In Part 1 of this article, I attempted to show that homeschoolers are definitely not suffering from a lack of socialization. Rather, they experience a level of social interaction that produces the kind of people I think everyone desires.
I attempted to prove that homeschool kids don't actually live under rocks, possessing only Bibles, granola, and slingshots. We do actually go out into the world and interact with other humans. A lot. But since we are homeschoolers, a lot of our time is spent at home, with our families.
And this is actually the perfect training ground for social interaction.
Interacting with family members gives ample opportunity for kids to learn how to relate to others, while in the forgiving and comfortable environment of their own home. They learn by waking up and greeting family members with a good attitude, eating breakfast cheerfully (even if oatmeal is NOT their favorite), looking people in the eye when carrying on conversation, speaking in complete sentences, completing tasks alone or with others, and hundreds of other incidents while under the instruction and observation of parents who love them and desire their best.
They learn to properly greet a stranger at the door, answer the phone, discuss a favorite book, ask (and answer) questions, listen patiently to a toddler (or any sibling) ramble on about a "boring" topic longer than they'd wish, and when to put their phones away and be present with the people in the room. They don't disappear to their rooms when company comes, but sit around the living room and join in conversation with the adults.
But there are a couple of other things that people confuse with the need for socialization: the fear that homeschool kids might be weird or immature.
Nicholas reads about Tigers with his safari hat, because every day has its own costume.
I actually know plenty of people homeschool moms who are afraid their kids will be weird. But what they're doing is buying into the very same thought process that if you aren't just like all the other kids out there, you're still doing something wrong.
Some of you want your kids to be super smart, super talented, and graduate at 15. But you want them to look and act like all the other kids. It just doesn't work that way. The reason it seems that kids raised at home are "weird" is just because they are different.
But consider: they are literally developing their own personalities without the influence of a classroom full of children in which the leaders determine what's cool and what's not. They get to be who they are! Isn't that what everyone, the world over, tells us we should do??? Be Yourself. Unless what you are is not pre-approved by the cool kids. Then don't be yourself. It's just too weird.
This excellent article "Why are homeschooled kids so annoying?" hits the nail on the head. "And what do I mean by “annoying”? I mean what people mean when they say that homeschooled kids are annoying. I mean kids who ask too many questions and know too much information and like certain stuff and refuse to like other things and don’t care what other people think about their silly hobbies and their know-it-all-ness."
If your kid recites a list of dinosaur facts a mile long for fun, embrace it! If your daughter reads and writes for 8-10 hours, be thankful! Bug collections, Rubik's cube obsession, castle drawings, electronics tinkering, perfecting headstands in the living room, dabbling with endless pasta recipes...they all spring from your child's inner person. It's who they are, or at least developing who they will become. And the end result is going to be someone who has explored all the different little rabbit holes until they found their main path to adulthood. They will have traveled that path without ridicule, teasing, peer pressure, and bullying.
In the meantime, maybe they will wear some weird stuff, or tell you "cool things about wolverines" till your eyes start to cross.
Maybe you'll walk into a room and see your daughter doing schoolwork while it looks like she's playing Headbanz. Maybe your son will only wear camo for the next 18 months of his life. Maybe your son will carry around a thick book of geography, memorizing everything he can about the jungles of South America.
Maybe your daughter will wear a sock sticking out of her pants every day because she's a wolf and the sock is her tail, and she plans to grow up and be a "baby wolf scientist." My cousin did that as a little girl! But you know what? That same cousin is now 20, pursuing a political journalism major in college, and producing a talk radio show in Washington D.C. in her spare time. Yeah. I'd say she's pretty normal. No; actually, she's above average. And she was raised at home, socialized under her parents' protection, and has turn into a very likable young adult. My just-turned-18-year-old daughter was asked to be a shift manager at the local Starbucks, before she reached the age to be eligible. Her boyfriend's boss tried to promote him to manager at the fast food place where he works, before he turned 18. All three of these kids never set foot in a public school, and did not receive the indoctrination socialization that the world out there mistakenly desires for them.
What about immaturity? Again, I think the wrong label is being slapped on a lot of kids who are actually innocent. I know a LOT of kids who are an interesting mixture of innocence and maturity. They are overjoyed with simple pleasures and love to laugh and have fun and play like kids, but they have a level of maturity that makes them responsible, understanding, and smart kids.
Childhood innocence is something to be treasured. And it's the very thing that's missing in that holy grail of public education call socialization: it's the exact opposite of innocence. The innocence of children is snatched away, not only by peers, but by the school's teachers and curriculum. I don't need to remind you what's being taught to very young children in schools that is far ahead of their ability to understand, let alone need it.
So, please, moms and dads who are afraid that your kids will be messed up because they are raised at home: quit listening to the "experts" (seriously, though!) and let wisdom be your guide.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
Be patient through those years where your kids are kinda different from the other kids. Love them, support them, encourage their interests, and wait. If you raise your children yourself, God will bless your efforts a hundredfold!