What about Socialization?

2017_9_13 - What About Socialization_Amy Koons_Updated

Today let’s talk about the infamous question, “What about socialization?”

It’s funny to me that when people find out we homeschool, they never inquire about substantive academics. Like, “What about math? Are you sure that you possess adequate skills to teach STEM subjects in this advanced technological age?”

But people are concerned that our homeschooled kids are getting enough socialization.

According to Oliver DeMille, author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, this is because the public schools are no longer primarily about imparting academics to our kids. They are primarily about socialization.

“The actual curriculum of the public-school system is about 75% social and 25% skills,” writes DeMille. “The real goals of school are more social than academic. If you doubt it, pull your kids out of school to start homeschooling, and see what your friends and family say. I’ll bet you won’t be asked, ‘Hey, what about academics?’ But I guarantee you someone will ask, ‘What about their social life?’”

Socialization is actually important and should not be discounted. We all live in communities and we will come into contact with other people. Children aren’t going to grow up and never spend time with other people.

The question we should ask ourselves, according to DeMille, is “What are you socializing for?”

When people ask homeschoolers about socialization, what they usually mean is, “Will they seem normal and well-adjusted, or backward and strange?” states DeMille. “In most cases, this depends on the parents. If parents are so-called ‘backward and strange,’ chances are their kids will be also—even if they are in public school.”

(So, basically, children are going to be generally like their parents, regardless of the type of schooling they receive. No pressure, parents!)

“In fact,” continues DeMille, “Such [so-called socially backward children in public school] will likely be less ‘normal’ when they reach early adulthood, given the teasing and rejection they are almost sure to feel in school. At least in homeschool, their confidence is supported and they have a strong chance of getting a good education without their love of learning being destroyed by an artificial social and class structure which dominates the hallways, locker rooms, and classrooms. Many of those who tend to struggle socially anyway may be better off in a homeschool than [in a public school].”

DeMille also points out that all parents—including public school parents—need to give thought to the issue of socialization.

You need to ask: “Are they perhaps being socialized in bad ways? Are there opportunities or lessons you can give them that will improve their socialization? All parents should consider socialization as an important part of growing up.”

And, finally, this is something I have thought about a lot. But, DeMille articulates it so well:

“Consider the question [of socialization] at a deeper level. The highest level of socialization, the ideal, means the ability to effectively work with people of all backgrounds, stations, and positions, of really caring about them and being able to build and maintain long term, nurturing relationships. [Public school], by its very nature, discourages this. Spending your time with older sixth graders or the cheerleaders or whatever group is seen as most popular often earns you the title of snob, unless you are ‘one of them.’ And if you are a member of the ‘in’ group, socializing with those ‘below’ your station is frowned upon and discouraged—except by parents and teachers, who are very impressed with you, earning you a reputation as a ‘teacher’s pet.’ Much of this is carried into college and career and even into politics and pettiness in the work place.”

So, what type of socialization is actually healthy? What type of socialization is best to actually prepare our children for the real world?

Whenever people ask me about homeschooling and socialization, I smile and say, “I wish you could meet my sister.” My sister Betsy was homeschooled from 1st grade through 12th grade and she is the most socially adept person that I know. She is now a successful pilot for a major airline and has more friends than anyone can count.

Amy_Koons - Socialized Kids.jpg

Here are my kids a few weeks ago, after socializing on the soccer fields and volley ball court for a few hours.

Because I know Betsy, I have never worried about my homeschooled children being adequately socialized. DeMille’s insightful comments just prove what I already knew.


Photo Credit: Graphic design by Anna Soltis. Second image courtesy of author.

9 thoughts on “What about Socialization?

  1. Thank you for this message. I learned about homeschooling nearly 20 years ago from other mothers. That encouraged me to homeschool my “special need” daughter. This is the daughter who her specialists said she would never learn how to read. She is two year delayed. Severally mentally retarded. Down Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome and other labels I refused to label her. The Afrocentric School that one of my foster sons went to had labelled him also with negative names. He needed much attention. I gave it to him 1-on-1 in our kitchen. He didn’t know I was teaching him math when he “assisted” me using the measuring cup and spoons. He quickly caught on with Math (fractions, addition, subtraction). Reading also as I would have him to read my recipies. I would tell him what a strong, beautiful voice he had and I loved that voice. God was going to use his voice in his kingdom. His teachers actually called me and said they changes in him and how he was coming out of his shell. One of their questions was, “What did you do? How did you do it?” A small part of my answer to them was, “I make learning FUN.” All children don’t learn the same way. I am a “seer” and a “perceiver”. God gave me those gifts. That is another reason why I am homeschooling my “special needs” daughter.
    Something happened in 2012-13 that is still affecting me physically. Maybe her also. She has been known to be a social butterfly in Pre-School, Kindergarten,and daycare.
    She has had an IEP since she was about the age of 3 years. My daughter loves reading. She devours books. She’s an artist. I have ALL her art work since before first grade.
    I am not only a Pastor, preacher and public speaker I am also a mother, grandmother, and Christian motherly caregiver to my daughter who is homeschooled by ME.
    Again, the mothers who homeschooled their children have excellent relationship with their children. They give their children the best as they have their best interest at heart.
    There are a few online schools as well as those who just deliver the curriculum. I attended the University of Cincinnati online any time I wanted to.
    We are in a new time and deminsion and hopefully education will also be forefront.
    We went to historicical landmarks. And others…
    Thank you for allowing US to speak on the behalf of this topic. Yes, we do meet new people and have some of our “old friends.”
    The only subject she dislikes is Math. We are overcomers. Standing strong.
    One last string. I didn’t want my daughter to drop out of school. As I’ve said to her and myself, ” We didn’t come this far to quit.” Now, we are looking for her class ring, her robe and everything to celebrate her graduation.
    Even our libraries staff members from OHIO and WV are a part of this. I am so grateful and thankful.
    Hopefully, her book, “Just Me, Mercedez E.” will be out in 2017/2018. She is also in a Christian environment daily. We still believe in the USA’s flag. Old skool (school) songs like the Battle Hymn of the Republic, God Bless America, The Star-Spangled Banner, My Country, Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful…Schools don’t teach these songs any more like I was taught in Elementary, Jr. High, and High School as well as my two oldest daughters who are 35 & 37 were taught. Some schools say this is History. Well, I say it is a part of our History, Now and Future.
    Thank you!


  2. Thank you for this article. We plan to homeschool our daughter when she’s older. She’s only two now, but we are already learning about it to prepare for the future. We are excited by all that we can offer her in homeschooling. Thank you for addressing our concerns. I recently read Dr Gordon Neufeld’s work. He believes that peer-orientation (as opposed to a child being parent-orientated for their direction) can be very problematic. PS… our daughter’s name is Amy too!


    • That’s great you are intentional about gathering information! You are wise to think about things in advance. Enjoy the little years while they are here. Two year olds are so cute and so busy!


  3. I dont think you actually answered the question of how to accomplish socialization, or what type pf socialization is best or practical. I say this as the frustrated father of a K student in a class of 31. My brother and his wife homeschooled their two kids, and they turned out great, but that was in Utah, in a community of homeschoolers. I live in SoCal.
    Thanks for the article.


    • There are MANY homeschool groups here in SoCal, Kevin! If you are looking into homeschooling in SoCal you can start by contacting HSLDA. They will be able to help you connect with groups in your specific area. I strongly encourage you to do so. I have been homeschooling in SoCal for 15 years successfully because of the connection with a group.


    • Kevin, you are right that the blog article didn’t actually touch on how to socialize children in a positive way. I think I touched on this a little bit when I quoted DeMille, “The highest level of socialization, the ideal, means the ability to effectively work with people of all backgrounds, stations, and positions, of really caring about them and being able to build and maintain long term, nurturing relationships.” We try to take our children to lots of places where they are around people of different age groups and different types of people and we try to model good socialization habits. Every time my children listen to me greet a store clerk, or tell another mom thank you, or apologize to someone, they are learning positive ways to socialize. I also try hard to help my children make friends (play dates, events. Etc.) with children and families I really respect and want my own children to emulate and I try to steer clear of kids who I don’t want my kids to emulate. I hope that helps! I’m not an expert but these are some thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We love Thomas Jefferson Education and what the De Milles have taught us is irreplaceable. Your post is spot on too. Though I would perhaps diagree with the point of children becoming exactly like their parents in terms of their ability to communicate effectivly with others or build relationships and interact with society and would say that is a huge generalisation. Many factors can be taken into consideration with why people respond t certain situations the way they do. Why the may come across ‘weird’ or unable to communicate effectively. Those reasons can include but perhaps are not limited to trauma or other personal expiriences, anxiety, learning disorders, depression or deep thinkers.
    It is apparent to me that it is societies expectations of others that excludes many from the ‘norm’ and it seems that although many people would agree with such view points, once explained or discussed with them, they perhaps do not take action to alter and regulate their own relevant actions and behaviours. They remain part of the problem instead of becoming part of the solution. As you have mentioned it appears these attitudes are learnt and adopted in the school enviroment and it multiplies ike bacteria and spreads out into the real world.
    A family member said to me once that I should be making sure I am preparing my children to cope and fit into these aspects of society because otherwise they may find themselves unable to cope in the future. Aside from the fact that I know my children will get to socialise in many forms with a variety of people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures I also agree with something Krishnamurti once said ‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
    Someone I met in my early teens once quoted this to me and it has stuck with me ever since.


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