homeschooling / socialization

stats on the ‘s’ word: homeschool socialization quantified

People question whether home educating is at least a little inappropriate for the mere disadvantage of its socialization issues. How could a child not survive without a cloister of twenty five same-aged people surrounding them eight hours a day? I know I can’t survive without them…oh wait, I can totally survive, actually thrive, without that.

I like being with people, Meyers Briggs personality profiling claims me as an extrovert, but I like quiet and being alone at the best and worst of times. I don’t ask people how old they are before I decide to be friends with them. And I didn’t learn a lot of healthy social habits like kindness, selflessness, and all those other useful relational tools from childhood playground friends (though some of their parents were great examples).

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Perhaps there’s an underlying assumption that children come into the world prepared to deal with other people. As children, as with all people, we have our idiosyncrasies and emotional hardwiring, some relatively harmless, others pretty harmful. We all have to undo some of them to be happy. Whether it’s healthy parental examples, mentoring friendships, or learning by trial and error in marriage and parenting, we all find ourselves learning what we need to learn to engage in healthy, fulfilling relationships. No formal class required.

Home educated children have a constant guide. No, not an omnipresent guide. We’re not in the same room all the time. Our kids like to have separate time too. We guide them in their sibling relationships. We teach them to be assertive, to be less aggressive, to be honest, considerate, whatever applies. We talk through their peer struggles. We’re the same as any aware and interested parent.

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Though we’re not omnipresent, they are learning from our habits, our ways of being. They are less likely to become peer-dependent, less likely to play one-upmanship games (unless parents do that) because they are highly valued in our little social circle, they are less likely to overlook their friends’ needs (unless their parents do that) because they know their sibling is highly valued in our little social circle, they are less likely to listen to their friends’ thoughts over their inner thoughts (unless their parents do that)…monkey see, monkey do.

Now if I just answered a question about socialization that you were not thinking about and you’d just like to know if we are stuck in the house, caged like monkeys in a zoo, well, that’s a different question. That is a discussion on social opportunities. Between violin, piano, drama, homeschool co-op, grocery shopping, guitar, youth group, gymnastics, dancing, skating, soccer, tennis, baseball, the mall, playdates, travelling to the library or travelling to another part of the world, yup, we’ve got social opportunities covered. Frankly, we need to find time away from too much of that, like everyone else in this culture…but that’s a different blog.

The only difference between our kids’ extra curricular time and their previous schooled existence is that we have much more time to do a wider berth of activities. We prefer scheduling them during the day and we don’t always choose to do them for two semesters in a row.

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That was the briefest introduction to socialization that I could muster.

Assuming that socialization is an intent to prepare a human being to become a good productive, contributing member of society, let’s take a look at the statistics, that were presented by Paul Farris, HSLDA lawyer, in a homeschool seminar:

Do home educated children become good productive citizens? Are they productive members of society?

a. They are more likely to go to post secondary school and farther in post graduate training. Whereas, schooled students are less likely to go on to university. Weird. That’s not what I would have guessed, especially since people are so worried about the kids actually qualifying for college. (Oh, and if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, university is not the only way to be a productive member of society…I agree).

b. Home-grown (home educated) adults come out across the job spectrum, and also are more likely to vote and be political participants.

c. 69% were involved in community groups, versus their 48% interested counterparts.

d. They are more likely to give to charities.

e. 93% are salaried and 32% receive sources of self-employed income (and if you’re astute and questioning my math, I asked how that could be….salaried people can also receive self-employed income)…all this to say that they are more likely to be self-employed than the average population, significantly higher than the average population.

f. Homeschoolers have more kids. Well, this one you didn’t wonder about..we are more likely to have 3.5 kids (ever pregnant, ha ha) and schooled population has the classic 1.8 kids (also ever pregnant–this wasn’t in the first section of my stats class–how do they figure these things out?)

g. 33% have investment income…pretty remarkable considering the adults researched weren’t over thirty. Yet, it wasn’t coming from their parents, because the average income of homeschooling families, is, well, average. (If you want to know more details, you can check out the HSLDA website).

h. Home-grown adults were significantly more involved in sports than the average population. In Kenya, I met a homeschooled family whose children had plenty of time to occupy themselves. One of their boys practiced football manoeuvres for hours each day; he was a awarded a scholarship to Notre Dame for football just this past season! Of course, one person doesn’t make a research study.

i. Home-grown adults are less likely to watch television but more likely to participate in cultural activities.

At the very least, an honest observer could confess, we grow up to be pretty regular people.

I’ll close my blog with a heavyweight in the philosophical world, Mahatma Gandhi:

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent”.

9 thoughts on “stats on the ‘s’ word: homeschool socialization quantified

  1. YES! YES! YES! 🙂 As a homeschooled student myself, and now a homeschool mom, I loved this and nodded along all the way through. I think kids learn BAD socialization habits from their peers in big school classrooms. Homeschooling, and interacting with a greater variety of people of all ages, and in smaller social settings, is much better for kids. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. While I feel very strongly that homeschooling can provide excellent social opportunities, superior in almost every way to those of schooling, I am leery of the statistics you quoted above. Why? Because the quality of the source study is very poor, and that undermines the credibility of the arguments it is meant to support. The stats are derived from a survey done in 2003 by people with biases using poor methodology. Here’s an article that describes some of the issues in depth: I participated in a similar study done in Canada by the Fraser Institute and noted similar biases and errors of extrapolation.

  3. The gist of it … that the survey was very biased. It suffered from high levels of selection bias and confirmation bias. In 2003 it was a survey publicized by email (at a time when home computer use and email connectedness were the stuff of upper middle class families). That meant that it probably excluded most lower socio-economic-status families, and also those others who were intentionally or unwittingly isolating themselves (and their children) from the digital world … and possibly also isolating them in other ways. The survey population was also entirely self-selected. It was of homeschooling families eager to prove that homeschooling socialization was a non-issue.

    So this was a survey of a relatively affluent, well-networked subset of homeschoolers who were eager to put themselves forth as examples of how homeschooled kids’ socialization needs are more than adequately met. That is nothing like a controlled, blinded, random research study of the entire population of homeschoolers.

      • The biases are built into the methodology as detailed in the original study. In 2003 it was publicized and distributed by email. It was therefore excluding families who had neither the means nor the will to be plugged into internet homeschooling networks of the day. And because it was a study that was publicized as being funded by a right-wing Christian homeschool advocacy group (the HSLDA), and had a low response rate (under 30% I believe) one could reasonably assume that respondents chose whether to respond or not in part based on whether they felt their responses would support a rosy picture of homeschooling. When I participated in the Fraser Institute’s study on Canadian homeschooling at around the same time, I saw a lot of that self-selection in action; I knew parents who chose not to participate because they knew that the CAT3 testing would be stressful and/or demoralizing to their kids, or who feared that their kids would not perform well and would therefore undermine the rosy view of homeschooling that they hoped would be supported. So the upshot was that the CAT3 test results in the Fraser study were not of a representative subset of homeschoolers but of “homeschoolers whose parents felt they would perform well.” When you compare those results favourable with much more random results from public school classrooms where now-performing children aren’t excluded, that’s a biased comparison. Of course homeschoolers came out on top!

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