Socialization is often a hot topic, both among current homeschoolers and those who oppose a parent’s right to home educate. How, homeschooling’s opponents wonder, can homeschooled children possibly get enough social time if they are not spending 7 or more hours each day in a classroom full of kids who are the same age (give or take a year or two). Homeschoolers hold that their children get plenty of social time (and since when does education equal socializing anyway).
Despite studies demonstrating that homeschooled children are generally well socialized and often in a manner arguably healthier than school children experience, the debate rages on. In the last months of 2013, Florida homeschooling mom Theresa Cano, was forced by a judge to enroll her children in school. This is despite the fact that homeschooling is entirely legal in Florida. Mrs. Cano was in court for a custody case, but her husband did not argue against homeschooling. Instead, a court-appointed guardian ad litem decided that despite being well-adjusted and doing well academically, the children would benefit from socializing in a public school setting. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has filed a brief in the case.
While Mrs. Cano’s case is certainly frightening and upsetting for homeschooling parents, it isn’t a situation most parents who legally homeschool will face. Still, as loving parents, we do actively look for opportunities for our children to have fun and get involved with others. Here are some tips for doing so if you are new to homeschooling:
- Join a homeschool group or co-op. Many not only offer opportunities to have fun and socialize but also plan field trips, classes, and special events. Additionally, the parents you meet can provide much-appreciated support.
- Look for scouts and 4-H groups. While not specifically for homeschoolers, they often provide a great source of learning and fun.
- Check area museums for classes and programs aimed at homeschoolers or held on weekends.
- Start your own group. Want to get to know homeschoolers in your area? Start a group that meets weekly! Get together at the park for play or at your local community center to hold a book club.
- Get involved in church groups. They typically designate a weekly time for youth to get together and may plan events, such as dances, conferences, and field trips.
- Don’t forget the neighborhood kids. If your children have friends in your neighborhood, spending time with them definitely counts.
Most parents don’t have trouble finding opportunities for their children to socialize. In fact, many appreciate homeschooling because it allows their children to explore their interests and socialize with people of a wide variety of ages. If you are new to homeschooling and need help in this area, however, reach out to a local homeschooling group for recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about the issue of homeschooling and socialization, take a look at the following papers: Common Arguments About the Strengths and Limitations of Home Schooling and Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us.