A long while back, I mentioned I would get around to the "s" word....socialization. The number one question for homeschoolers everywhere from the very beginning! I hope the newest group of homeschoolers are not still fending off this topic. But just in case, I am going to share a tidbit from a column from 1997.
"The very first lecture I attended was by a Dr. Larry Shyers from the University of Florida. Guess what it was on? The Social Adjustment of Homeschooled Children Compared to Public Schooled Children! Dr. Shyers did this study as part of his work for his doctorate degree. When he first started, he really believed he would find out that the public schooled children would be better socialized. It was a blind study, meaning that those doing the evaluating didn't know if they were observing homeschooled or public schooled kids. Of course, most of us already know what Dr. Shyers found out! The homeschooled children ended up being the better socialized according to the definition that was being used. I loved this lecture!" Note: I believe his study was published in 1996. He came back to the FPEA convention the next year (1998) and I attended his lecture again.
Stepping away from quoting the long ago column now, I will add in from my memories and experiences. Dr. Shyers used criteria such as introducing yourself when presented to a stranger, using manners, not interrupting, etc. The homeschoolers scored very well. It was humorous as Dr. Shyers added that the homeschoolers were busy getting contact information from public schoolers that they had built a quick rapport with. While public schooled children have their strengths too, of course, their setting throws them with so many strangers on a daily basis, maybe it's to be expected that they wouldn't be as enthusiastic at meeting yet more strangers. Dr. Shyers also noted to his audience that it struck him as odd that public schooled parents were signing the permission slips for their children to take part in the study without asking questions about the study and exactly what their children were being subjected to. It was only the home educators that asked the hard questions. All of this came out of a man's mouth who openly admitted he was biased against homeschoolers before the study. I love an honest person!
Speaking to the strengths of homeschooled children, many of us readily recognized that it's the one room schoolhouse setting. They are not segregated to age, they interact with people of all ages. Add into the equation that many homeschoolers are highly involved in service projects outside of the home and many times with elderly people and the reasons for the strength in socialization are easily explained.
The desire for popularity is diminished within the homeschool community. Since each child's individuality is stressed as part of the homeschooling lifestyle, all children are more easily accepted for who they are.An added factor is that more and more parents are home educating their special needs children in order to maximize their strengths.
Participating in co-ops, speech contests such as the Tropicana Speech Contest, debate clubs, 4H and many others can all help children to work on following rules, taking turns and not interrupting. These are skills homeschoolers need to learn too. That is one of the reasons I stressed to new homeschoolers time and again not to be the lone rangers, but to get involved with other homeschoolers on some level.
Many of the new families I assisted would decide to go the lone ranger route and too often, I would receive a phone call from a discouraged family. Many times, the request was for help on getting their child back into the public school system. Sometimes it was for assistance in connecting with those support groups that were recommended a year before at the beginning of their journey.We all need each other and we all need socialization! We are social beings! Interdependency is a good thing!
I do think, for the most part, cashiers in grocery stores are very used to seeing homeschoolers out and about. Librarians love the homeschoolers being with them during the day. Every once in a while a homeschooled child has a negative interaction with a truancy officer but I think that has really diminished over the years. The days of sitting home with the blinds closed are long over and home educated kids are a vital part of every community. May it always be so!
The Lonely Swingset
By Lindley Evelo
The swingset is a lonely one,
the only one. It sits in the yard
without a playmate. It was sad.
I saw it be sad, sad, sad...I hate
to see a lonely swingset, a swingset
that is sad, sad,sad....Why was it sad?
It had no playmate. The playmate was
on a trip. The playmate was sad because
she had no swings to play on. The swingset
is blue,white and yellow and has a slide. The
playmate loves her swingset, lonely or not.