Homeschooling and the Myth of Socialization

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by Manfred B. Zysk

One of the silliest and most annoying comments made to homeschooling parents is, “Aren’t you concerned about how your child will be able to socialize with others?”. What is being implied here is that the homeschooled child is some kind of introverted misfit who cannot relate to other people, children, and the outside world. In reality, most of the homeschooled children that I have known and met are not only outgoing, but polite and respectful, too. This is a sharp contrast to the public school children that I have known, who can’t relate to adults and whose behavior is rude and inconsiderate. Realistically, there are some exceptions on both sides.

Isn’t it interesting that amid all of the public school shootings over the past few years, the only comment that opponents of homeschooling can come up with is the red herring of “socialization”? You may have noticed, there haven’t been shootings at private schools, or shootings inside of the homes of homeschooled children.

Opponents of homeschooling can’t complain about average test scores, since homeschooled children consistently outscore public school children, so they instead make a problem that doesn’t exist.

Who is responsible for creating this “socialization” problem? This myth has been perpetrated by sociologists, psychologists, public school administrators, the NEA (and local teacher’s unions), etc., whenever they comment on homeschooling to the news media. These are the same people who give Ritalin (a very strong narcotic) and other drugs to schoolchildren, in place of discipline.

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.” Good answer.

In order for children to become assimilated into society properly, it is important to have a variety of experiences and be exposed to differing opinions and views. This enables them to think for themselves and form their own opinions. This is exactly what public education does not want; public education is for the lowest common denominator and influencing all of the students to share the same views (“group-think”) and thought-control through various means, including peer-pressure.

Homeschooling allows parents the freedom to associate with other interested parties, visit local businesses, museums, libraries, etc. as part of school, and to interact with people of all ages in the community. For example, my son goes on field trips with other homeschooling families in our community. He recently was able to visit an audiologist, a McDonald’s restaurant (to see how they run their operation), and several other similar activities. He gets to meet and talk to people of different ages doing interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) occupations. He spends a lot of his free time with kids older and younger than himself, and adults from twenty to over ninety years old.

Meanwhile, in public school, children are segregated by age, and have very little interaction with other adults, except their teacher(s). This environment only promotes alienation from different age groups, especially adults. This is beginning to look like the real socialization problem.

My wife and I like to bring our son with us when we are visiting with friends and other adults. How else will he learn to be an adult, if he never has contact with adults? He knows what kind of behavior we expect from him, and the consequences of his actions. He is often complimented on his good manners by friends and adults.

In conclusion, homeschooling parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, but I have never heard any homeschooling parent say that the reason they want to homeschool is to isolate their child from all of society. But, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for homeschooled children to stay away from public school administrators, the NEA members, sociologists, and others who cannot properly “socialize” with children.

Go to your local public school, walk down the hallways and see what behaviors you would want your child to emulate.

December 16, 1999

Manfred B. Zysk has been homeschooling for five years, with the help and dedication of his wife, Margaret Zysk. They work with other homeschoolers in Idaho.

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