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Socialization: The “S” Word Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Socialization

By Ann Zeise

Email me about socialization questions or remarks you’ve heard and how you responded, and I’ll add the most poignant or funny here. Please refer to the “Socialization” article when you write.

Homeschool Alumni Socialization Blues
“Socialization Blues” by Israel Wayne, performed at the 2006 Homeschool Alumni National Reunion, July 28-30.

“Aren’t you concerned about socialization?”

Most homeschooling parents want to tear their hair out if they hear this question one more time. I’m one of them. Note my bald spot. A tactic I use is to get the questioner to define what they mean by “socialization.” You won’t believe what I’ve been told that “socialization” means!

Email list community member Ronda’s favorite response to the question:

Aren’t you concerned about socialization? (regarding homeschooling)

“Yes I am deeply concerned…that is why I homeschool” 🙂

“How will he ever learn to fist fight?”

I’ll let him watch KungFoo movies or take karate lessons if he feels the need to learn how to fight.

“He’ll miss out not getting to attend dances.”

Miss out? I don’t care if he doesn’t learn “hot” dancing until MUCH later! Were school dances that much fun for you?

“He won’t ever learn to sit at a desk, raise his hand patiently, stand in line, etc.”

Somehow, these socially conforming gestures get picked up and used when necessary. My child didn’t need 13 years of school to learn patience.

“He needs to learn to cooperate in groups.”

Learning to cooperate within our own family is the best modeling, and then testing cooperative skills out in small, friendly groups in the community. As his skills increase, he’ll eventually be able to cope in less harmonious groups.


Being around adults modeling good manners develops better manners than being around peers who don’t have any.

“At school he’d get to meet others of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”

But will he learn to respect and get along with them? Our son bases his friendships on common interests. He has come to respect people of all ages for who they are and what knowledge they can share together. He’s oblivious to their skin color, backgrounds or age difference.

“He’ll be lonely without any friends.”

Friends are grown through time and effort during mutually beneficial and pleasant contacts. We have a friendly house where children feel welcome and safe. Constantly competing for A’s does not make for great friends.

“Does she know them all?”

Hello! Reading your Q and A article on Socialization brought to mind a conversation that my husband had with his father when my daughter celebrated her 8th birthday with a slumber party. We had 12 little girls over to spend the night (insane, but that’s another story). My father-in-law’s question was, “Does she know them all?”

HA! Nope, she homeschools and has no friends, so we just opened the phone book and started asking strangers to come to her party… My husband shared with his father that some of the girls were neighbors, some were homeschool friends, some were from 4-H and Girl Scouts, and some were from church. It is so absurd that people think that the only place to make friends is in school. After all, I don’t go to school, but I have friends!

-:?:- Vicki H., Alabama

“She won’t understand that tattle-tailing doesn’t work.”

Funny how righteously indignant homeschoolers still think that they have a right to protest, isn’t it? They aren’t used to back-stabbing, and I’m glad of it!

“Teenagers! They are so rude and disorderly! Racial gang warfare, sex too young, drug and alcohol abuse!”

Haven’t government schools done a wonderful job of socialization?

“He will miss out on walking the halls and being with the lunch table group.”

He’ll get to run in the park and have lunch at one of the picnic tables during park days weekly.

“What will he do? He will miss out on high school football and playing baseball.”

There’s Little League, Bobby Sox, and Pop Warner Football, if that’s what he (or she) wants to do. Most likely, he’ll choose some sport he can do his whole life long, such as skiing or rock climbing or roller blading.

“I met my girlfriend in high school and he won’t have a chance to meet girls.”

Some of the nicest girls homeschool!

  • Mom at a teacher’s conference: “Could you give her some more challenging work, she’s bored at school.”

Teacher: “She just has to learn to deal with being bored at school, that’s how life is and she needs to adjust to it!”

  • Saddest remark?
    Your son is just going to have to get used to being picked on and learn how to deal with it better.
    – Cathy
  • This is one comment I got:
    “You have to let them go sometime.”
    (My daughter was 3. I thought, how about if I let her go after childhood?)
    – Jill

“Don’t they want to have friends?”

I met a lady and was talking to her at a cub scout meeting for my son. She was asking questions and saying she felt that academically homeschooling is the best option but she has concerns about socialization. She then asked “Do they like to homeschool?” I said, “Yes,” then it was, “Don’t they want to go to public school?” “No,” was my reply. Then she said “Well, don’t they want to have friends?” I was so mad. I looked around: we were at a pack meeting, a very relaxed, fun one. Every one of my children was playing with friends, other kids they see in other settings! I said, “They have friends! They are not out there playing alone are they?” I was so mad and shocked, I had to walk away. What child would not want to have friends? Why can’t they make friends outside of school? It amazes me that someone would actually think a thought like that.
Thanks for listening to the rant!


I am a stay at home Mom, I homeschool my 3 boys.

This is our fourth year.
The socialization question comes up constantly in conversations.
I tell people, my kids do not learn prejudice.
They do not pick up bad manners.
They do not have to fear.
They do not learn to fight, nor do they miss out on ridicule from peers.
My 5 year old is “peach” and the kid down the street is “brown” and amazingly enough, so is his whole family.
They do have interaction with others, of their choice.
Frankly, they are more educated than the public school kids, and their interests are not the same.

I tell people about my house being right next to the bus stop and how I hear elementary kids getting off of the bus and how they talk, it is shocking to hear an 8 year old curse at the bus driver.

I encourage them to venture out to meet other kids, but they would rather amuse themselves, they have each other. They tell me other kids are mean.

I have much more on the subject of Homeschooling.
I do get stressed at times. I have a 5 year old, 8 year old and 11 year old. My 11 year old is reading on 11th grade level, 8 year old is on about 6th grade level and 5 year old is just starting.

Thanks for your time,

“You must not have any friends; I bet you get lonely.”

As for questions that people ask and how we respond, my eighteen year old son did a pretty good job while at the dentist getting his teeth cleaned. When the hygienist learned that he was homeschooled, she commented, “You must not have any friends; I bet you get lonely.” Appalled at the rudeness of her remark, he replied, “No, I don’t have any friends…. you’re my only friend.” Well, needless to say, he took a beating on his gums. For once, though, I didn’t scold him for being witty. My son is known as the “social butterfly” in our homeschool area. On his own, he has gotten involved in virtually every youth group in the area, volunteers to help set up and clean up at these groups, and also plays his guitar as part of the worship teams for these meetings (by the way, he is a self taught and quite accomplished pianist, guitarist, and bass guitarist). He has many friends who were not homeschooled who have been thoroughly “socialized,” with many regrets. He is always telling me how grateful he is that he was homeschooled and never had to deal with the issues that some of his friends had to deal with at such young ages. He is a very confident young man, as well as very respectful of those in authority. I have no regrets, and my biggest compliment and assurance that homeschooling is best for kids, is my son’s appreciation of this choice his parents made (as well as my other children’s).

Thanks for a great website!

“Aren’t you afraid your boys won’t fit in and be with the in crowd because of what your doing to them?”

My neighbor came to me the other day and saw me working with my boys and asked to speak with me so I walked over to where she was standing and listened to what she had to say…<All the while knowing something I really didn’t want to hear was going to come out her mouth> She said “Aren’t you afraid your boys won’t fit in and be with the in crowd because of what your doing to them?” I said to her with a smile on my face and a very calm voice “Aren’t you afraid yours will?” Well, she looked at me with wide eyes and made a grunt noise like a bull, turned around and walked out of my garage.

Just wanted to share this with you 🙂

She informed me that I really need to expose my kids to more germs on a regular basis so that they don’t get sick “when they are around people.”

Great site.  I’ve been homeschooling my 4 kids since birth.  My sister, always quietly criticizing my choice to homeschool recently made this remark. After letting her know that my kids got sick over the holidays, she informed me that I really need to expose my kids to more germs on a regular basis so that they don’t get sick “when they are around people,” I have yet to respond. Maybe others would also find that comment amusing.

Judi D

Through it all, I decided that from now on when I am asked “How do you plan to socialize your child?” I will answer simply “Properly”.

This weekend, at the conference, I was engaged in conversations about socialization, about being asked about it, how to explain it, etc. etc. and also sat in workshops/seminars where that topic was discussed. At the same conference there were about 100 teenagers, all homeschooled for most or all of their lives – they had none of the “affectedness” of kids subject to peer pressure, all of them seemed confident, mature and highly skilled in social graces. I envied them and thought how different I would have been had I been homeschooled – no pressure to conform, “be” this or that, have a certain “look”, wear the “accepted” styles, and so on. Their language was not peppered with expletives, none of them appeared to be smokers, the “devil-may-care” facade was absent….and on and on.

Through it all, I decided that from now on when I am asked “How do you plan to socialize your child?” I will answer simply “Properly”.

Lyn K.
Ontario Canada

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