Saturday 2 July 2011

Socialisation ??

Why is this the number one question when we home school ?  To be honest I am no longer asked this question because I have teenagers in the house (who by the way between them have over 580 friends) To be honest my biggest challenge is having too much socialisation going on and not enough time for school some days!

All right I'll be honest it worried me to death when I first contemplated the idea of home schooling fourteen years ago, and now I face the new challenge of homeschooling a 'single' child at home.  Sir N is 12 and 10 years younger than his siblings who are now at Uni and working part time which effectually makes him an "only" child at home. Even though I know all the theory of social issues and children at home it does give me a few moments of anxiety.  But God in His graciousness has given me a home school friend in the same situation as I am so together we will walk this new road together.
You are not alone in the way you feel. One of the biggest fears with home schooling is the 'social' issue. It's the number one question always asked.

Socialisation in the context of school  
School is the only social situation where people of identical age are put into one room and that is considered "healthy" ?? socialization. The scripture that comes to mind is:  The companion of fools brings destruction. Wisdom and understanding come with age.

I just read Homeschooling and the Myth of Socialisation by Manfred B Zysk and really enjoyed this statement:
A family member asked my wife, "Aren't you concerned about his (our son's) socialization with other kids?". My wife gave this response: "Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate." 

Socialization in the Home school environment

In the home school environment I discovered most advocate cross age socialization. In other words our children learn to communicate with those older then them IE leaders at church, leaders at gymnastics, those in charge when we go on extra mural activities etc, they learn to communicate with those that are younger at the same time because inevitably there are younger siblings present and they need to learn to be patient and understanding of these children.
Once we begin homeschooling we often link up with like minded families and when you meet together your child will be socializing amongst a wide range of ages all at the same time which is more like the real world than school could ever prepare us for. Another advantage to this model is that because your child is surrounded by a higher adult to child ratio than at school they grow and mature and learn correct social norms from mature wise adults carefully chosen by you and your spouse.

Definitions of Socialization

An interesting thing to do is research is the word socialization:
  • 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. (Socialization)
  • The adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture; "the socialization of children to the norms of their culture"
  • Socialization (or socialisation) is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. It may provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; a society develops a culture through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.
 Some questions to answer ?
  • Why is it important to me that my child learn the social culture of school ?
  • What is the social culture that school is dominated by ? 
  • Is this something I want for my child ? If so then why ?
  • What does the word of God have to say about this?

Three scriptures that come to mind are:
  • Bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
  • Make no friendships with a man given to anger, and with a wrathful man do not associate, Lest you learn his ways and get yourself into a snare.(Proverbs 22: 24-25)
I highly recommend Sally and Clay Clarkson's book: Educating the WholeHearted child.  Clay has a fantastic comparison chart of socialization in the school setting versus socialization in the home school environment.  This chart is ultimately the thing that settled my nerves and made me happy and comfortable with the whole home school and socialization issue.

Articles of interest:
I would love to hear your take on socialization and how you arrived at your conclusions.  If you have blogged on this topic leave your web address so I can have a read.
I would also like to hear from home educators with one child ☺



    1. Interesting read! It will sure open the minds of those who are always asking that question. I as a grandmother too have been frequently asked that "What about mixing with other children?" The home is where yout train up a child in the way he should go not at school. School is where you learn what 1=1 is! If you want to nurture the rose bush to bloom beautiful flowers one has to look after it 24 hrs a day and scripture says in Deut11:19 And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up 21. That your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them. As long as the heavens are above the earth.
      This is where your children get the most precious grounding and that is in the home.

    2. Hi there, my wife told me about the blogpost and while I agree on almost all of your points I feel that there is 1 single important point not covered here.

      How to deal with Rejection/Bullies.

      I was bullied a great deal in school and it taught me a lot about how to read people and how to react to many situations. Home schooled children are sheltered from this. Although the "theory" of how to deal with being rejected by a certain groups/people can be taught, only once this has been put into practice and overcome do I think that the child has "learnt the lesson".

      I suppose that this could also be applied to things like peer pressure also. Although we aim to teach our children what is right and what is wrong, it’s only once they have been presented with the situation and overcome it in a way that we deem "correct" that the lesson has been learned.

      Sadly the town in which we live has very little "after school" activities for kids to do if they are not enrolled at a school. Even if you can organise for your kids to take part at a nearby school, the other kids often view them as "the homeschool kids" and they are never truly part of the team. They are always viewed as the outsiders. I understand that this situation could be used to argue my first point, that the parents could expose kids to "partial rejection" and control the situation but character development comes from facing people that you don't get on with on a daily basis and learning to deal with it.

      Did I enjoy school? No. Am I still friends with any school friends that are my age? Only a tiny number. Am I glad that my parents forced me to deal with the situation and learn from them? Yes.

      I will definitely track down the books you have recommended and look into them. My wife is incredibly passionate about home schooling my daughter and I have no doubts that she would make a great success of it. This "socialization" point is the only thing holding me back. I have pre-registered my daughter at a school in the meanwhile, but we are looking into all the options available. Thanks for the great post

    3. I agree with you Steven.

      I have found that over the years children encounter bullies and rejection anyway.

      Homeschooling does in no way exempt them from experiencing bullies and rejection as you get that every where and anywhere you go unfortunately even in homeschool circles.
      Sadly my children have both experienced this.

      I will be back to post more of a reply to your comment later this week.

    4. I read with interest your thoughts and those of the people who have responded to them re: socialisation in the homeschool. I have been homeschooling for 6 years now and have experience with school socialisation and homeschool socialision as my children were at school before being homeschooled. Children do learn how to deal with rejection in the homeschooled environment . There are many children who are homeschooled that don't click and there are some who are just down right nasty and mean. Ask one of my children who went to a homeschool event and came home with stitches in her head! My children have learnt to be able to read people, not just their same aged peers and they have also learnt that they can get along with adults and older / younger children. They very quickly learned how to see through a condescending adult or an insincere " friend" who would lead them down the garden path. Very valuable life skills I am sure you will agree. When they were at school my kids were forced into false social situations - i.e. : playing with a bunch of same aged peers that they have not much in common with. What did they learn ? Conform or be ostracised. Now they have learnt that it is OK not to get along with someone, OK to be yourself, OK to move on and find someone else to hang with. They learnt it is OK to be themselves.It irks me when people trot out the old bullying makes you stronger/better/more able line. Bullying makes you weak, it makes you doubt yourself, it errodes your self esteeme and leaves you deflated and questioning if who you really are, if your authentic self is worthy or needs to be changed in order to fit in. Did I make a conscious effort to offer the children opportunities to meet and socialise with other kids when we began homeschooling? Yes. Do I still have to make that effort ? No.They seek out and make social contacts of their own. Real ones too , with people not with 345 " friends " on Facebook. Real, living, breathing people. Why is it then that the perception is that homeschooled kids are locked in the house and only allowed to mix with those their parents choose for them ? My kids do have outside interests and mix with kids from schooled backgrounds . They are involved in sporting clubs and community groups. I have seen and experienced large numbers of schooled kids that mine come into contact with. Kids who think nothing of gossiping about s#x and who is doing it ( at 13 gasp)and actively discussing when they will start - apparently it is cool to be doing it - all the kids are - what is wrong with you if you are not ? Are you some kind of freak ? Kids who look up the fight at the local school that has been uploaded to you tube and kids who think nothing of being really disrespectful to their parents and teachers. When this happens as it did just last week at the end of season sporting break up my kids come home and gain respite from this rot,but at school it is ceaseless and the messages to conform and be like them are relentless. At home the message is loud and clear - march to the beat of your own drum. So long as you are being true to yourself and not hurting anyone in the process all is good. No thanks. I'll take my homeschooled socialised kids any day !

    5. this socialisation. The lessons Steve hopes his child will learn are not worth the OTHER “lessons” and defilements the child will pick up at school in the meantime. In addition, such lessons as he’s concerned about are virtually irrelevant among adults. Children should not be exposed to that kind of treatment and therefore should not have to develop such coping strategies (this is what I’d call them, rather than lessons).

      Dr Raymond Moore used to say that a bad home is still better than a good institution. I totally agree. With our 8 children, the best benefit is that we’ve been able to strictly control who and when our children associated with. We are constantly becoming more and more strict. And even our children AGREE with our philosophy. Of course, we need to provide plenty of purposeful activities for them and do not allow them to ever get the idea that a child’s life should be all fun, games, entertainment and amusement. Read a few good biographies from 100 years ago and more and our concerns of today simply evaporate as silly concerns.

      In His Service

    6. Hi Steven, I would like to give my "two cents worth".
      I was also bullied at school and experienced a lot of initiation the way it was then. The initiation was intended to bring out the qualities I think you are talking about and in most cases it did but there were senior boys, and even my best friend, who took matters into their own hands at times and it is the effect of some of those choices that still haunt me today(and I am over 40). Indeed I chose to do many "cool" things due to peer pressure that were just not cool at all and I would never have entertained them had i been in a more protective environment.
      Bullying causes intimidation and insecurity and may encourage young (and even older people later on) to make wrong choices like alcohol and drug abuse and even suicide. Bullying can not benefit any part of socialisation in a positive way.
      As parents we are charged with the scripture to "bring up a child in the way (he) should go and when (he) is old he will not depart from it". Here an analogy springs to mind; You would never expect a child to carry a heavy suitcase as they would just not cope. Their time will come when they are strong enough to carry it, and the same applies to the big world out there with all it's misgivings.
      The institution of schooling is only a few hundred years old and it really gives parents an excuse to relinquish their responsibility of raising their own children. (This may have been necessary during wars etc.), but if we have the choice why would we not want the best for our kids. I am sounding quite derogatory towards schools and I'm certain that there are many good ones and wonderfully dedicated teachers but if there are problems the ratio is 1:30 not 1:1! A home schooled child can be given rope or reeled in according to their strengths and weaknesses but one in a class of 30 is like a cork in the ocean who may well look to their class mates for acceptance when they can not keep up or feel insecure. A child who is being held back also becomes frustrated and gets up to mischief just the same.
      Todays technological age has new problems like cyber bullying and numerous young people in our area have taken their own lives because of it. One can't help thinking that if there was some security from this early exposure that it might not happen.
      As a Christian I for one am asked to be set apart from the crowd. (Luke 9:23-25"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"). This can be very difficult some times, especially when we are ridiculed for it but I guess the rewards are great. I suppose home schooling is a little like this in that we might stand out as odd balls.
      I hope you don't feel "preached" to but think about our pre-conceptions as "schooled" people then throw them up in the air and catch the ones that will give your child the very best. Protect them while you can. They have their whole lives ahead of them to learn about what the world has to offer.

    7. Hi everyone,

      Thanks for the responses.

      I would like to preface my responses with the following statements. I take my hat off to people that are brave enough lead the field in an area such as Home Schooling. I am not sure in which part of the world you all live, but homeschooling in South Africa is still in it infancy. There are so few 'truly' homeschooled children in South Africa. Many people claim that their kids are homeschooled because the teaching is taking place within someone's home, yet there are other children there. Surely this is just another form of standard schooling with a much lower student to teacher ratio. I have pre-enrolled my daughter at a private school with a very low student to teacher ratio and I know many of teachers at this school and I am very aware of this history and successes. "Socializing" a homeschooled child in South Africa would be a massive challenge since we don't have "sporting clubs and community groups" as mentioned by kymatt in our town at the moment. I do base a lot of my perceptions on things I have seen happen to homeschooled kids that I knew. There are only 2 or 3 that have integrated easily at a Tertiary level with becoming stoners/alcoholics/getting pregnant also immedaitely. All the kids were from very good Christian homes. On the flipside of the coin, I have also seen people that have had great success. Their kids, however, did not go to university or college. They studied through corrospondence courses and went straight into their respective careers.

      @kymatt: I wholeheartedly disagree that bullying makes you weak. It only makes you weak if you give in and conform and change to "obey" the social norms. Your self-esteem may be low for a while but in the long run it makes you so much stronger. If you were also bullied and did not give in to them then it should've empowered you once they they finally gave in. In my last year of school, myself and one of my worst tormentors found ourselves in a position of leadership together and he actually had the guts to apologize to me for everything that he had done and how wrong he was for trying to force me to conform. Do I bare the emotional scares of certain things said against me? Yes. Does it empower me to know that I have conquered everyone that tried to break me down? YES! My perception of homeschooled kids being at home is based on my experience in the area in which I live. As I said above, there are very few other options in our town and a friend has been homeschooling her daughter. The friends she has, she has met through her brother and his friends. Her brother went to a "normal" school for want of a better phrase. I get the sense that you are very passionate about home schooling and please do not feel I am attacking your way of life or the social skills of your children. You are in an incredibly lucky position that there are other avenues for your kids to pursue in local sporting clubs etc, sadly we do not have that priviledge. Was there Sex, Fights and Drugs at my high school? Yip, I went to an all boys high school. I believe thats all I need to say about that matter ;) But my parents had given me a set of values that I stuck to. They would constantly speak to me about what was happening and I watched guys think they were awesome until those consquences hit them and that lesson was so much more important than the 'theory' of a consquence.

    8. @Craig: You do have a point there in that exposing them to evil negates the benefit of the good things that they will learn. My worry is that by the time my daughter is old enough to decide she wants to go a university thats far from home, that she will probably need to deal with real group peer pressure for the first time. The peer pressure of a group of 9 years olds vs the peer pressure of 19 years are worlds apart. Learning to deal with peer pressure and tough situations are easier when you know you going home to a loving and safe environment every night where you can discuss what happened. If she decides to go to a university far away then she will not have that "safe place". All things in moderation.

      @Anonymous: I do not feel preached to at all :) I am interested in people's views on this which is why I am commenting on the blog :)

      There is still a LOT that I need to read up on and research. My daughter is only 18months old but I feel that this is something important that needs to be decided and researched thoroughly. I am trying to find The Clarkson's book "Educating the Wholehearted Child" but it looks like I may need to import it. (yay for import taxes and shipping fees) Please do not feel that I am disregarding any comments because of my rebuttle, I am simply disagreeing with selective points BUT I am taking all your comments to heart.

      Thanks everyone :)

    9. Steven Mc Donald said...
      @Craig: You do have a point there in that exposing them to evil negates the benefit of the good things that they will learn. My worry is that by the time my daughter is old enough to decide she wants to go a university thats far from home, that she will probably need to deal with real group peer pressure for the first time. The peer pressure of a group of 9 years olds vs the peer pressure of 19 years are worlds apart. Learning to deal with peer pressure and tough situations are easier when you know you going home to a loving and safe environment every night where you can discuss what happened. If she decides to go to a university far away then she will not have that "safe place". All things in moderation.

      My response:I see your point about knowing how to deal with peer pressure. And yes, the peer pressure of a group of 9yos is sure a lot different than the peer pressure of a group of 19yos. But here is the point: both types of peer pressure are almost exclusively negative and unprofitable and unedifying. So who needs it? That is, why plan for putting her into such situations? Is it needful or even necessary? Maybe re-think the university scenario for your dear daughter’s future. 95% or more of our daughters are going to WANT to be wives and mothers and homemakers. These three career choices have been targeted by enemies of Christian families and Christian morality to be grossly and most unjustifiably maligned for decades now, in an effort to create dissatisfaction with the highest callings, generally speaking, a woman could have. And these enemies have been very successful in their objective. My daughters saw this (I didn’t) and put aside their careers, at least for a season they said, in order to come home and master as much of these skills as they could. Both got snapped up before they could get back to their careers by two of the most godly Prince Charmings, men of solid gold characters, impeccable morals and stirling reputations, who were looking for wives who could match them in raw talent, intellectually and theologically and outdo them in commitment to raising the next generation as soldiers of the cross to take over the society and culture from the ground up. I’m telling you, I didn’t think they made men like that any more, yet here our family ends up with TWO of them for sons in laws!! All I can put it down to is the faithfulness of the Lord is surpassing the dreams of those who try to be faithful to Him and His blueprints in the Scriptures.

      Perhaps I got a bit off topic. Pardon me. We dealt with the peer pressure thing by raising our children NOT to just cope with this bad old world out there, but to aggressively go for it with the idea of turning it back round the right way. Moderation? When I was a thorough-going hedonist in the California of the 1960s, I can assure you, such ideas were anathema. Since being converted to Christ as King and living here in sleepy old New Zealand, the idea is also unappetising but for the opposite reason. Let me illustrate. My daughter came to me one day, a turning point it was for us, with the observation that, “You know dad, we home school, we go to church twice on Sundays, we dress very modestly, we wear hats to church, we don’t have a TV…no matter what we do, everyone already thinks we’re so weird, you know what I’ve decided? We might as well go for gold!” Man, I signed up for that philosophy on the spot, and I am here to tell you, it has been so liberating and so much fun ever since, I simply cannot recommend highly enough for everyone to take on a similar commitment to Christ Jesus the King!

    10. You see, its that 5% gap that *if* she decideds to head to university that scares me ;)

    11. What interesting reading on every one's comments. What I have noticed from it that there is worry about the tomorrows and not the present.
      What about the present one would ask? Good advice is… enjoy your children while they are small and while you grooming them for their future! Teach them in the way they should go. That is God's way and not our way. God has placed our children in our care to look after them and protect them while they growing up!

      I have noticed there is a lot of emphasis on outside activities and sport for a child while home-schooling. If you in a small community as a parent get yourself involved in what they have yourself then take your children with you to enjoy and this is where your child will develop social skills mixing with others and enjoy the outside activities of sport. As the saying goes “God will find a way when you seem to think there is no other way” God always opens doors and if you to home school God will open your pathway for you and your child to walk in.
      As for bulling…One can send your child to a Christian school and still get bullied and taught incorrectly.
      Bulling does not make one stronger it causes a lot of very hurtful scars which can be damaging for life. We are all unique and not everyone has a coping mechanism that can just brush it off and carry on. Many a child has taken their life because of bulling. We had one not so long ago in a Christian school.
      I am also talking from experience from one of my children who was bullied by another child and then one was even bullied by a teacher and that had a shocking effect on all our lives not just the child. As a parent it can be very heart breaking while you watch your child suffering from nastiness of another person. There have been many a parent who have not had the support where they can get help in situations that they in, me being one of them.
      What I can say Steve is protect your wee one from the harsh elements of this world today, It is changing rapidly. Teach about Jesus go to the book of Proverbs and it will show you there! God's word is pure and just. Stop worrying about the what if's and take it to the Lord in prayer. God will give you the discernment in what to do with your teaching of your child. Listen to your wife that is why God placed her in your life to be a mother and teacher to your children. God will guide her in everything she does with her and your future children. Support your wife but together in prayer. Also maybe this is God talking to you to protect your child by home-schooling her. The world and it’s modern technology is not a very savoury place, a lot of sadness. Maybe God has brought you to this site to see that home-schooling might just be the answer for you and your family. There is a lot of support out there and wonderful Christian learning aids for home-schooling take advantage of it. The end results is well worth it and the experience of seeing your child grow in the Lord from home-schooling will be your great reward.
      Remember this from Gods word.
      Matthew 5:25 Therefore I tell you stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life. God will look after His children but you need to teach them the word it is far more important than running up and down a sport field and yes it's life and what the world seems to think is important but right now keep your focus on what is right by what God tells you in His word, train up your child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it!.


    I love to hear from you so please leave your comments below ♥