Ahhhh, the dreaded question. All homeschoolers face this question at some point either from themselves, their spouse, well-meaning relatives or ‘concerned friends’. To answer this question one must first understand what socialization is. Webster’s College Dictionary defines socialization as “a continuing process whereby an individual learns and assimilates the values and behavior patterns appropriate to his or her culture and social position”. As parents we are all very concerned about how our children acquire their “values and behavior patterns”. It is generally thought in our society that a child is not socialized unless he/she has attended public school. However, that idea isn’t in line with the definition of socialization. Let’s think about how we as adults socialize. Do you always hang out with friends that are the same age as you? When have you learned the most, when you are with same-age peers or when you’ve socialized with people from a variety of backgrounds and ages? The same can be said of our children. They can benefit from a homeschool social scene. Most homeschool groups are comprised of young people from a variety of ages and backgrounds. Older students learn to get along with and care for the younger ones. Compare that with the attitude displayed in public school where the Freshman are made fun of simply because of their age and grade level. Additionally, homeschool students receive socialization by being in public places such as libraries, parks and stores. The majority of our lives are spent in these real life social situations, not the artificially created social scenes of public school.
There are many things you can do to ensure that your student has interaction other than family members. The best method is to seek out other homeschoolers. Look for homeschool groups in your area. Talk to parents at parks. Many public park recreation departments have classes that your students can participate in. There are 4-H clubs, music classes, dance classes, horseback riding etc. Even more can be done when participating in a volunteer work. Teens, especially, can volunteer at a local museum. Visit all sorts of places on field trips and you will be exposed to a plethora of situations where your students can “assimilates the values and behavior patterns appropriate to his or her culture and social position”.
So if someone asks you as a homeschooler, “What about socialization?” you can answer with confidence “Got that taken care of, thank you!”
http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/human-relations/56224.html (article with some quoted research)
http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html (a little more research)