I think the most common question people ask about home schooling is What about socialization? Sometimes I feel like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride: "You keep saying that word. I don't think it means what you think it means!"
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines socialization as the following:
the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status
Socialization is a process that begins at birth with the explicit purpose of training for becoming an adult. Often times, I think we try to interchange "socializing" with "socialization". Let me tell you that in public school, they don't approve of socializing during school hours.
How do I know?
When my son was in the second grade, nearly every day, he received a note in his folder with this admonishment: "Excessive talking." I really didn't know how to follow up with disciplining this inappropriate behavior at home because I wanted him to socialize with me!
While home schoolers might have been isolated in the past, he good news is that there are so many incredible opportunities for home schoolers these days that the fear of becoming under socialized is not an issue anymore. Being a part of a Classical Conversations community has made this simple for me.
I’m sharing some of my fears and how CC has helped me overcome them in a series on my blog. If you missed the other posts, make sure to go back and check them out.
- Fear #1: What if I forget to teach something?
- Fear #2: What if I don’t know enough?
- Fear #3: What if I’m not cut out for it?
- Fear #4: What about socialization?
- Fear #5: What if I can’t afford a private education?
Fear #4: What about socialization?
Really when the fear of our kids missing out on socialization opportunities come up, I think it's the social aspects of school that we think they'll miss. We don't want them to miss out on our good memories like class parties, yearbooks, field trips, and eventually choir, band, and prom.
Since home schooling has become more prevalent in the past twenty years, there are so many more opportunities for kids to socialize than before.
Peer Group Socialization
On our Classical Conversations community day, my kids have the opportunity to be in a class of kids their age. Since much of the community day is centered around conversations, we don't have as much trouble with the excessive talking issue we had in public school, that is as long as he stays on topic.
Outside of community day, we often plan play dates at the park, field trips in the area, or study groups at the library. My Challenge age kids often use Google hangouts to study with their classmates at other times during the week.
What About the Special Memories?
Each Classical Conversations community is different, but ours throws class parties, exchanges Valentines Day cards, and tries to put together a yearbook every year. We host potlucks for special lunches during the year, go sing carols at nursing homes at Christmas, and host an end of the year celebration to recognize the hard work completed that year.
As the students move into the Challenge years, we continue to go on field trips together and host special events. Challenge 1-4 participates in a special protocol event with the community. Again, every community does this a bit differently, but it is a semi-formal to a formal event. They will enjoy a nice dinner together, practicing their etiquette, and then attend a cultural event. Since it's not a dating event, the pressure for pushing a relationship that isn't ready doesn't happen.
Social Opportunities Outside of CC
There are so many more great ways to expand the social life of your homeschooler. Often times, the problem is not a lack of opportunities, but too many opportunities that you can't do them all.
We have music students (and their families) coming through our house four days a week, so we aren't hurting for social opportunities. Here are some things that my other home schooling friends are involved in:
- Sports including: football, soccer, baseball, tennis, track, ballet, and gymnastics.
- Music including: band, choir, orchestra, piano, guitar, violin, and many other instruments.
- Art including: painting, drawing, and photography.
- Speech and Debate teams
- Community theater productions
- Church youth groups
- Mission trips
- And so much more
Truth: You Don't Need a Public School to Socialize
If you're concerned with your home schooler not having enough opportunities to socialize, then rest assured that there are plenty of opportunities for positive social experiences for your children. You might just have to do a little work. It's really the same in public school. In order to build true friendships, you have to pursue a relationship. That's what it's all about.
Classical Conversations communities are a simple way to find like-minded friends to journey through the world of home schooling with. I've been amazed at how many deep relationships I've developed through my CC community. I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Make sure to check back as I finish out my series on home schooling fears:
Fear #4: What about socialization?