I am often asked if I feel that home schooled kids are “socially awkward”. In addition, a few months ago, I received this great question from a reader, Jill:
I’m debating homeschooling. My fiance’s biggest worry is that public school, for all its downsides, allows for something homeschooling does not – ample exposure to people who may not look, think, behave, or live like you. In other words, he sees homeschooling as keeping one’s child in a bubble, away from ideas and people who have a lifestyle the parents don’t agree with.
I would love a post/discussion on how true or untrue this perception is. How do homeschooling parents teach their kids to interact with others – other kids, grown-ups, other cultures, other faiths, etc. How do you prepare your child for life in the “real world” where not everyone’s cultures/values/faith/etc. matches what goes on in their own home.
These discussions are so helpful, by the way – I’m gaining great insight!
I love Jill’s thoughts and appreciate that she shared her concern. How wise of her to give such good consideration to parenting her kids, instead of just jumping into what sounds good at the moment.
When we first decided to home school our kids (when our oldest was beginning Kindergarten 11 years ago), many asked us, “But what about their social skills?”
It’s a valid concern. All parents want their kids to be able to grow up to be “normal”, productive adults who know how to handle real world, real life problems and situations.
So first, let me say this, which is my answer to the question, “Are home schooled kids socially awkward?”
I have known some home schooled kids who are socially awkward. I have also known some public school kids who are socially awkward. I have known some private school kids who are socially awkward. I have known grown adults who are socially awkward. I have had coworkers who are socially awkward. I have gone to church with people who are socially awkward. I have stood in line at the grocery store with people who are socially awkward. I have had lovely conversations with people who are socially awkward.
Some people are just socially awkward. Sometimes I am socially awkward. Sometimes all of us are socially awkward.
And after a while, reading the word awkward over and over again just becomes awkward.
So my point is: home school does not create a socially awkward student or adult, any more or less than public school or private school. That statement, in my opinion, is a fact. (Ha, I made myself giggle when I first wrote that sentence, which I have to admit, feels a tad bit…socially awkward.) ;)
What about the question of home schooled kids living in a bubble? I think this is a great question that Jill asks. Home schooling does keep a child from some experiences that they may otherwise have if they were in a school environment. So, is this wise? Is it providing your kids with the ability to get along in the “real world” some day?
I can’t speak for all home school families – although I do think I speak for many. In our experience, we have found that while in some ways we are protecting them - in many ways we are actually preparing them. Preparing them for the “real world”. Providing experiences for them that will teach them how to deal with the elderly, the handicapped, the foreign, the younger, the older, those that look different, those that sound different, those who don’t believe in Jesus. Our kids’ experiences just look different than they look for those who are in a schoolroom setting.
Our kids get an incredible amount of rich social interaction with all varieties of people when we go to church; when we participate in various ministries; when we invite people to our home; when they take part in many various home school and community activities and sports; when they do odd jobs for others with their dad; when they go to the bank or store or library or post office…the list is endless really.
Am I afraid my kids don’t get enough social interaction or that they live in a bubble? Absolutely not. On the contrary, I am grateful for the vast opportunities they have to develop social skills while they interact frequently with people of all varieties of ages, abilities, disabilities, and seasons in life. And I’ve gotta say - there are days I wish my kids’ social lives would slow down just a little bit so that we could get something done at home!
The real world involves all kinds of opportunities to learn and grow that a school classroom can’t always provide. And admittedly, the school classroom provides some cool things that we can’t provide at home. But we’re okay with that. No school – home, public, or private can do all and be all and provide all.
But above all, no matter how you school your kids, the main goal should be to teach them to be servants of God. And hey, guess what? I’ve known home schoolers who are wonderful servants. I’ve also known public school kids who are wonderful servants. I’ve known private school kids who are wonderful servants…
They all have great parents. I bet you’re one of them. :)
I am always prayerful and careful when writing a post like this. I would deeply appreciate it if you take the same kind of care as you leave a comment. There will be no kid or parent bashing allowed – whether it is related to home, public, or private school. Keep your comments kind and positive – anything less would just be downright socially awkward. :)