Monday, May 15, 2017

The Myth of Socialization in Schools

One of the most common questions people have about homeschooling is "How do you get your children socialized?" They seem to think that socialization is something you need schools for and that children who don't spend all day in the presence of their peers are somehow deficient in social skills. This is false.

One of the primary reasons for this confusion is that a lot of people think of "socialization" as the kind of environment you get in public school. You know - all the cliques and after school sports and spending a lot of time with people exactly your age while looking down on younger kids and looking up to older ones. But that's not socialization.

Children are best socialized by spending a lot of time with adults and children of many ages, but especially adults. They primarily learn how to be social by learning from those older than themselves how to act in social situations. They don't learn how to be social from other kids their age who are still trying to figure it out.

In no other area of life do people think you need to learn things from similarly clueless people. You don't learn how to be a doctor by learning from other medical students. You don't learn to be an electrician from other students in electrician training. 16-year-olds don't learn to drive from other 16-year-olds. In every case, you learn from those who are more experienced.

Socialization is the same way. Children need to spend large amounts of time with adults who can teach them how to behave properly and interact socially. Learning primarily from their peers, who don't know yet, teaches bad behaviors and peer-dependence (which the Bible warns about, by the way), not a well-balanced social understanding.

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