Homeschool: Socializing vs Socialization

"What about socialization?" 

The question makes many homeschool moms cringe. It is the most worn-out argument/question ever posed to  members of the homeschool community and here I am bringing it up again.

I'm bringing it up because I want to clarify the difference between socializing (what people really mean) and socialization (what they say). 

Socializing vs Socialization

Socialize: To mix with others socially

When people ask "what about socialization?", what they really want to know is "How are you going to see to it that your children have playmates?" 

That's not socialization. It's just one aspect of socialization.

Getting together with others for chatting, visiting, playing, and other forms of keeping company is socializing.

Socialization: the process by which individuals acquire the knowledge, language, social skills, and value to conform to the norms and roles required for integration into a group or community

A family is a community. A homeschool group is a community. A town, club, city, or organization is a community. Even a group of friends can be called a community.

If the child is learning to fit into his community, socialization is happening. 

Homeschool: Socialization vs Socializing

Are homeschoolers socialized?

Do homeschoolers socialize? And are they socialized? (Remember: These are two different things.)

Homeschool children are a part of a community. They are a part of their own family, of course. No doubt they socialize with those family members. Certainly, they are socialized to the habits, expectations, manners, and culture of that family.

Homeschoolers often attend classes, co-op classes, field trips, and other activities with homeschool families. Not only do they socialize with those other families, but they also learn the social skills, habits, and etiquette required to fit into that group. 

Homeschool families do the same things all families do: running errands to the grocery store, the DMV, the convenience store, attending local festivals, and other events. They chat with their neighbors. They are socializing with and being socialized to the community in which they live.

Yes, homeschool families are socialized. They are socialized to their family, friends, homeschool groups, and community. Rather than being socialized only to kids their age in an institutional setting, they're learning to socialize with people of varying ages and backgrounds within the 'real world.'

What is your response to the socialization issue?

Original Photo Credit


  1. I'd be a bad person to answer this because in our case, homeschooling does damper "socialization."  My autistic children have a lot of trouble fitting in to the community.  I need to teach them basic manners at home, etc. and we are trying to get out a bit.  But it's hard.

    Most parents have co-ops and all kinds of time to socialize. In fact, they have a more seamless socialization because their "school" friends are a real part of their lives. :)

    1. Homeschooling isnt dampering that, Autism is. Speaking from experience, my ASD child has a very high level of social skills BECAUSE of homeschooling. Having the one on one attention of a teacher/parent allowed for me to more thoroughly work on his abilities and barriers. At 14 he could almost pass for "normal" and even the specialists we've seen in Minneapolis have said that wouldnt have happened in a classroom/school setting.

  2. Hello Happy-Elf!
    Yes, life with autistic children can be a challenge, particularly in the area of social skills. I wouldn't say, however, that homeschool dampers that learning of skills. I would think that being surrounded by 20 other autistic children (i.e. in school) would certainly put a damper on progress simply because these children tend to mimic and would therefore mimic the other autistic children. Being at home promises that they'll try to mimic the non-autistic people in their world. :-)

  3. Audrey_Sheppard8/04/2011

    I will be sharing this one!

  4. Malea Baer8/05/2011

    I've come to define it as my son's ability to have a comprehensive and mature conversation with a stranger on a range of topics; to be polite and well behaved in public and in private; to give the benefit of the doubt in uncomfortable situations; and to be able to order his own meal when we go to a restaurant!

  5. 17 yrs into homeschooling and I thought I was over the "socialization" question. But once I started blogging about it I realized that it still bothers me! It's such a stupid question when you consider the plight of our young people. Stay focused and keep schooling! LOL!

  6. Hi Michelle, 

    Love the comic. Our family is too involved in the community to respond to the socialization question anymore, LOL!  

    Underneath the socialization question are a multitude of conflicting beliefs regarding the purpose of childhood. A Long time ago, in a conversation about me trying to get kids to eat veggies, a relative said " I think that kids should eat whatever they want. Don't you?" This lead into a broader discussion about how kids should be raised (i.e, socialized). 

    Her line of reasoning was that children will have plenty of time to be disappointed as adults. The notion seemed to be that children should get to experience a time of pampering before time runs out for them! I disagreed. Yes, childhood IS short and should be enjoyed, but it is also preparation for adulthood. If kids remain in a "bubble" of self gratification surrounded by peers, how are they ever going to deal with realities of adult hood? 

    They won't. They'll fight them tooth and nail. The closer they get to adulthood and responsibility the more angry they'll become at the notion of having to let go of the false reality that was created for them. I think that much of the teenage angst, that we westerners see, is just an expression of grief over the impending loss of a pampered childhood but that's just my humble opinion.

    Great brochure and Post!  ~Niki

  7. I'm so sorry I'm just now getting to this! It must have come through when I was using my phone for blogging (that was NOT fun by the way!).  I agree.. it IS a stupid question.

  8. Niki,
    I could say so much here. I recently (because of certain situations in our lives) read a book entitled, "Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited". Your comment is right in line with the things stated in that book. The child who is extremely neglected emotionally or extremely pampered creates a false reality; a false view of himself and a false view of the purpose of others. He then becomes the narcissist.. omnipotent, omniscient, self-serving, using other humans as objects to gain affection, love, hatred and to blame all ills of his world upon. He seeks to remain a toddler for the entirety of his life.. pampered, catered to.. not having to work or living life as a responsible adult but as a child taken care of by a parent (spouse).

    Yeah... that sounds like a great plan! LOL


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