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Do Home Schooled Kids Lack Social Skills

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When I speak to other parents who have chosen not to home school their kids, the most common argument I hear is the issue of socialization. “I don’t want my kids to be weird and awkward when they grow up.” This is the sentiment I hear in one way or another. No one wants their child to be struggling socially as they get older. Our society and workplace celebrate our social ties and relationships. That’s why the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” exists. When it comes to navigating the workplace and knowing how to move ahead in the corporate world, social skills come in handy. Having a wide social net is what gets candidate in front of an interviewer to begin with. Social skills equal a better job and a secure future.

But what are social skills? Are the social skills taught in school the ones needed in real life? Is the school environment a true training ground when it doesn’t mirror reality and kids don’t have as much time to socialize? Can home school provide better social skills training?

The School Structure is Limited in Socializing Students

Social skills, as it applies to the work place, mean interaction with people from different generations. Does being grouped with people from all other backgrounds (religious and of differing abilities and interests), and being forced to interact with them because you are all the same age, really serve as a model of preparation for work place interaction? Not really. When you’re separated by age it can even serve to infantilize children from adults even more. Children don’t learn to interact with adults in a more normal equal way. Because the school grade system separates children based on ages, it only helps in separating people and making it harder for children to think outside of generational differences when socializing as they get older. Children will go through their childhood only learning to interact with people their own age, then attend university to only continue with the same interactions. This doesn’t mirror real life at all.

Public School Versus Real Life

Once you graduate, you will be more inclined to pick your friends from your faith, interests, or job. You will enter a job where there are older and younger people. You can pick your job and part of career success is picking a field where you find people you resonate with. For instance in university, my friend had been studying mechanical engineering for his undergraduate degree, but switched to computer systems for his masters. Why did he do this? “I thought the mechanical engineers I met were all jerks and liked the computer geeks better. I was more geeky and couldn’t identify with the personalities of the engineering students.” We’re always picking where we belong in life. The only ones who don’t get this choice are the kids in public school. With homeschooling you can begin earlier and with people of various ages, as is mirrored in real life.

Public School Socialization Can Equal Peer Pressure

Does public school teach children bad socialization? Putting together children from different backgrounds, religions, and values, can be a growth opportunity for children, but some may argue that it can also serve as a breeding ground for negative peer pressure. We all have our memories from high school. The students who were smarter, more studious, and more responsible weren’t necessarily the most popular. Herd mentality keeps some excellent students from rising too far above mediocrity. They don’t want to be the outliers. If they receive too much attention for their high grades, or always know the answers, they might become targets for bullying. How does trying to fit in, while not living up to their potential, help students succeed later on?

Kids in Public Schools No Longer Have Time to Socialize

So if you still think the socialization that public school offers has its merits, ask yourself if they will even have the time to socialize. Now that public schools are increasingly cutting music and arts classes, as well as limiting recess time (or cutting it out completely), children hardly get the time for making friends organically. As the standardized testing demands more from schools, some have started to cut out the extra unstructured time to add more structured classroom hours.

How Home Schooling Better Teaches Social Skills

With home schooling, children aren’t separated from other kids and taught to think of people generationally. Though each home schoolers’ experience can differ, most home schooling groups are based on shared interests and subjects. You’ll see groups of children from all ages together. Being home schooled also allows for more time spent on outside interests such as dance class, art class, and group band classes. These are all things that can open the door for your children to develop organic friendships through shared interests, and with different age groups. When it comes to many of my friends who decided to homeschool, it mostly came down to their children having so many interests and so little time outside of normal school hours to pursue those interests. It’s no coincidence that the most bright and talented students have been pulled out of school to pursue their dreams unencumbered by the school’s schedule.

Children in a home school environment may be a little sheltered from the bullying and school yard politics of public school, but do they really need to experience this environment to be considered socialized? When your child finally joins the work force, is it more important that they know how to get along really well with coworkers their own age or all ages? Should they be comfortable working the same amount as everyone else or being able to shine in their position? Employers today are looking for employees who can work independently, are self driven, and who have social skills. Yes, it’s important to have socialized children, but don’t believe the old hype about unsocialized home schoolers. With the way schools have been changing to fit with standardized testing maybe the question should really be, “Do Public School Kids Lack Social Skills?”

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