We think that many people who ask this question are probably sincere. But many of them are assuming a lot that doesnt align with the true nature of education.
The most often cited disadvantage of home schooling in our culture today is the lack of socialization. However, we are prepared to attest that one of the most valuable advantages of home schooling is . . . socialization!
We have had numerous people question us over the years saying, What about socialization? or, Arent your children missing out on the benefits of socialization gained by being in an organized school setting? The question has as many forms as there are variations in the English language. But it still comes down to one ultimate issue that many people want to force us to acquiesce. . . that our children will suffer if they are not socialized in a traditional school situation.
Our view is that proper socialization should include the ability to relate to all ages, socio-economic groups, and both genders appropriately. It includes proper respect for siblings and parents, as well as friends and relatives. It means being able to communicate intelligently with adults as well as children.
Traditional schools diminish proper socialization because they foster peer pressure and discourage cross-age relationships. Even when a family sends their children of various ages to a public or private school, the siblings are separated according to age level and isolated from their relatives into grades. It is assumed that this is the healthiest way to educate children. Children are forced to ally with others of their own peer age and put their trust in a teacher (or teachers, in the secondary school level) who knows best how to provide educational material for their intellectual consumption. After six to eight hours in this environment, they are sent back home to live in an environment in the real world that rarely matches this artificial one.
Where in real life do we join in activities where we are isolated according to age? It does not happen anywhere else in our society except in the institutional school classroom. Even in college classrooms, students may span many decades in age. Our children are more properly socialized in the home school environment than those in the public or private school will ever be.
Of course, our method of socialization is quite different than that employed in the public or private school setting. Our idea of socializing is spending time as a family with people of all ages. As we have just illustrated, in life outside of organized schools, people do not group themselves according to age and address. It is important for the young person to be adept at relating well to all ages and various cultural backgrounds. The home school situation provides superior socialization skills as children are exposed to real life situations through family friendships, work situations, and special learning opportunities (tutoring, clubs, organizations, etc.). We do not believe positive socialization can occur more efficiently than in the home, church, and community.
To summarize, our children have the best opportunity to learn to relate to others, become productive citizens and members of society because they are properly socialized within the context of the nuclear family. They are taught to be self-governed individuals who respect their parents, siblings, and others within the home, church, workplace, and community. As they venture out from the home school into expanding environments like college, industry, business, military training, or other areas of society, they are well rounded and able to cope with their circumstances intelligently because they have learned to communicate with others in an eclectic atmosphere.
If you want to be a good steward of time, energy, and money, you must explore the many opportunities for getting a head start on college while your children are still in the home. Starting there will also provide them with a head-start on entering the world as truly socialized individuals who will have an impact others, as Christ calls them to do.
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