What--again? Isn't this the most common complaint we hear from the very beginning of our homeschooling? Yes, and the questioning won't stop now. As a matter of fact, it will only increase. After all, teens need to be around other teens. Have you not heard? So the popular culture insists, and disappointingly, many parents agree.

I will not spend much time here discussing the many negative aspects of "socialization" within the traditional schools. We are all quite familiar with the peer pressure environment of high school. Most of us lived through it ourselves (if barely!) in the distant past. We are also treated to ongoing updates as to the schools' violence issues, the flagrant immorality (or at the very least, the prevalent "romance" mentality), the incessant bullying, the rampant disrespect for teachers, etc.

It is true that teens need to learn to deal with many different types of people. They also should grow comfortable in standing up for their beliefs and gain valuable experience in leading others. However, these goals certainly don't need to be (and many would argue that they often can't be) accomplished in an institutional high school.

How can we, as parents of homeschool high school students, be sure that our teens have friends, learn to get along with various personalities, develop cooperation and teamwork skills, continue to respect authority and their elders, grow in their ability to empathize with others' problems, and mature into confident leaders--all the while maintaining their own values and faith?

There are actually many ways for positive "socialization" to occur within the homeschool setting. Be encouraged that employers and colleges have consistently pointed out that they see a big difference in the quality of independence and leadership, as well as general "people skills," that homeschoolers possess as compared to the typical high school graduate.

Here are some different ways that your high school teen can experience a wide variety of people and environments while being homeschooled.
(Remember: not all of these choices will be beneficial to all students. Each person is very much an individual with different needs, and each family must determine the experiences they believe are best for their teens. In addition, all situations should be previewed as to appropriate supervision and other such considerations.)

Positive "Socialization" Opportunities

  • Church and community 
  • Orchestras or symphonic bands 
  • Nursing Home or hospital volunteer work (Call around--these places are so grateful for visitors!) 
  • Teaching children's homeschool classes: art, music, drama, science, etc. 
  • Teen interest groups: writing, art, hiking, etc. (There aren't any such groups? Start one!) 
  • Sports: homeschool groups, church groups, community leagues (recreational or competitive). Don't forget the "overlooked" sports, such as fencing, tennis, etc. 
  • Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and scouting-type clubs (great leadership training!) 
  • Part-time employment in a variety of fields 
  • Camp counselor work 
  • Mission teams 
  • Community college classes (These provide a chance for academic studies amongst people of varying ages, who are generally more serious in their life outlook, while avoiding many of the social pitfalls of the typical high school.)

The above list is just a start. I am sure you can think of other experiences for your teens that will help them learn to relate well to others in different situations and to gain an appreciation for the many varied personalities they will encounter in this life.

Finally, there is another big plus to being homeschooled through the high school years. Your kids will naturally have more time, freedom, and flexibility than the typical student, so they can take advantage of valuable opportunities that simply would not be possible if they were burdened with the time constrictions of a traditional school.