Why Homeschooling Cannot Provide Healthy Socialization

Reader el left a link to a very good post on homeschooling:

For most children, school becomes a primary agent of socialization alongside the family. This does not happen for homeschoolers, though, who generally continue to go where their family goes, see who their family sees, and be where their family is. The family continues to be the primary agent of socialization.

The main argument that the homeschoolers roll out whenever they hear that they are selfishly robbing their miserable children of normal socialization by keeping them away from school as if they were toys is, “But I organize many playdates! But I take them to many activities! But I create a rich social life for them!” Of course, the idea that growing people need to have their own existence outside of their parents sphere of influence does not occur to homeschoolers.  They aren’t raising independent human beings in their own right, you see. They are bringing up creatures who will continue servicing Mommy’s and Daddy’s needs for as long as possible.

At the same time, homeschoolers don’t get an opportunity to grow into their adult roles gradually:

Homeschooled children like myself shift straight from a family life based on affection to an adult life based on performance. This transition can be grinding and abrupt, and it can be a difficult one to make.

Notice that this is yet another adult who was homeschooled and is now sharing how undermining this experience was.

People always wimp out and start denying their own ideas whenever homeschooling is discussed. After being cyberbullied by a bunch of unhinged, hysterical, homeschooling housewives with no lives of their own and with a long experience of interacting only with those who will never dare contradict them, I can understand this fear. The author of the quoted post chickens out a little bit by the end of the article but, still, this post is an important contribution to the discussion of the crippling effects of homeschooling.

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45 comments on “Why Homeschooling Cannot Provide Healthy Socialization

  1. I still do not believe that this is as simple an issue as you make it. I know of one person who, as a widowed working mother, reluctantly homeschooled her children because they were almost every day beaten by bullies on the school bus. The schools and the police would do nothing to help except say: “Don’t let your children ride the bus. They should not be in that school anyway.” I think the implication was that they were the wrong race for that particular school, but that is just a guess.

  2. I simply do not think this is true. People can be bullied for a lot of reasons. These children were never bullied before they moved to this particular school. I was bullied as a child just because I was quiet and thoughtful, but sometimes said things that were viewed as bragging. At least I think that was the reason. As far as I can tell, I was not bullied at home.

    • “Of course, even if this is true, if a child’s life is in danger in school, parents should not send him/her there.”

      – The operative word being “there.” To that particular school.

      “This is sometimes the case, as school shootings attest.”

      – I have read a book of very painstaking research on the Columbine shootings. The kids who perpetrated them were not bullied at school. But one of them was bullied by his father in a really nasty way.

      • “Of course, even if this is true, if a child’s life is in danger in school, parents should not send him/her there.”

        – The operative word being “there.” To that particular school.

        Many people cannot move to another school district; they have no money.

      • The children I am referring to are all adults now, but the older ones took care of the younger ones while their mother was working and the schooling took place when she was home. If I remember correctly, she was a bartender at the time, so she was home in the daytime and worked at night, while the children stayed home, studied, and slept. I can ask her exactly how it worked out, but the children seem to be doing well.

      • “but the older ones took care of the younger ones while their mother was working and the schooling took place when she was home”

        – I’m sorry, but what is the quality of education that a bartender can provide to children at home? Especially a bartender who is exhausted by a night shift? The arrangement is also extremely unfair to older children who are robbed of a choice whether they do or don’t want to become caregivers for small children at such a young age.

    • I don’t equate shooting with bullying. I think this opens up the definition of bullying way too much.

      “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.”

      You can’t murder the same person habitually. A bully needs the victims to be terrified but alive.

      • But will kill them if he can’t have that. Think murdering spouses – remember, this typically happens when the victims stand up to bullying, after they leave, etc.

      • I also don’t see the point of conflating domestic abuse with bullying. These are completely different phenomena. What is the point of collapsing them into one? A kid who taunts another kid on the playground, a husband who beats up his wife and a killer who shoots into a crowd are completely different people with completely different histories. I do not believe that these attempts to simplify complex issues by branding them the same way will help anybody.

        “this typically happens when the victims stand up to bullying,”

        – Not to bullying. To domestic abuse. To beatings. To domestic violence. Let’s call things with their own names.

    • “Are you suggesting that all the people he shot were of logical necessity bullied elsewhere beforehand”

      – These victims were not victims of bullying. They were victims of murder. Why are we conflating these two completely different phenomena?

    • It was the general violence — not directed at her in particular, but the general violence — that put my daughter off of school.

      • My definition is: Bullying is the apparently unmotivated mistreatment, in any form, of another person who appears weaker or vulnerable in any way whatever. This includes, but is not limited to assault with or without a weapon, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and ridicule.

        How is your definition different?

      • Bullying, murder, rape, manslaughter, theft, burglary and carjacking are completely different acts that do not have a shared cause or a shared result.

        Ridicule and emotional abuse should not, in my opinion, be conflated with murder.

  3. I think the bullying thing is the latest anti-school fad. There have always been bullies and picked-on kids, but I don’t think there is any epidemic of bullying that’s suddenly started. When the screechers run out of energy and the spotlight is off after the latest “bullying caused it” article comes out, we always see new facts come to light that have little or nothing to do with bullying. Take the Columbine shooting: supposedly the shooters had been bullied for being “goths.” Never mind that neither of the two had been known to have any interest in goth fashion or music, never mind that they had been popular in a regular way and involved in plenty of school activities, they weren’t the quaking fragile victims that just snapped. There was more going on at home that was the cause. Whenever something goes wrong in a kid’s life, you look at his family first because that’s where the problem began.

    Now there’s a new one that I read about last night on MSNBC: a kid in Texas shot himself, supposedly because he’d been bullied (that is, taunted, no mention in the article was made of him getting beaten up) for being “mixed race” (he was Asian and Hispanic). Now I know that this is Texas, but there are racists everywhere, and there aren’t people shooting themselves right and left because of it. I’m wondering what’s going to come to light about the kid’s home life.

    It’s the same with the gay kids who have trouble with bullying. I’m sure that many of them do get taunted at school. But when I was in school back in the Seventies we had several students that everyone was sure was gay, but no one bothered them. In any case, it’s usually in the home where gay kids get the most grief. Gay kids with supportive home lives are much better at handling homophobes and bullies than ones who have parents who disapprove of them.

    Mind you, I did not like school. It felt like a prison — and it was a pretty open, relaxed place. But I had to be there, and I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be there. On the other hand, it got me out of the house. I was always ready to go back after summer was over and I’d had my fill of being with my family 24/7 for three months. Americans don’t like to hear stuff like that, though. We fetishize the idea of “family” to a pathological degree. We don’t like to hear that families are usually the chief cause of psychological problems. We’d rather blame some outside force, some evil Stranger. That way our ideal of the sacred American Family can remain pristine.

    • You are a very brilliant person, twisted spinster. What a great comment! This part especially: “We fetishize the idea of “family” to a pathological degree. We don’t like to hear that families are usually the chief cause of psychological problems. We’d rather blame some outside force, some evil Stranger. That way our ideal of the sacred American Family can remain pristine.” I never thought about it this way, but I think you are absolutely right. This is very enlightening to me.

      • It’s something I’ve thought about for years and years. I mean, I’m all for families getting along and people getting together and having kids and all of that if that is what they want, but when it comes to the way we treat the family in our culture — like it has to be just like that Normal Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving dinner or else your life is broken — give me a break. It’s why I don’t buy into the divorce hysteria. “OMG, so many marriages end in divorce! Anathema! Apocalypse! Doom! Clutch your pearls!” Please. So many marriages shouldn’t have happened in the first place. And as for the poor suffering wee little victim baby chilluns who have to see Mommy and Daddy break up and not be the perfect Ken and Barbie Married fambly — they’ll just have to lump it, like those starving kids in Africa have to lump seeing their parents die in front of their faces. No really, I mean it: priorities, people. So you have to move and only see your dad on weekends. Your life is clearly over and you should become a homeless bum. That’s how Americans do “family”: if it’s not a perfect ideal as concocted by Madison Avenue and network television with one father and one mother and one or at the most two other siblings exactly two years apart in age and you don’t have two cars in your garage and you don’t live in a house with a yard and you don’t have a television and a dog (cat optional — cats are clearly French so they are not necessary for the proper American™ home) you are clearly not living as a proper American should.

        [/end rant. for now.]

    • My daughter convinced me to let her quit high school, though, for a combination of reasons including size and general roughness of the place, being the only Hispanic and getting picked on, the pros (for her) being outweighed by the cons. There’s a private school I think she’d have liked but it was expensive and she was not enthusiastic; wanted to work instead and I let her. Started at community college later but really wanted out of school at that earlier point.

      • You are talking about a teenager who made her own decision. This is a completely separate issue. I suspect that you didn’t quit your job to spend all day long organizing her every breath, did you? :-)

  4. My cousin home schools in Zimbabwe. It’s part of the way some of the remaining whites are retaining their Christian heritage defensively. My cousin is very dutiful, but actually quite rude and offensive by contemporary standards. For instance, if my manners slipped, if I ate my food with only one utensil or I didn’t dress up sufficiently to go out, she would snap at one of her kids, “Remember to eat your food with both the knife and the fork!” or “It’s important to dress up properly when going out!”

    I found her behavior very bizarre, although I don’t think she was aware of her rudeness, or else she must have excused it in her mind as offensiveness that was entirely necessary.

  5. I’m a bit torn on this one because I feel that my public school education was so poor and I still feel like I’ve very socially inept.
    But I am certain social situations would be even more difficult had I been home schooled. I still remember when I first started going to pre-school, I felt so shy compared to the other kids who had been there for longer or had been in day care almost all of their lives. And I was only a couple of years behind – that’s peanuts compared to home-schooled children.

    • ” I still remember when I first started going to pre-school, I felt so shy compared to the other kids who had been there for longer or had been in day care almost all of their lives. ”

      – I know what you mean. I look at my niece who has been in daycare since 18 months and kids her age (2,5) who have been staying at home with their non-working mothers. The difference is dramatic. The stay-at-home kids look visibly less mature in everything they do. Some of them cannot even put on their own shoes. Some are not even potty-trained yet! As for initiating contact with other kids, forget it.

  6. Just came across your blog. I read your “about” and will try to abide by your criteria, but please forgive me if I stray. I have a few questions about your post and am interested in your conclusions.

    Would you mind defining “normal socialization”?

    Where we live (perhaps it’s different in your experience & that is where the presumption comes from) all the children in a 6 block radius go to the same school. The families in this neighborhood (due to the pricing of the homes) are all generally in the same socioeconomic strata. The school takes the same 2 field trips in alternating years. The curricula is prepackaged and exactly the same for matriculating students. Students are required to sit in their seats and change rooms at the sound of a bell. This mirrors my public school experience 30 years ago in an entirely different suburb. What kind of desirable “socialization” does this offer?

    I’m curious why the high value on “normal socialization” anyway? I see that your own home life was unbearable for a variety of reasons ~ but what about those for whom “normal socialization” is/was unbearable? What about those who struggle(d) against the system in order to learn and follow interests?

    I don’t understand why sitting in a building with the same students & same teachers from the same neighborhood provides covetable “socialization”. Our children have traveled the US extensively (given their ages). We have friends who are black, white, Mexican, American, Chinese, straight, gay, divorced, married, Muslim, agnostic, Christian, Libertarian, Democrat, Republican ~ multiple combinations therof (probably more, but we don’t require our friends/aquantances to fill out “identity” forms).

    Is there any situation in which you would find homeschooling acceptable?

    If your dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling, why isn’t my dissatisfaction with public school reason to ban public school?
    (by the way, I have no aspirations to destroy public school ~ I just feel the more options for students/families the better)

    Oh, and you mentioned something in the “about” concerning Autism. Our 12yo autistic neighbor (of 8 years) is in our living room right now. His mother laments on a regular basis how much work it is to advocate for his education & treatment in the public school. He’ll be starting middle school next year, 2 years behind his age-peers. Another friend brought her 8yo son home from public school to educate him at home because the school called her on a weekly basis to come pick him up. They spent 2 years letting him sit in the room refusing to even attempt accomplishing something. Another friend started homeschooling her autistic son after he ran away from the school before lunch & they didn’t bother to contact her until she came to pick him up.

    Granted our experiences are empirical, but we’ve found that special needs children (autism, GT, LD, etc.) are significantly underserved both academically & socially in public school.

    Also curious if you have had any meaningful interactions with unschoolers?

    Thanks for the dialogue.

    • We have discussed this topic at length here: http://clarissasblog.com/2011/01/17/homeschooling-as-a-form-of-child-abuse/

      “what about those for whom “normal socialization” is/was unbearable”

      – They should ask their parents to explain why they crippled their children socially.

      “If your dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling”

      – Please show where I said “My dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling”. Please concentrate: I have no interest in your assumptions and projections. I need a quote from me where I said anything as stupid as this. Until you provide such a quote, I see no reason to discuss anything with a person who is incapable of reading and comprehending a very simple text.

      If you homeschool, I feel extremely sorry for the children whose intellectual nourishment comes from somebody with such poor reading skills.

      • “http://clarissasblog.com/2011/01/17/homeschooling-as-a-form-of-child-abuse/”
        http://clarissasblog.com/2011/01/17/homeschooling-as-a-form-of-child-abuse/
        Interesting. For someone requiring no “assumptions and projections” (lest you think that’s an inaccurate quote ~ look up) … or it’s only *other* people’s assumptions & projections? Perhaps my reading skills are poor… or perhaps your more adept at disparagement than engaging in meaningful discourse.

        “They should ask their parents to explain why they crippled their children socially”

        I was in “preschool” from a few weeks after birth up to the point at which I entered public school. What would be the appropriate preparation for the “normal socialization” of public school?

        “Please show where I said “My dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling”.”

        You said, “I was kept at home until the age of 7, as I shared before. Today, in psychoanalysis I am still solving the huge problems that created for me. It crippled me socially and personally, stunted my growth, robbed me of many socialization techniques.

        Of course, I would have preferred the worst school in the universe to having my development stunted in this way. Not even a huge crowd of nasty Communist bureaucrats can cause nearly the same damage as one little housewife.”
        here: http://clarissasblog.com/2012/04/11/without-homeschooling-christian-patriarchy-would-not-exist/

        I found that interaction with the real world through career, hobbies, and passions are what helped me through the contrived preschool & public school experience that left me socially & personally stunted and robbed of real socialization techniques. I can see how immensely helpful psychoanalysis has been to your social relations.

        Thanks again for sharing… well, I guess you didn’t answer anything, did you? I won’t burden you any further with a reason to choose denigration over Enlightenment.

        Just in case you need a name to give CPS when filing your child abuse complaint: our children’s “intellectual nourishment” comes from Sidney, Travers, Nesbit, Grahame, Kipling, White, Baldwin, Milne, Silverstein, Tolkien, Holt, DaJong, Swift, Carroll, Rowling, Dorling Kindersley, Khan, TED, Apple, Majong, Overdrive, docents at the museums, ranger of the state park … and the aforementioned blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians, gays, straights, etc.

      • “Please show where I said “My dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling”.””

        – OK, now try to concentrate really hard. Where did I say “My dissatisfaction with homelife is reason to ban homeschooling”? Nowhere, right?

        Now let’s discuss what made you attribute your own ideas to me.

        “I found that interaction with the real world through career, hobbies, and passions are what helped me through the contrived preschool & public school experience that left me socially & personally stunted and robbed of real socialization techniques. I can see how immensely helpful psychoanalysis has been to your social relations. Thanks again for sharing… well, I guess you didn’t answer anything, did you? I won’t burden you any further with a reason to choose denigration over Enlightenment.

        – And your writing is very bad, too. Poor, miserable mites who have to hear nothing but your unintelligent rants all day long. :-(

    • “Perhaps you should take that up with the Public School system.”

      – If you got your high school diploma 15 minutes ago, then you can blame your public school. However, if you have had time since then to work on your reading and writing, then you have only yourself to blame.

      • The public school is only responsible to us for 15 minutes after graduation? (look up!)

        That throws your socialization hypothesis into a bit of a quandry…

      • Socialization and reading / writing skills are very different things. But I wouldn’t expect a person who thinks “quandry” is a word to be aware of that.

        What I find especially hilarious is how homeschoolers destroy the idea of homeschooling better than I ever could with every word they say or write.

      • I was thinking the exact same thing about you and your dogmas! Thank you for the fun ~ but I’m off to ruin my children’s lives.

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