Sunday, December 16, 2012

Homeschooling and Socialization

I was reading a post called "The Results of Homeschool Mis-Socialization" on Libby Anne's blog called Love, Joy, and Feminism. Libby Anne was homeschooled under a fairly standard Christian homeschool method: lots of interaction with the church, lessons at home, great "extra-curricular" opportunities, and a fairly large social group. But Libby Anne reports that, upon starting college, she was terrified of the kids on campus. She felt unprepared to feel a part of the group of students and, further, she felt that she performed poorly in school as a result of that.

I know that many homeschoolers would bristle at the idea that homeschooling played a part in her claim of having not been adequately socialized and prepared for college. But Libby Anne feels she was "well-socialized in homeschool circles but not beyond them." With an acknowledgement that this is Libby Anne's story and, therefore, her prerogative and right to make sense of her life in her own way, it does seem that homeschooling parents have something to learn from her.
I have seen my children roll their eyes and say "BUSES!" when we pull into a parking lot of a museum or zoo or other public place that has a group of public schoolers in attendance. My kids have often criticized public schoolers for rudeness and overall disruptive behavior in public places and prefer to not have to deal with that. Still, does this mean that my kids wouldn't know how to interact with groups of public schoolers?
And, just as a thought I am having at this moment, 
how do public schoolers generally do 
in a room full of homeschoolers?  
I can recall co op events  back home
that public schoolers attended...
I wonder how they perceived the event...?

ANYWAY, my point in bringing this up on my blog is that I am completely willing to find ways for my daughter and son to hang out with non-homeschool kids if they would need this for some reason. At the moment, though, Elizabeth is in an acting group in which she is the only homeschooler. In the group, she tends to stand out for being a homeschooler, as well standing out as an American as well. She enjoys her "stand out" status, and more to the point, she feels very comfortable and confident in that setting.  She doesn't feel the slightest bit frightened or uncomfortable. Or unprepared... 
In the past, though, Lizzie has gone to a public school and she was treated unkindly and oddly and not pleasantly. So her expectations do tend to be that a group of public-schooled kids can be difficult to "break into". This is not because she doesn't have the skills to engage with the children, but because of the struggle of public-schooled individuals to make their own decisions in groups. Individually, Elizabeth reports, it is usually a matter of personality when making friends or not making friends, rather than any perceived different from schooling choices.

Today, as "going to community college" nears for my daughter, Libby Anne's blog post gave me an idea. Elizabeth might prefer going to school for a visit or three with friends who are already on campus, maybe learn the ropes, find her way around...
In any case, I appreciate Libby Anne's honestly and openness with her struggles and I wish her well!

What do you think?

If you like this post, you might try this one:
Nine Disadvantages of Homeschooling

How I Planned to be as a Parent


  1. I would like to know how the two are different in her eyes. I know how they are different in mine and why I prefer the homeschool environment over the public school environment. What exactly caused her to fear the students? I'm sure over the course of her 18 years at home she knew and interacted with kids from public school, unless her neighbors were homeschoolers and she was forbidden from interacting with kids who weren't homeschooled (I find that hard to believe...not to say it doesn't happen, but it's rare).

    It seems like there is something deeper here. Either way I'll take my chances and if my kids fail at college then I'll be there to help them figure out which course of action to take next so they can enjoy their life. College isn't the end all to be all of life. Just like public school isn't the only way to ensure your kids come out "normal".

    1. I'm thinking her fear may have been more of a personal anxiety than a socialization issue, but that is my two cents from waaaaaaaaaay over here.

  2. What interesting thoughts. My daughter is in possession of 4 college acceptance letters and is hesitant to attend one of the schools, the highest ranked, because she feels she would stand out too much. She isle awning toward the more homeschool friendly of the colleges like my son did ...and he is doing well, by the way.

    So in addition to making friends outside of homeschool circles, maybe choosing a college in which you feel comfortable is the other part of the solution. I don't have the answer, but will definitely broach the subject with my kid.

  3. Ok... So that was a very short conversation. It turns out that she doesn't like that one because the people and professors are too serious and not fun at all. FUNSPIRITNESS is one of her college choosing criteria.

    1. A girl after my own heart! ;-)

      Thanks for checking with her. It's great to hear from the kids themselves.

  4. So I've been giving this some thought:

    While the author may have felt that her homeschooling "did not prepare her for groups outside of homeschooling groups," no schools ever prepare its students for interacting with homeschoolers. Since the schoolhouse kids don't know how to act around homeschooled kids and the homeschooled kids may or may not know how to act around schoolhouse kids, its no wonder kids from both types of classrooms look at the other as "different" (aka "weird").

    From the little conversation I've had with my own students, they share the belief that kids who are homeschooled are homeschooled because their whole way of life is "weird" not just their school choices. I have found myself often remarking that my niece and nephew are exactly the same kind of "weird" as every kid - just the perfect amount of weird to make life interesting and entertaining.

    There is too much "us" and "them" on both sides, I think.

    1. In Libby Anne's case, her parents home schooled with the specific intention of raising children who were not "worldly", so her experience is not necessarily the same as other home school graduates (as she says several times). Nevertheless, I relate to pretty much everything she ever says about the social issues she had as a result, even though my experiences were different. I think parents underestimate how much of their tone is picked up on by their kids, especially when the kids don't get exposed to a lot of different adults' points of views (as they would with different teachers throughout their schooling if they attended school). As Lin says, there is a lot of "us" and "them", and my own experience was that home schooling families were so defensive about their choices that it amounted to constant criticism of schooling families. I heard constantly that schools taught short attention spans, that school kids were mindless victims of peer pressure and indoctrination who were stunted academically because of "busy work" and high student-to-teacher ratios. I am sure that it was never the intention of the adults around me to "teach" us that schooled kids were inferior or their parents cared less, but that is definitely the message I picked up.

  5. I think Libby Anne's story was the norm. I related to it word for word. I would say some homeschoolers adapted more quickly to college than others, but I would say most were really clueleess about the general American culture.

    1. Lana, I hope you don't mind, I am posting a link to your blog here. You make some good points about homeschool and "socialization" and I appreciate your openness! If you prefer, Lana, , I will delete this link.

      Lana'a blog:

      Either way, thanks for your thoughts. I find that there is always more to learn and improvements to be made.

      Peace, Karen


Leave a comment!