Many people have the misconception that homeschoolers are isolated at home all day, with little or no contact with the outside world. This couldn't be further from reality for most homeschooling families. But socialization is not merely having a social life. Socialization is developing social skills that will enable children to interact appropriately in different situations.
Mrs. Duprey put it this way:
"Socialization is knowing how to act appropriately in various situations and is best taught by adults who care about the child.
Socialization is not the same as having a social life. Remember this when you hear the dreaded "S" word from others. Your homeschooled kids will have as many friends and activities as they want and you allow (and likely more time than their PS peers to enjoy them).
They will be socialized by their parents and other caring people who will help them learn appropriate behavior in different situations- at home, in public, in informal and formal activities. They will have many opportunities to learn and practice social skills as they will be interacting with the real world on a regular basis."
Homeschoolers and Social Skills
With the guidance of their parents in everyday life, homeschooled children learn the social skills that will carry them through life. Parents help strengthen their children's social skills by teaching them to behave appropriately in different settings. Children learn by observing the examples of those around them. Parents can lovingly help their children become responsible members of society by being good examples and guiding them in everyday life.
Observing my grandson with autism where basic social skills weren't natural at all, but had to be specifically taught helped me to understand the importance of being able to properly interact socially with the world around you. For some children social skills come naturally, while others need more guidance. Caring parents and the family unit can be ideal mentors for molding social skills.
Children practice their social skills when interacting with others in their "social life." Be a good example to your children in how you act in the situations you encounter. Provide your children with opportunities to use their social skills in the real world, in your routine errands and in their own social activities. Correct inappropriate behavior when necessary and explain what is acceptable and why. If your child struggles with these things, pay attention and provide more opportunities to work on the areas that need reinforcement.
- Be creative: Provide real world opportunities to learn and practice social skills.
- Be consistent: Pay attention and correct inappropriate behavior when necessary.
- Be compassionate: Take heart and guide children to grow to mature, responsible adults.
Homeschoolers and Their Social Life
Homeschooled students can have a very busy and abundant social life. For some, this happens naturally, others have to work a little harder to arrange activities for their children. Here are a few of the many activities homeschooled children participate in:
- Other homeschoolers: Many homeschool families participate in homeschool group activities such as field trips, park days, coop classes.
- Sports programs: Students can participate in city sports, homeschool sports programs, and some public schools open up their sports programs to homeschooled students.
- Youth Groups: Many homeschool students join clubs and programs like 4-H, scouts, youth groups, etc.
- Friends: Play dates are often arranged with friends.
- Volunteer Work: Some homeschooling families volunteer at nursing homes, feeding the hungry and other community opportunities.