I was recently inspired to blog about the whole “Socialization” controversy that tends to “attack” home schooling families.  Its always funny to me when I get asked why do we home school?  I have to laugh; because, if you have home schooled for any amount of time at all… boy… that question is opening a whole can of worms… isn’t it!  It is not a simple answer, at all.  In fact, its probably one of the hardest questions my husband and I have ever made… or at least it seemed like it at the time.  Now home schooling is just our way of life.  It’s part of our family culture… part of our identity if you will.

So to start of this concise opinion on socialization here is my disclaimer… remember this is merely my opinion, based on observation, experience, research & reading… but still just my opinion.

Here’s the definition of Socialization from Dictionary.com:

so·cial·i·za·tion

[soh-shuh-luhzey-shuhn] noun

1. 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.

2. the act or process of making socialistic: the socialization of industry.

There it is folks… clearly by definition I do not want my children to be conformed to the pattern of the “Oregon, liberal public educational system/government/western adulterous culture” but rather “transformed by the renewing of their mind. Then “they”will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom 12.  When someone asks me:”what about Socialization?”  I say… have you seen a room full of public schooled 11 year olds?  I hope & pray my daughter doesn’t “acquire her personal identity and learn the norms, values, & behavior and social skills deemed normal” from that environment!  

When in a discussion about socialization, I like to ask this question:  “Do you only have friends that are 29 or 35(whatever your age is)?  Do you only work with people your age?”  Of course not, in my opinion segregation of ages in schools is not preparing the children for the real world in regards to “socialization.”  If school is “socially preparing children for the real world”  then how come seniors make fun of and ignore the freshman?  How come the 6th graders won’t play with the 3rd graders?  In the real world the Montessori Method of age integration is much healthier for preparing children to work with all kinds of people of different ages and be able to adapt to work with different levels of learners as well as people.

Schools do indoctrinate our children and peers do influence them as well. I fully admit I am indoctrinating & influencing my children… oh yes, and by God’s good graces… hopefully they will grow up to be like-minded brothers and sister in Christ. 

Another argument: Don’t you want them to be able to have conversations with people in the real world?  And not be awkward?

My rebuttal: The home schooled children I know are the most well adjusted, capable of having conversations with any age (not just their own given age), and the most respectful too I might add.  It is all to common even amongst private schooled children, for children to disrespect authority or elders. If I might be bold enough to say… it is rare to find schooled children who can make eye contact with another adult and engage them in conversation because they honestly want to.  This has not been my experience in the home school community.  To end this rebuttal… the only thing odd about my children is that they can have a conversation with anyone of any age.  Since I know I am not the only who notices that 12 year olds have difficulty even “caring” to talk to their friends moms… I have a opposing question to ask… is “not being awkward” mean they should have a bad attitude?  Or that if they can play with a 5 year old there must be something wrong with them?  While I firmly believe that respect for authority can be taught to children in school as well because it is a reflection parents caring to teach it, but clearly children are impressionable and are greatly influenced 30-40 hours per week while with peers (which is the bulk of their awake hours). You have to teach and train your children not to have selfishness and disrespect bound up in their hearts… over and over again… you have to confront not so easy issues… over and over again. Not all home schooling families do this either. But this is why socialization by a school environment doesn’t work for our family!  :)
Another argument I hear about socialization is well don’t you want your kids to fit in the world?

This question to me says: don’t you want your kids to “look like” the rest of the kids out there… for them to be “normal”?

My Clear answer: Ummm… NO!  I do not want my children to be like everyone else.  I am not impressed by the fruit I am seeing in the Jr. highs or the high school for that matter {there are those occasions when I meet a young person who impresses me, but honestly… it is not the majority}.  I pray they don’t turn out like the rest of the world.  I think all of us parents would think this if we looked at the world through our “Father’s eyes.”

Socialization – who they spend their time with and conform to- is a form of education- often called “peer education.”  If socialization, by definition, trains and teaches children their social status… then I am against it. I want my children to dream~to think big~to focus on learning God’s will for their life and pursuing to follow Him in obedience! If the “social status” labeled him/her by other immature and honestly self-focused peers is the main cause and effect of socialization… I think I will opt out for now. While my children are young… I think I will let them dream and be creative. I am socializing my children to one another, our family and other like-minded people who live with integrity and conviction… I sure hope they pick up some of that “indoctrination.”  It’s part of the point.  Socialization is not a problem, we got it “under control, ” with plenty of the right kind!  :) Then once each child reaches a level of maturity in their faith and convictions, equipped to stand against 15 peers/collegues opposing them and putting limitations on them they may have a better chance of standing strong and confident… 

Ultimately, every family needs to really evaluate what works for their family and what God’s path is for them. We have to be people of conviction… not to argue and fight… but because our convictions influence our actions. Decide to confidently move forward without imposing those convictions on others.