The title of my book, It’s Homeschooling, Not Solitary Confinement, came from a homeschool meme I made on our Homeschool Super Freak Facebook page. Robin (from Batman and Robin) is asking the big, green Hulk, “But if you homeschool how will your kids get socialization?” And the Hulk, fists clenched, is barking back, “It’s homeschooling, not solitary confinement!”
If you’ve been homeschooling for some time, you’re probably chuckling a little at this right now. If you’re just now considering homeschooling, you’ll get our collective eye roll soon enough because that panicked look from people and the question “How will you ever socialize your child?” is one of the most frequent questions that we get from those who don’t understand homeschooling. (“It’s homeschooling, not solitary confinement!” is one of my favorite and frequent retorts. You should try it, too!)
Effects of Homeschooling on Socialization
When people make this comment, it’s difficult to know if they really mean socialized or socialization. According to Dictionary.com, socialized means “to associate or mingle sociably with others,” while socialization means “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” I’m guessing that people really mean socialization, but both are relevant to the discussion of homeschooling. What I think people really mean is some form of “How will your child ever learn to interact with others?”
This may be one of your own concerns if you’re just now researching the homeschooling option. To be honest, it was a big concern for me before I truly understood the homeschooling process. How will I make sure that my social butterfly is being fulfilled and that she fits into society? It weighed on my mind until I came to a full understanding that I control what I do in homeschooling and how my child learns, including when to be with other kids in group learning situations like play dates or classes outside of the home. You have that full control, too. If you’re like most homeschooling families, your kids will have a great deal of group learning opportunities outside of the home.
Supplementing Your Homeschooling
We are blessed to live in an area that has ample opportunities for classes outside of the home. The local library now offers a full schedule of different homeschool classes, from writing and math to art and foreign languages. We also have several opportunities to join nature or farm schools that teach kids about wilderness, farm life, and being outside.
You will probably have the same kind of opportunities in your area—no matter where you live (even if you have to drive to find them)! Maybe your child isn’t interested in farming, but maybe she is interested in cooking, or art, or architecture, or robotics. As a homeschooling parent, it’s your responsibility to match at-home learning and outside learning to your child’s interests and your child’s learning style. As a homeschooling parent, I have the freedom to supplement her learning as I see fit and so do you. You have that freedom! Don’t forget to use it!
This post is a partial excerpt from the book, It’s Homeschool, Not Solitary Confinement: Busting the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About Homeschooling. A version of this post originally appeared on HomeschoolSuperFreak.com.