Yep, that’s right–a homeschool post on socialization.
First of all, a little detour on what is meant by socialization. Google defines “socialization” as
- the act of mixing socially with others
- the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society
For many people, “socialization” means that a child is enrolled in a school with same-age peers, spending the day under the tutelage of their instructor and mingling with other children during group projects and recess times. While this certainly does offer a child social experience, it’s only part of the picture.
Siblings offer built-in socialization.
Socialization begins at home, and it looks different for every family. Children who attend brick-and-mortar school will have different social experiences both in and outside of school, depending on personality and family values. Some kids keep mostly to themselves or play with only a few friends at school, while others play with a large group of children. Some families spend much of their free time quietly at home. They may interact with each other constantly, or they may engage in more solitary activities. Other families schedule frequent playdates, interact regularly with neighborhood friends, or are involved in activities at church or in the community. Each family chooses the way that they feel will best teach their child the social skills necessary for life, modeling social interaction for their children in all they do, whether they realize it or not.
If each family socializes differently, then clearly socialization will look different for each homeschool family. Some folks have social opportunities built-in, with a houseful of siblings or a multitude of cousins living nearby or a neighborhood teeming with children. Some families are involved in myriad activities, getting their kids out of the house and interacting with others every day of the week. And some families prefer to spend more time at home, limiting their outside engagements or simply taking advantage of opportunities as they come.
My husband and I are both introverts. We could be perfectly content spending a majority of our time quietly at home or enjoying bike rides or hikes as a family. While we enjoy a good conversation, we find large groups of people to be exhausting, and we don’t eagerly seek chances for a night out with friends. He has several gamer friends from a former job that he meets online for a couple hours at least once a week, strapping on headphones to chat about gaming and work and life. I chat with other moms during my kids’ class times and field trips, though my mom and sister are probably my closest friends. And we’re fine with that.
However, we want our children to have experience interacting with a wide variety of people. We want them to understand how to introduce themselves and start a conversation, how to join a game, how to deal with someone who is irritating or unkind. Since they are not in school all day, they don’t have that built-in opportunity to practice social skills with unfamiliar people and a wide variety of different personalities; I have had to deliberately seek out opportunities for exposure.