From A Homeschooler - {Socialization}

 (If it looks like I am pregnant in this photo - uh, it's because I am.  The photos in these posts are not from my actual days as a student.  I apologize for this inaccuracy...)

Note: Since I originally wrote this post, I read the book "The Well-Adjusted Child" by Rachel Gathercole.  It is the most thorough work I have read addressing the socialization question that constantly follows discussions of homeschooling.  I highly recommend it.

(2016: Please note that this is a series I wrote several years ago as a general overview of my experience as a homeschool student.  If you have any questions about homeschooling and my homeschool experience, please comment below, and I would love to address them in future posts.  Thanks for reading!)





As far as academics go, it’s been well documented that homeschoolers do very well on standardized tests (more on that in future posts, but please see the resources at the end of this post for the stats), but when most people bring up concerns about homeschooling, it always revolves around the social aspect.  This was an area that the Lord worked out for us in the beginning especially.

Shortly after we started homeschooling we started going to a new church.  It was a small church, and there were other kids our age there.  The kids were all homeschooled.  From the beginning we had a good support group at that church, and I met some wonderful friends there, including my dear friend Hazel who I’ve mentioned before on this blog.

According to the law in our state, when you homeschool you still have to be enrolled with either the local public school or a private umbrella school for homeschoolers.  Many families choose the umbrella school option because it’s specifically meant for homeschooled families, and you get a lot more support and access to homeschooling events and resources. My mom enrolled us in an umbrella school for homeschoolers as soon as we started.  The umbrella school keeps track of records for homeschoolers and awards them a diploma once they’ve reached all the requirements to graduate, but all the work is still done at home.  They also often put together field trips for homeschoolers, and we did many of these field trips growing up.

My mom would later take over that umbrella school, and she ran it successfully for many years; she ran it until we all graduated and she handed it off to someone else.  I remember sometimes helping my mom address envelopes for newsletters for all the families who were a part of the school.  I also met my dear friend, Erin, through the school when her mom called up my mom for some recommendations.

As far as socializing, we started to realize there were a lot more homeschoolers around than we thought.  We started going to a Community Bible Study in our area, and this CBS was unique in that it had a program for all the homeschooled children of the women who attended.  So while my mom went to her classes, we all went to ours and met more homeschooled friends.  Within a couple years my mom started leading one of the classes, and we got to spend the whole morning there doing our schoolwork with some of the other kids whose moms were leaders.  We continued at that Bible study for years, and I met my dear friend Ashley there.

(I realize that I just said “dear friend” three times there, but it’s because to this day I’m still friends with each of these girls and consider them some of my closest friends.  They are very dear to me, all three!)

I haven’t really mentioned anything about sports because I was never interested in doing any sports.  I’m not athletically gifted, or coordinated.  I love that quote in The Princess Diaries where Mia says that she is more of a horse-back riding, rock-climbing girl, and that her "hand-eye coordination is zero".  That would be me as well.

My brother, however, did want to play sports, and he was able to participate in all the sports that interested him.  He played with Little League Baseball, and when he reached middle school he played with the basketball team at our local public school (you could sign up for sports or other extra-curricular activites at the public school without having to go to any classes there, at least in my state - there are even more options for part-time programs at public school today).  He also started on the wrestling team with one of his public-school friends; he was very good at wrestling and continued through high school. 

I will say that I went through a stage (*ahem*, puberty) where I sometimes wished I had more of an opportunity to meet boys (there weren’t many that I was interested in, or that were interested in me, at church or CBS).  However, in early high school I started with a homeschool youth group that gave me more opportunity to meet people (ie. boys, because that seemed so important back then).  I didn’t feel like I was missing out on friendships with boys for long. 

I remember sometimes wondering what it would be like to get to see the person you liked every day at school, but you know what?  Not seeing my crushes every day didn’t hurt me a bit.  Honestly, there was probably ess “boyfriend material” available for me at public school than in the groups I was in as a homeschooler.  I was a Christian and wasn’t willing to date anyone who wasn’t, but I am sure that standard would have been challenged in public school, which wouldn’t have been helpful.  It probably actually would have been detrimental at that stage of my life.

I never felt deprived when it came to friends.  I had my sister and brother who I saw every day, and we became close through the homeschooling years; we were each others’ best friends.  I met other friends in many places, and I am still friends with many of my childhood friends today.  I didn’t need school to develop friendships, because my mom made sure we had plenty of social opportunities.  That’s the key to "socialization" in homeschooling, and I find most mothers are very attentive to providing these opportunities for their kids.

That last year one of the moms in our umbrella school talked with my mom about putting on a homeschool prom.  Her daughter wanted to do some sort of dance before she graduated, and I am glad someone organized this because we were able to have a prom.  We had a good turnout of homeschoolers from the umbrella school. 

None of us really knew how to dance. (Actually, most public high schoolers probably don’t know how to really dance either.  I’m joking.  Kind of.) We hired a dance teacher and all of us showed up the day before the prom for dance lessons.  We had so much fun. 

Prom 2006 008blog
The three of us at prom.

We all came to prom dressed up – very few of us had dates, which actually made it more fun because everyone danced with everyone.  No one was a wall-flower; everyone just wanted to have a good time, and we did.  Looking back, if I had a choice, I would still choose not to have a date, because it took the pressure off and I got to dance with almost everyone – so there is no looking back on my prom with that guy who I never spoke to again.  It is a purely good memory.

Copy of My Graduation 049blog
Me at my high school graduation party.  Yes, that is a goat I’m holding.

Callie's Graduation-41blog
At my college graduation.

I didn’t have a graduation ceremony, but I didn’t really miss it, though there are homeschool groups that will do graduation ceremonies for homeschoolers.  I walked in my ceremony once I graduated from college, and that was the important one to me.  

Are you noticing a trend here?  For anything you could possibly miss in public school there is a group somewhere that will provide that for homeschoolers.  Except for partying.  I don’t think there’s a group that runs that.

(That was a joke, guys, don’t send me e-mails.)

One more post and I’ll wrap this story up!  You can read all the posts in this series here:




Resources:

1. The Washington Times, Homeschooling: Outstanding Results On National Tests, August 30, 2009, copyright 2012 Washington Times.

2. Dr. Brian Ray, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, National Home Education Research Institute, Salem, OR, 1997.

3. For more information about the above study and other similar studies, read this article: Klicka, Christopher J., Academic Statistics On Homeschooling, October 22, 2004, copyright 2004 HSLDA.
4.  Home Schoolers Score Significantly Above National Average, National Center for Home Education Press Release, December 7, 1994.

5. For more details on the above study read this article:  Klicka, Christopher J., Homeschool Students Excel In College, September 20, 2006, copyright 2006 HSLDA.



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LeAnna said...

I can't stress enough the importance of being a part of a church body that embraces homeschooling. I did NOT have that growing up, and it was hard. I did have a great homeschool co-op (which sounds like your umbrella school explanation, only there was not record keeping, etc, but that just might be because our state is very parental-right orientated) and we had a BLAST together. So many of us still live in the same area, and it's been a lot o fun to watch our kids grow up together, and be in the same homeschool groups. Love that.

Never in my life did I feel socially deprived. People always say you can't shelter you kids from everything, but I'm a firm believer that the innocence of our youth must be protected. I've never known a "sheltered" individual to NOT be able to handle life because their parents shielded them from too much of the world. (Obviously there ARE extreme cases, like with fundamentalist groups, but really...) There IS a healthy balance, and it's different for every child.

Great post's, girl!

Natalie said...

This is my husband's family's biggest concern with our plan to homeschool and it frustrates me to no end! They attend our church (but are not believers, unfortunately) so they see homeschoolers all over the place-I think about 70% or more of our church homeschools my pastor said. But they are still all convinced our kids will be 'awkward' or 'sheltered' or not have any friends. We tell them all the time that they will be in sports if they want, they will be in music lessons, they can go on the homeschool field trips, they can even take classes through our home school association! They will have friends!!! I think people always just think of the awkward homeschoolers but the way I see it is that yes, some homeschoolers are awkward, but if they went to public school, they would probably still be awkward! There are awkward public schoolers too :) Anyway, I am loving this series and I keep looking forward to reading them!!!

Hope said...

Wow, our state has next to nothing as far as having to enroll with a public or umbrella school. We don't even have to take standardized tests for homeschooling. And, you have to be enrolled in at least 1 class in public school to be involved in their sports.
All that being said, there are still TONS of opportunities for socialization and weely "co-op" classes for homeschoolers. Have you ever read the homeschooling portion of the Pioneer Woman's blog? I am constantly amazed by the creative stuff they do for homeschooling. It makes me want to homeschool my kids too!

Melanie said...

Loved reading this! This was probably the one aspect I was most curious to read about when it came to your homeschooling experience. I think everyone fears your child will be isolated if schooled at home..but good to know that wasnt your experience at all in your case! Thanks for sharing..and I love your prom dress too!

Kathryn said...

It's been too long since I've blogged or been on anyones blog lately, but its fun to catch up a bit now and see whats been going on. I was homeschooled too, and am now homeschooling my own sons. I feel so blessed to learn from my (parents) triumphs and mistakes and to put my own spin on it now as I homeschool children myself. I have really found that socializing and getting some "real" classroom experience is invaluable to my kids growth. They are learning all kinds of new etiquette in our homeschool co-op that I wouldn't necessarily take the time for at home (raising hands, lining up after class, scheduled recess, different teachers & teaching styles, interacting and getting along with peers). Lots of good stuff. I'm very thankful to give that to my kids.

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