Why I don’t worry about my homeschoolers’ socialization


Written by Annie Reneau of Motherhood and More.

If you were to ask the two million or so homeschoolers across America which question they get asked the most, I’m sure most would say, “What about socialization?”

Before kids, I might have asked the same question. Now that our oldest homeschooler is high school age (craziness!), that question seems completely asinine.

No offense, if that’s a question you’d ask. But it’s such a non-issue, it seems like a silly question from this side of the fence.

Here’s why:

We don’t homeschool in a bubble. 

We leave the house. A lot. And when we leave the house, we’re usually forced to talk to people.

Our kids take classes and do extracurricular activities with other kids (both homeschooled and not). We’re active in our religious community. We have a lot of friends with diverse backgrounds and kids of various ages.

The only socialization our kids don’t get is the specific socialization that comes with public school.

The specific socialization that comes with public school isn’t exactly ideal.

There’s a lot that I could say about this, but let’s just start with bullying. It’s not like it never happens in the homeschooling community, but it’s definitely much more rare.

Some people think that kids need to be exposed to bullying, that it somehow builds character, but I think that’s bunk.

One needn’t be attacked by a bear to learn basic survival skills.

I think there are very few kids who are able to muster whatever combination of tenacity, thick skin, assertiveness, and sense of self-worth it takes to be bullied and actually come out better for it on the other side.

I think most of the time, bullying is just endured until it’s outgrown. Other times, the outcome is tragic. It’s a huge problem, and one I’m not sorry our kids don’t have to confront as children.

Our kids are learning how to deal with difficult personalities and assert themselves through normal social interactions, which is a normal and healthy way to develop such skills.


Socialization means learning to interact with a variety of people in a variety of situations.

Bullying aside, who decided that 500 other 13-year-olds are the right people to socialize a 13-year-old?

Kids benefit from regularly interacting with a wide variety of ages, from younger kids to elderly adults. Sitting in a room with 30 other people your own age for most of the day is not reflective of “real world” living.

In fact, very little about the structure of public school socialization prepares kids for real world living.

Traditional school socialization perpetuates a culture of peer orientation, which isn’t one of our goals for our kids.

Our kids have friends. Good friends. And we think that’s really, really important. But their primary attachment is to their family, which is what we want for them.

Not that parents can’t maintain a family orientation with kids in school, but I think homeschooling does make it easier.

Psychologist Gordon Neufeld wrote a whole book about the culture of peer orientation, Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, that solidified our feelings on this aspect of socialization.

We want our kids to be mentored primarily by parents and elders, not each other.

I’m not generally one to look at the olden days with rose-colored glasses, but that natural order of mentorship is one thing I lament losing in our modern society.


A lot of public schooled kids are weird, too

I think what many people mean by the socialization question is, “Aren’t you afraid your kid’s going to be socially backwards?”

I’ll admit it, when I was young, I thought homeschoolers were weird, too. They usually aren’t totally up on pop culture. They often have interests that fall outside of the mainstream. They don’t know all the jokes that get passed around the playground.

Coming from a public school mindset myself, those things used to seem “backwards” to me, too.

But really? I mean, really? Who cares?

All of that stuff is pretty pointless in the big picture. I’d rather my kids find and follow a passion that might not be “cool” than spend their time and energy trying to fit into some kind of arbitrary social mold.

Besides, I’ve known some pretty “weird” and “socially backwards” public schooled kids, too. At least as homeschoolers, our kids can be different without feeling strange or being labeled as such.

So when people ask, “Don’t you worry about socialization?” my response is a simple and confident “Nope. Not in the least.”

I might worry about their study habits or tendency to sleep in too late, but socialization?

Nah, we’re good.

Have you ever gotten the socialization question? How did you respond?

About Annie Reneau

Annie Reneau is a homeschooling mom of three, who somehow convinced her family to store everything that wouldn't fit in their Honda Pilot to travel the U.S. as digital nomads for a year. She writes about the hilarity and horror of motherhood and her family's traveling adventures at Motherhood and More.


  1. I wish people on the non homeschooling side of the fence got this concept. I am only asked this question when I am in a social situation and my kids are socializing. It is usually stated like this, “Your kids are so (nice, sweet, polite, talented, calm, organized) but…. aren’t you worried that they are not getting enough socialization?”. This week alone my kids are putting in 24 hours at the dance studio. Actually, I am worried that they are getting to much socialization and not enough school work done.
    Blessings, Dawn

    • Yes, we run into the too much socialization/not enough school work done dilemma frequently. I think you’d have to live under a rock or be a complete hermit or live someplace really isolated to not have plenty of social interaction.
      Annie Reneau’s latest post: Meeting Pete Carroll

      • I am new to homeschooling this year, we decided to homeschool our nine year old, third grader due to health reasons. She was entitled to “homebound” instruction (an hour per day missed) but it turned out that it wasn’t enough. Without getting into the complications of homeshooling a sick child…I do want to say that I agree with your post. It irks me when we are asked these same questions because I agree it is a fallacy. I do not think it’s school vs. homeschool that makes socializing an issue as we have been at both.
        My daughter is outgoing and has no trouble speaking to people of all ages and has had no trouble with children her own age when given the opportunity. In our experience through K-2 in public school, my daughter who is an only child, did not make a ton of true friends. I’d say the most she made were acquaintances. No one responded to requests for play dates, no one called when numbers were exchanged. I wasn’t the only parent who experienced this lack of social opportunities IN SCHOOL. The majority of parents that I met worked, had multiple other children in the same or other schools or socialized only within the extra-curricular activities that they were in.
        BUT, what I don’t agree with is your comment “I think you’d have to live under a rock or be a complete hermit or live someplace really isolated to not have plenty of social interaction.” You were speaking of homeschoolers in this instance.
        We don’t live under a rock. We don’t choose to be hermits and we don’t live in an isolated area. But we struggle terribly with the opportunity for socialization, NOT with her ability to socialize. Some of it is logistics…we have no close family, the family we do have including grandparents still work, she has no cousins and the neighbor children are in school all day then off to activities. Due to her health we are not free to be in large groups all the time due to her weakened immune system and when there are opportunities, she is not always well enough to attend or commit. We live in a highly populated state in a county with little resources for homeschoolers. No one wants to hang out here at our house in the summer when they can be outside at the playground or in a pool or at the beach (I’m speaking of when public school is out for break)
        Just wanted to say that there are other circumstances that lend to having difficulty socializing that have nothing to do with whether we homeschool or not.
        My daughter has one school friend that she sees every few months when her mom isn’t working. Otherwise her friend goes into the before and after school and summer program. We have put ourselves out there many, many times when she was well and I have to say that sometimes it’s just not that easy even for a homeschool family to find people to socialize with. I envy you and the others who say they have ample opportunities.
        In defense of homeschooling taking a bad rap, I’ve no doubt we might still be in the same situation if she had continued in school or that she might feel as awkward through the years with all the bullying or competitiveness among her peers so again I will say it isn’t homeschool that is the problem and I wish it wouldn’t continue to have that reputation. And I have no doubt our decision was the best one for us. I guess I wish people could see it’s not always as black and white for everyone and that there are still homeschooled children who in fact struggle with this issue who are not living under a rock or hiding.

        • MJ, I don’t think that phrase was meant to offend–not to speak for the author–but I do empathize. We homeschool in a rural area. We actually live in the country, which means my kids can’t walk out the door and find people with whom to socialize. Also, since it is a rural community, a lot of social activities centers around school, school extracurriculars and, let’s face it, school cliques (yes, parents have them, too!). I’ve had people who were friendly with our family for years withdraw emotionally, if not physically, when they discovered we homeschool. So, though I do feel my kids are plenty “socialized,” I understand that it can sometimes take an extreme amount of effort to get them those play dates and interactions. ..especially if health is an issue. I only pray that things will get easier for you as you continue!

      • Karen Felling says:

        Us, too! My husband and I are social “to a fault” (i.e., has been a downfall for esp me … super people-oriented) and so i havent worried about my kids’ socialization as a homeschooling family 🙂 our social and activities schedule is FULL … sometimes too much so 😉 Homeschooling has helped me, uber-social easily distracted mom, to buckle down, use my time wisely and get things accomplished st home that were/are woefully behind (paperwork)! Thank you for this encouraging article!

    • Kristina says:

      Interesting, someone asked me the other day when we were in a social atmosphere also. I didn’t even think about it at the time. I explained to her that it’s simply not a true statement about homeschoolers and as a matter of fact, we are over socialized. I guess some people think sitting quietly from 8-2, with 20 minutes of recess, 30 minutes of lunch and occasional groupings is considered socializing.

  2. I needed this today. Yesterday my son was lamenting that he had no friends “in the whole world!” (he does, but his sister knows them too so he doesn’t count them;) and it sent me into a doubt tailspin. I am getting him involved in his own things but that parental guilt can be overwhelming

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Well said. I really appreciate how you explained your thoughts on this. It is going to really help me when I explain to my family how homeschooling will be best for my son.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! While my husband has been on board for some time now (he’s a middle school teacher of some very poorly socialized pre-teens right now), the problem with homeschooling originally was the “Socialization issue.” I would rather have the experience parenting my own child and learning along with them than sending them to school to learn socially accepted “behavior” from peers whose two similarities to them are age and economic class of their parents. (Our districts zone by income level.) I don’t mean to bash public school kids in the least; please don’t take that from my comment! I appreciate seeing the views of a long-time homeschooler like yourself. I am looking forward to my children’s schooling at home, and I have been on the lookout for how I ought to explain some things to family who don’t quite understand the idea. Thank you for your experience!

  5. I couldn’t agree more with everything in this post. My kids actually know what they are missing-out-on in public schools because we didn’t always homeschool, and believe me, they experienced enough bullying and other public school “socialization” to last a lifetime. Oh the stories they could tell! No, we don’t miss that kind of socialization one bit. What gets me is how often I still hear the socialization question when we are a family who moves around a lot and have lived in other countries! What it seems to come down to is that a lot of people simply can’t fathom how a child can be social and have friends unless they go to school.
    Camie’s latest post: Curriculum Finds- Free Online Resources For Kids

  6. Even those of us who’ve homeschooled for a decade need to be reminded of this. My oldest is a young teen and he’s feeling “different” in his youth group because all the other kids go to public school and speak the same language. He’s tempted to blame his feeling isolated on being homeschooled and this gets to me, if I let it. I have to remind myself that some of the ways in which my son is different from his peers are the very things I wanted to be different! It may be hard for him right now, but it’s helping him navigate the world in a healthier, more holistic way.
    Hannah’s latest post: The Mini Re-Entry: How to Return to America After Leaving

    • That can be hard, when THEY feel different or awkward because they’re homeschooled. But I always try to remember with the teens especially that EVERYONE at that age feels awkward and out of place sometimes.
      Annie Reneau’s latest post: Meeting Pete Carroll

      • Christin says:

        You are absolutely right, most teens feel awkward and out of place no matter how they obtain their education! We have experienced it all with our children. A wonderful public school, not so great public school (which made us turn to homeschooling) and even an amazing private international school! When we returned back to the USA, my middle school daughter requested a return to homeschooling and we felt it offered a good transition during our move. Our then 9th grade daughter was not so excited about it, but agreed. After one year of homeschooling she requested to go into a private Christian school. We agreed, and she is now a Junior in that high school. Despite being an amazing student with a 4.01 GPA, friends and other talents, this child still feels awkward and thinks she doesn’t have any friends!!! See, it has nothing to do with homeschooling, it is all about the individual and their own perception. Right now my daughter’s perception is that her life would have been better if we would not have ever moved. We had no choice, we have made the best of what we were given. (The other two daughters are very contented homeschoolers.)

    • Melissa says:

      Thats a really great comment for who hasnt been there yet. Does your son also see the positive side?

  7. Thank you! This came on the eve of a major turning point in our lives. I finished my first year of homeschooling. Although we made some major strides, there were still some things I didn’t get to. Of course I still have time but they are heading off for vacation with the grandparents next. I really thought I was doing horrible in the socialization part but I think I’m okay. My children interact very well with others and older children. We are making new friends and I think that’s really great for them. I had gotten discouraged with a lot of outsiders stating what they believe and I admit I started to consider that maybe my kids wouldn’t be okay, maybe they would miss all the good things school has to offer. I am reminded by your work that it’s not the case. Thank you again.

  8. Oh this was SO good. I was just thinking about this yesterday and today because I got asked (again) and had to explain these concepts without sounding rude.
    I, like Dawn, also feel they get too much socialization and not enough work done! hah!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M’s latest post: Ft. Langley Living Museum

  9. This is outstanding! We homeschool our four, ages 6, 8, 11, and 13. Children in public school aren’t all that happy these days…many of them. All the kids in our neighborhood wish I could homeschool them, too. That’s telling. The bullying is out of control and there’s no easy solution. I don’t envy the teachers and administrators who have to problem solve over this distressing, multi-faceted issue.

    We don’t have time for a lot of homeschooling events, but my kids have chronic health issues that have us socializing with medical personnnel. They see other children at church and in the neighborhood. They don’t need to see other kids everyday, and in my opinion they don’t need a super-close bosom buddy friend, like they might see portrayed in some kids’ movies. Family is supposed to be the primary influence and our housemates are the best bosom-buddies we could possibly have! When God provides a really good friend, that means he deemed it a necessary blessing. When he doesn’t, we should encourage our children to trust God in this, as in all things.

    Wonderful article! Thank you.

  10. THANK YOU. I love pretty much everything Motherhood and More writes, but this one hit hard for me in particular. Socialization? Are you kidding me?? My son works one day a week at his grandparent’s store, where he socializes with his 20-something cousin and his wife (who are in the process of taking over the family business) and his grand parents. He socializes with a multitude of customers, from different backgrounds, world views, and walks of life. He socializes with his own friends, both online and in person. Right now he’s in the process of watching Supernatural on Netflix with one of his besties- who happens to live in California. On the weekend, his life-time best friend will probably be here, and they’ll be riding bikes and throwing a ball around in the yard.

    What am I more concerned with? That he gets his quota of “socialization”, or that he is prepared for adult life, by having a wide, well-rounded variety of experiences as a teen and young adult?

    Public school, for us, was a nightmare. It’s not the case for everyone, but for us, homeschooling is the right way to go. When people ask me “what about socialization?” I remind them that I had to medicate my kid, with anxiety meds that are designed for soldiers fresh from war suffering from PTSD, to get him through the day.

    Socialization is the LEAST of my worries.
    Life With Teens and Other Wild Things’s latest post: The Three Bears and CPS- A Mixed Up, (but true) Fairytale

  11. Katie S says:

    I don’t currently homeschool (officially or exclusively) but would love to at some point. We are planning to switch from an awesome Charlotte Mason private school to a public school. Our family feels in a Christian bubble and we desire to teach our kids to love and reach out to people who believe differently. How do you full time homeschoolers build sting friendships with people outside of your faith tradition? How do you fulfill the Great Commission as a family?

    • Katie S says:

      *strong friendships

      • Building strong relationships outside of our faith tradition is no problem for us. There are only a handful of homeschool families that go to my church and we really don’t get together very often because our kids’ age ranges are so different and we’re all so busy with our own lives. I appreciate the friendship and (mostly online) support of these moms, but our kids don’t interact much outside of church.
        Instead, I’ve joined an active homeschool community that I met through the site meetup.com. We all come from incredibly varied faith traditions: different Christian denominations (Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, nondenom), Jewish, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic. Religion is hardly ever a topic of conversation (we focus on what we do have in common-homeschooling and wanting what’s best for our kids). When religion does come up, we are always very respectful of each other. I think this is very important for our kids to observe.

      • Katie S., I hear your heart about the Great Commission and our role on this earth as witnesses for the Kingdom of Christ. So, I will focus on answering your Qs, Who do we fulfill this as fultime home educators? First, I want to say … I believe each family has a calling, and some have, yes, been called *As Missionaries* to their public school. I personally admire my nephew and his wife – he and his wife both graduated from a tiny, private church co-op school where their mothers taught or were aides. (Back in the 70s, 80s, this was the closet to homeschooling in our area). Now, my nephew and wife work together to support their two children IN the public school AS missionaries. Their son is an incredible young man, of many talents, great initiative, and a great testimony and leadership among his classmates. Their daughter, sadly, is mostly under the influence of the popularity/boyfriend games that reign supreme among most school girls. She has a testimony also, but it’s ‘shaky’ at best, and my heart wishes they could have felt called to homeschool her. Yet! I know God is not finished with her yet, or with His call on her life. So, that is one viewpoint of the mission field of the public school. Our family followed a strong call to homeschool precisely *because* we knew that our oldest son was not ready to be a missionary in the public middle school. Rather, he needed many more years of Biblical evangelism and discipleship. In fact, he is now a successful, professional 30something that remains a central cry in this mother’s prayers. His four younger siblings (we homeschooled all five) have definitely followed a call to the Great commission, in various ways wherever they have landed as adults. But, let me go back in time a decade or two. While homeschooling, our mission fields were what God put before my husband, and we followed him as his mission team. Including: 4-H club gave our kids new friends and opportunities to be witnesses, as officers of the club, or in their projects, or actually ‘preaching.’ Our family was part of new club that decided at the beginning they wanted to fill *all* possible club offices, including Chaplain. (so everyone got to be elected for something) Our second-born, very shy son was elected the first Chaplain (against his will). With encouragement from all of us, he blossomed into a real-deal preacher. Some of his devotions scattered a wide swath of seeds among the wide backgrounds of the club members. Also, we worked a food vendor shack at a local historic village: business skills class for the kids but also a mission field (we portrayed a quazi ‘Little House family’ as we served our customers during park events. ON Sundays, we posted a sign that we had “gone to worship” and would return in the afternoon.) Gardening and crafting projects led my husband into the local farmer’s market, where our family grew rather famous but mostly my husband became known as “the preacher gardener” and was respected as such. We invited local university students to our home for holiday meals, usually foreign students. Post 9-1-1, we hosted a pair of Saudi brothers from the nearby university. We had a wonderful evening, with deep discussions of culture, religions, eternity and the person of Christ. They were awed by our family, very attracted to our testimony. We pray for the seeds that were planted. As for the local public school, we shared the faith there, also. Often, the ‘mission field’ was neighbor children that God brought into our circle. The home nextdoor to us was rented by several single moms during our homeschooling years. Each time, their children were looking for friends and found acceptance and Christian love in our backyard, and in our home. They were often the children that were unwanted or unsuccessful in the public school, the “least of these.” Many seeds were planted; a couple amazing stories of life change could be told if I had time. Finally …. our family writes and publishes things. We hosted a homeschool journalism club for a couple years, cause husband wanted our kids to be writing “for a purpose”. The club’s monthly newsmag was written and edited by ours and nearby homeschooled students, an awesome experience. Copies were delivered to local libraries, shared with pastors, grandparents, ‘doubters’, etc. (frequent response: “This was done by homeschool KIDS?” librarians: “can we have more copies?”) Now that our children are adults and my husband has been called home to heaven, I am gathering together pieces of his writing, his poems, favorite scriptures, favorite hymns and Passion play – to publish a small memoir. I plan to share this memoir as “book of remembrance” for my children, but most important: to share with the wide, wide circle of people who knew and loved my husband, but are not yet believers. As someone else commented, a missionary going to a foreign country studies and prepares themselves for several years before moving to that foreign mission field. A family, like my nephew and wife, who feel called to the mission of the public school must be prepared to make their afterschool hours at home the equivalent of a bible college missions-training program. BUT< home education does not diminish the oppotunities to be salt and light. Rather, we can be *more available* when the Lord calls or opens a door to share the faith. We are not controlled by the 'box' of society expectations or the public school lifestyle schedule. As parents carrying out Deut. 6 and 11, and Psalms 127, we build a heritage for our children to follow in *our* footsteps while we follow the Lord with the Great Commission. Some homeschool families travel or actually go on foreign missions. Others prepare music or other evangelism tools and travel together, presenting the word. While we are following the Great Commission, and mentoring them with with the Word and their homeschool studies, we are sharpening their "arrow" Ps 127:4. The 'friendships' and socialization of the public school is a force that usually works to dull our children's arrows. Please be sure that God is truly calling your family to the public school As Missionaries, and be prepared to give them missionary Bible college at home for their support, and be sure that your *children* are being called to that public-school mission field, also.

    • We believe that our primary mission field right now IS our family; these sweet little sinners living here with us need the gospel, too, and our job is to disciple them in a Deuteronomy 6 style. We choose to keep the kiddos home because the influence of six to eight hours somewhere else (whether public or private school) is so much for them to handle. I’ve often wondered, too, whether I’m just being selfish keeping them home, or preventing them from being lights in a dark place, but then I remember that we send would-be missionaries to college first and my children are not prepared yet to withstand that much peer and academic pressure that buffet against what we believe and are trying to teach at home.

      I think what you ask is the key about homeschooling: what do we do *as a family*? I’ll be honest: in our family, we haven’t found any particular niche or ministry outside our church, but we pray that, as a family, others will see the love within our family and wonder about it, that our family togetherness will be our witness. Our kids are seven and under, so I’m okay with that being our primary focus, and as they grow and mature, we can branch out into other ministries. For now, the neighborhood kids are our family mission field.

    • Random Rachel says:

      You are only in as much of a bubble as you put yourself in. In my area there are tons of homeschoolers (even more so in the last 2 years) and many, many opportunities for home school activities with people from many backgrounds. Even at the co-op we participate in that is hosted by a church, there are a variety of different backgrounds of families represented. And there are tons of secular programs like sports, scouts, libraries, programs run by the parks, etc that you can be involved in, if you want.
      And like the author mentions, when you leave the house you run into people. My son regularly chats with our mail lady, the cashiers, our neighbors, etc.

  12. Great article. At cub scouts a little while ago, I observed my son try to strike up a conversation with a public-schooled boy four years older than himself. That boy didn’t say anything, but returned a strange look that I knew meant, “Don’t you know that eight year-olds aren’t supposed to talk to twelve year-olds?” My son shrugged it off and moved on to someone more willing.
    It struck me that the other boy might remember my son as “the weird homeschooled kid” when really he was the one being anti-social. I remembered back in high school I knew a homeschooled girl from church who I thought a little weird because she never tried to talk to me, but I realized I never tried to talk to her either. I wonder how common that kind of experience is.
    Also a significant factor in socialization is my kids can actually talk to each other and mom all day, and collaborate and cooperate whenever it suits them without it being considered cheating. This much more closely mimics real life than a school setting does.

    • I so agree with this comment! One of the reasons I was turned ON to homeschooling was because I saw how the kids (from baby to teenagers) interacted with each other. It was encouraging to see “old” kids playing with the youngest kids, and I thought ‘that kind of interaction never happens in schools, even a grade apart’.
      Sarah M’s latest post: Ft. Langley Living Museum

    • Maria Payan says:

      My daughter is only 4 years old but she can hold a conversation with anyone. During our day we talk about anything she is interested in… I also make sure to use at least 2 or 3 new words a day, ask her if she knows what it means and then explain the word to her, tell her to say the word and repeat what it means. I only have the one child but I tend to think that not too many 4 years old know there is a black hole at the center of galaxies and that we live in the Milky Way galaxy. I’ve seen her approach adults and kids no matter what the age and start up a conversation. I have no idea what she’s talking about but I have every confidence that she can hold up her end without a problem. That’s they kind of social interaction you’d never get in public school.

  13. Forget us..
    School is a cauldron of ANTI-socialization.
    Age segregation, no talking out of turn, conformity, teasing, bullying, forced association, etc.
    I’m more concerned about THEM than my own.
    HomeschoolDad’s latest post: Relaxing in Phuket, Thailand

  14. Truly! This was my mom’s #1 concern when we started homeschooling. I explained to her that the socialization i received in school wls not good. Did I want my kids subjected to that? No. Did being in school help me be less awkward? No – it exacerbated the situation. I was in school and awkward. Now I’m out of school and awkward. I host parties centered around children’s books because I still feel best reading! Love that escape…
    It’s all good in the hood. With homeschooling, my kids can totally excel, get lost in rabbit trails, or chill depending on the subject and time of day. It’s called freedom! It tastes nice.
    I am so grateful we have this choice in our country. I was thankful for our run of it. Maybe we will be led to do it again. I hope so! Thanks for this post!

  15. I love this post! I do get asked frequently about my kids’ socialization. With a 6th on the way I often will tell people my kids get plenty of socialization with each other. We also do outside activities, but when you have a large family, socialization is not a problem at all.
    Emmie’s latest post: How Can We Be Prepared Spiritually?

  16. Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I am on the road to homeschooling my three girls and this has been the primary question that I have been asked. “Aren’t you worried about their social skills?” In my experience, school is a breeding ground for chronic low self-esteem , poor examples from peers and poor care from teachers. This, of course, is not always the case, but when your school experience amounts to you thinking you’re too stupid to pursue your dreams, when your teachers return your work to you and says in front of the class “this is nonsense,” with no other explanation or feedback, when the “in-crowd” makes fun of the way you look and dress – should that really be counted as a valuable experience? I don’t think so. This was highschool for me and I went to a private school. So am I worried about the “social skills” my children might learn from a school setting? Not even a little!!

    • Maria Payan says:

      My experience in school was very similar to yours. And that was the number one reason why I made the decision when I was 17 years old to homeschool any future children that I might have. To this day (I’m 48 years old), I have an extremely difficult time dealing with social situations. Most times I can “get by” but I want my daughter to experience all life has to offer and not just “get by”.

  17. Tenney Singer says:

    I always answer that question with one of my own: since the definition of socialization is to prepare a child for society, who would prepare my child better? A group of peers, or his parents?

  18. Hi Anne,
    I am also a mother of 3 and I homeschooled my 3 daughters (14, 12 and 10) until they were 11 and my youngest 9 1/2. And if i have to say that the S word use to make me feel like i was depriving my children from a healthier life and just hit me hard on the days i really could have used some support…
    But take it from me, now that my children are all in school- the S word holds no impact. I have never seen so many children struggling socially in all of my life…it is heartbreaking what social behavior is deemed the norm and how many children are suffering as a result. And now other parents and teachers all tell me how amazing my girls are, without acknowledging that homeschooling had anything to do with it. So let it all go and just go with your gut because you are giving your children a gift for life, and you deserve to be empowered for that. Keep going mama <3

  19. Maria Payan says:

    My daughter is 4 years old but I knew I was going to homeschool my future kids since I was 17 years old. It took me 22 years to have a baby so I had a lot of time to research and prepare. When people ask me “the” question, I always say talk to her and then you tell me if she’s backwards or weird. After my own horrible experience in public elementary school, I would NEVER talk to anyone. To this day I suffer from social phobia and anxiety because of it. Now I watch my daughter interact with people of all ages, colors, creeds, backgrounds and I’m so glad that I made the decision to homeschool. She can have a conversation with just about anyone. We were at the Vet’s office and she walked up to an elderly gentleman and started asking questions about his dog. Then she proceed to tell him about our pets, how we just lost two of our older pets and that in a few weeks we would be getting another puppy. I still can’t do that now as an adult… I think the differences between our “socialization” illustrates perfectly why you should homeschool your children. And I think the next time someone asks me about socialization, I might just have to “borrow” your answer… keep it short and sweet. It will keep me from feeling like I have to justify to complete strangers why I homeschool.

  20. My teenagers know how to hold a baby and use appropriate baby talk. They can entertain a toddler, play with a child, engage their peers, and hold a conversation with an adult. They were in public school for a little while and didn’t learn ANY of that there (not even engaging their peers). Even schools who have a psychologist come in to teach socialization skills can’t compete with real world experience and loving parental guidance.

  21. Yes, I got that question before I even started homeschooling,I was just talking about the reasons why I wanted to do it . I responded with well we do plenty outside the house. She goes to swim lessons, has friends, go to the local library for story time, etc… we do many things outside the home for socialization. They didn’t say much after that. I LOVE this blog tho! It does a great job going thru the socialization “label”

  22. Great article. Homeschooling 2 of my 3 kids. Socialization was my thought too, when introduced to the idea almost 20 years ago. I love homeschooling my kids! I don’t think it ever occurs to people that your family and extended family is your first lesson in socialization. Siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…..these are the people who I want my kids to socialize with (not that there aren’t many others!) But family get togethers are a huge part of our life. My friend once asked me a question, in response to my ignorant socialization question, “are you going to lock you kids up, and never let them out of their rooms?” Well, no of course not. Then, she wisely stated, your kids will be fine socially. And besides that, if they aren’t all that great socially, putting them in public school isn’t likely to change that. Most importantly, for our family is the foundation of OUR values first and instilling a love for learning. I have no agenda, except a lot of love for my children and a genuine heart to guide them through the failures and successes.

  23. You literally took the words out of my mouth. I have to remind myself to keep my eyeballs in place each time I’m asked about my children’s “socialization”! Over the past month my youngest (11 yr old daughter) has had several friends over for playdates/sleepovers and she and I both have noticed something very disturbing. This past weekend she finally asked me if I could impose a time limit rule on electronics because every single child that she had over spent more time with their iPad/phone/kindle than they did her. For my child who eagerly anticipates having friends over to play games/legos/Nerf wars/etc, this is incredibly disappointing. These kids can barely take their eyes off of a screen long enough to answer a question. It’s not that we don’t use electronics, we do every day & enjoy movies regularly, but when time can be spent in face to face relationship & activity that’s what we do. What I’ve realized is that public school socialization has absolutely nothing to do with being able to have a relationship with people, it’s all about fitting into what I think of as the “playground mentality”. I’m so very thankful that my kids have experience both school settings and recognize the difference but it saddens me that this is what our culture has accepted as a substitute for relationships. I’m honestly on the same page as some of the other parents here, I’m concerned more for my child’s over-socialization due to too many activities rather than her becoming an outcast who can’t communicate. I am so over being asked this question, isn’t it our job to teach our children to communicate and be involved?

    • zinaida koroleva says:

      What if parents not being involved themself and can’t teach children to communicate?
      How kids being all the time only at home to be involved and communicate, home school don’t teach them! Kids (my two grand daughters – 10 and 11,5) every days and all day by themself on the computers on the beds. What can happened to them at age 16 and up ?

  24. I’ve been homeschooling for 4 years. DD went to K & 1st at a public school, then homeschooled for 3 yrs and then went to a private school where DH teaches this past year. Our boys have only ever been homeschooled (just finished K & 3rd). DH is becoming anti-homeschool since our kids don’t have any close friends. DD has a good friend from school, but that’s it. They have friends that they see when we go to different homeschool activities, but not ones that they would invite over. To me it’s not an issue – I never had a lot of friends and didn’t have a lot of play dates as a kid. DH had lots of cousins around all the time so he had built-in friends. He’s really pushing for all of our kids to go to the school where he teaches, but I’m not so sure. It’s totally workbook based. The kids sit in cubbies and do their book work all day. When they finish their assigned pages, they can read, play on the computers (if they’re set-up/working) or help with the younger kids. They do have art, music, and gym for specials. To me it seems very boring and not at all good for encouraging learning. DH thinks that I’m totally biased and not seeing the harm I’m doing by keeping the kids home. 🙁

    • Mona: let me tell you about my experiences in school. My mom taught me to read at age 3 and a half. By 4 I read a good amount of our house library(our internet at the time). I always loved to read and when finally I got to PK( my birthday is on Jan, so they did not let me get into PK until August that I was almost 6). But reading since 3.5, I read the whole PK workbook the first day , and then I had nothing to do in the whole year but play and getting bored. Same happened to me in 1st and 2nd grade. The teachers told my mom to try me to get some tests to advance a few grades , and she, on the stupid fears of some ” he may get confused ” syndrome , (or the reality that she needed a place for me to stay during the day and that she have been afraid her whole life of everything), decided to let me go in the “normal” way. I almost never studied at home and always got straight A’s, because the material was too slow for me, and I could not connect with the other kids that were still trying to understand things that I already knew. It took almost to 6 grade for them to be at my level . It was a lost of time that I regret my whole life , and it impacted me in the next years of middle and high school. When you see the school curriculum at that time and analyze it, it was the same for the first 3 grades, then the same from 4 to 6 , and on and on until you graduate high school. Only a few classes changing the rest was spanish, english ,math and social history studies, many times repeated or at least the same pattern repeated. I would have learned so much more at home with that big library we had and some guidance from an adult. So much more than what I learned at school . At the end I started college , but at the middle of my program opted for a technical career that I like more, and made double the money everyone was making right from the start. It also gave me the opportunity to travel and later on , when the internet came to be, I learned so much more than any school could ever teach me. The socialization part is Bs, because even if I had a few good friends in high school , mostly once we parted ways after high school we rarely saw each other, and when I really needed someone they were not there either. The rest of friends I made at work and on my daily activities once adult. And even so, when I go to FB and see the people from HS, it is like the really never grew in their mindset at all. So if you want your kids to socialize with people that they may never see again and that most probably wont ever contribute anything positive to their lives then leave them at regular school. But right now they have more opportunities by homeschooling. The most they could get from high school is 1 or 2 real lifelong friends, and that wont be stricly necessary. People grow much more once they start to work and they marry , so they will always have the opportunity to make friends.Just my 2 cents.

  25. Have I heard this question? Not more than a thousand times!
    I love your post, and referred to it, and it’s a really hot topic, probably every home schooler has had to deal with it.
    Socialization was always the least of my concerns. I love one person’s response. “Yes, it’s a huge problem. I’m trying to cut back.”

    It’s a big world out there. Let kids out of the cloister, and they’ll socialize with everybody. Humans are inherently social beings; socialization is as natural as walking and talking. Actually, socialization is talking – and talking is one thing you’re not allowed to do in the cloistered environments of schools.
    Papa Libertarian’s latest post: Grandpa’s Tale

  26. I am a grandmother of six now and my own three children went to public school. I wish I had homeschooled them. When you consider the time they spend with their friends vs. the time they spend with you, it’s no wonder they are so highly influenced by their friends. Mostly, the friends’ homes did not have the same values as ours had. My daughters plan to homeschool their children as both daughters are certified teachers although they do not work outside the home. I wish more moms would homeschool their kids and avoid all the bad things they pick up so young in public schools or private schools.
    Also, if there is one book that you and your homeschoolers read this year, make sure it’s “Muscle and a Shovel” by Michael J Shank. Great for class discussions too. You will love it!!

  27. Lorna Buckley says:

    After looking up unsocialised on Wikipedia and saying to people well have you ever looked up the opposite? As I have and I now there is absolutely nothing g to worry about…It has defused and has stopped repetition of…used it on the new LE HE Lady when she phoned and she mentioned it was more to see whether the children were socialised..I replied well if you spare the time to look up the unsosialised on Wikipedia I think you will agree you will be pretty hard pressed to find any child which is not socialised…when she came out she told me she has now removed it as one of the check points…lol…It’s a really good way as if you actually do look it up it is far more in depth than people presume and further more it is really hard not to be socialised even in the most remote and smallest community. ……
    “Against the question how does you child socialise??

  28. Elsie K says:

    I am an introvert so I do worry about socialization. It’s difficult for me to get out and do the meet and greet with other homeschoolers and their parents, the meetups, the different groups, etc. It’s tiring, drains me emotionally, we still haven’t found anyone we click with and I always come back home wondering why I feel it’s necessary. I’m on my first year of homeschooling (5 yr old) so this just makes the next several years look so very dim.

    We do a lot of things as a family. We see the grandparents (the ones who work and the ones who don’t). We have some cousins nearby (but they’re in school, of course). I do realize that socialization isn’t just being with children in his own peer group, but even within homeschooling communities there is a lot of pressure to find your group, people, co-op, etc. which has me wondering how necessary all of that really is as well.
    I am hopeful that as my child gets older he can participate in more activities on his own without me instigating everything or where he can participate (so many activities in the community only allow children who are 7 or 8 and up). Homeschooling, from where I am now, looks much easier socially for slightly older children than for the youngest – but maybe the grass is always greener.

    • Jennifer Kruisenga says:

      There are many ways to fill the socializing “need” and as a seasoned homeschooler, I can attest that it can be daunting at times striving for the perfect balance between socializing and home life. I use to exhaust myself running from activity to homeschool group to church functions all in the pursuit of making sure my kids were well socialized. After years of that busy lifestyle, I took a good look at the toll it was taking on me personally, our family time and my time with my husband (as I was typically exhausted by the end of the day) and decided to cut back greatly on outside activities for a while. What I found was that as a family we really could do a good job entertaining one another and actually learned to prefer each other’s company. While my kids still maintain close friendships, I find they are choosing sibling groups. My girls, ages 16 and 13, have two sets of family “best friends” that have become like second family to us. Their ages range from 20(!) down to 13, and you’d never know the age gap between them without visually seeing the difference. Now when we decide to get together all of us end up refreshed, including the moms! Also, siblings are God’s gift to our children. And, even if they aren’t blessed with a half-dozen brothers and sisters (or more), they can have a whole lot of fun exploring, playing and learning together. Don’t feel the need to box yourself in with other’s definition of socializing. God gave your children to you and your husband and with that comes the freedom (and responsibility) to do what you feel is right for your family. Learning that just a couple of tried and true friends is worth all the school buses full of children in the world is PRICELESS. Be blessed and know that God is the one who called you to homeschool, so be encouraged – you are just the right mother for the job :)!

  29. This sounds like something my mother would have wrote. I’m 28 and don’t plan on talking to my mother ever again. I haven’t seen her in half a year, so I’m off to a good start.

    I was homeschooled, and as an adult I’ve come to realize that homeschooling was ultimately to my detriment. Mother refuses to accept that homeschooling harmed me and insists that I’m just a loser who messed up my own life. I’m not the only homeschooling ‘alumni’ who feels this way and has vowed to never homeschool. For every success story, I know people who are now in the ~30 age range now who ultimately suffered because of their parents decisions.

    Mother used to say the same thing — haha, socialization, such a crazy concern. When we leave the house, she talks to people! Look at her, she’s 10 and can hold conversations with adults! It’s all such a naive understanding of what socialization is and what is needed, and it’s usually people who attended public schools as kids who prattle this nonsense off.

    Talking to people is socialization like sniffing food is eating. The biggest problem with a lot of the ‘socialization’ that homeschool kids get is that they’re never far enough removed from their parents, and that absolutely stifles exploration and the development of self. When your parents are always there, or you’re with other parents who know your parents and who will absolutely report everything back to them, you have to stay within the confines of your parents’ sense of acceptability, otherwise you risk punishment. So any curiosities the kid has, anything they think or want to explore that their parents don’t agree with, they’re cut off from that. As a result, crucial aspects of one’s own sense of self and discovery of preferences and understanding is put on hold until adulthood is reached, and you end up behind all your peers.

    Another important aspect is shared cultural experiences. I’m almost 30, and I still feel like such a foreigner in my own culture, like a perpetual outsider. My peers all had experiences I never had and never will, they all talk about things from our childhood periods and I’m the only one who never knows what they’re talking about or can’t relate. They all listened to music I didn’t hear, watched things I never saw, had school experiences I’ll never know. But hey, I didn’t have to deal with public school bullies! That literally did jackshit for me.

    It’s always homeschooling parents who themselves were public schooled who sneer at these things like they don’t matter. You have no idea how much they matter because you had them. Yes, a ton of homeschoolers grow up awkward and weird and it’s not cutesy or funny or ‘individual’ like so many homeschooling parents think. It is sad and painful for the child and ultimately serves to limit and shape their lives.

    But whatever. Assuming this comment doesn’t get deleted at moderation, most of you will just dismiss it the same way my mother did so many years ago. Some of you will be fine and your kids will be fine, but some of you will end up like me and my mother — me stunted in a way I’m still struggling to overcome, and my mother cut off from her daughter, baffled and hurt but refusing to accept that she and her selfish decisions were the cause.

    I weep for your kids. Some of them will be irrecoverably damaged by your choices.

    • I’m so sorry this was your experience, Brittany, and I hope you find your path moving forward in a way that allows you to leave the painful parts of your past behind you. Blessings, Jamie

    • Brittany, I am grateful for your post.
      I am weighing out my options as to whether homeschool my boys or not. I am inspired to teach them, but after your post confirmed my very deeply held suspicions, I think I will just teach them what I want them to know/do what I want to do with them on weekends. Because children need the freedom to be away from their parents, their parents’ pre-selected and screened meetup groups, and their parents’ belief systems. (not interested in keeping my kids in any kind of ideological bubble) They need to experience their own little society with its own flaws, and to develop relationships with peers on their own, outside of mama’s watch. I am so glad you took the time to write about your experience, and I do hope that you find a way to ameliorate that imbalance in your own life. Thank you for sharing and you have made a positive difference !

      • It’s possible to accomplish all these goals while still homeschooling, too, Anna! We don’t know the ins and outs of Brittany’s unique situation, of course, but I’ve found that homeschooling has been one of the best ways for me to keep track of my children’s needs and heart issues, and a way to heal relationships. I hope you’ll feel empowered to make your decision without fear or worry as your guide, but with peace instead (& of course that could lead you to school or to homeschooling–either one could be right for you and yours!) Here’s a little something I wrote about fear that might help: http://simplehomeschool.net/the-worst-reason-to-homeschool/

  30. The first time I was challenged with a “socialization” quesition, I simply related the socialization experience of the day — our three sons (12, 10 and 8) had spent a half hour (of the workers’ lunch hour) peppering some power company workers about the repairs they were doing outside our home.
    I realized, though, that this accepted the premises of the challenger. More often, since, I simply ask, “Did you hear what you just asked? Is that the reason to have public schools?” And I work in eventually that the reason schooling in many places was extended to age 16, 17 or 18 during the depression was so that the men with families could have the available jobs and asking, “Do they look unsocialized to you?”

  31. Thank you so much for this thoughtful article. I was homeschooled K-12 and regularly quizzed about my “socialization.” I grew up in an era where people said, “what IS that?” in response to “homeschooled.” I found it awkward and uncomfortable to have this pointed question about my supposed lack of social activities posed to me so frequently just because I was homeschooled. None of my public and private school peers were interrogated like I was growing up. And I was frequently called out from the group when I was in a SOCIAL setting to explain myself and defend my “non-social” schooling. Now, looking back, I realize why I was uncomfortable. The pointed and accusatory way many of these questions were posed were simply rude and invasive. As if there were something wrong with me because I was out of the norm when it came to my learning environment. It was as if I were “guilty until proven innocent” of being…who knows what. Weird, maybe? Of course, I’m not including those people who asked out of a genuine interest in homeschooling. But in this day and age, as a GROWN woman, I still have this question posed to me. And used as a reason for NOT homeschooling. There are a myriad of reasons why families choose mainstream schooling versus homeschooling and every child and family is different. Choose what is best for your family. But in this horrifying era and culture of bullying and school shootings, I find it hard to believe that people would ask this question, first and foremost, “what about socialization?” when it comes to any consideration of homeschooling. Before considering issues that are pervasive and harmful, and even DEADLY, why do people continually ask this inane question with regard to homeschooling?

  32. We are working on another area of socialization here: asking for help. We have taught our children that they are not to speak to people that we as their parents don’t know . But that was for when they were smaller. Now I tell them that they are ready to take the next step-asking for help from a stranger. The strangers I have chosen are the people giving away free cookies at the bakery dept in the grocery store. My daughter is totally comfortable with this. My boys not so much. Still working on it. I also have them make their own purchases now too. Not all “socialization” is about peers in the same age group. Next step: Call a business on phone to ask for information. Such as hours open etc…

  33. Ashley Owens says:

    This has been really helpful. My husband and I are about to have our first in December or January (the due date is Dec 30th) and we have always talked about homeschooling. However, my mother-in-law is quite the wet blanket, constantly mentioning that our kids won’t be social enough, and with me planning on being a SAHM, we won’t have the finances. Though I constantly explain to her all the young adults she knows who are homeschooled, including a man whose father helped him start a business at 11 yrs old, myself, and many ministers we know who are very “social”.

  34. I am looking into homeschooling and want to start now in January. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t know how to teach my kids, for example, I suck at math, when it comes time to teach algebra and beyond. What do u do in a that situation? I also start thinking “will they have any friends/close friends?” In school, they develop friendships because they are with the kids all day, 5 days a week for like 8 years (I’m comparing this to myself, I went to a catholic school K-8). Homeschooling u don’t get that?! Is this right? How about graduation for kids. Do homeschoolers get graduations? I have one child in K and another in 4th grade and I would feel so bad my K son wouldn’t get a graduation and my other son did🙁. Just a couple of things that have me going back and forth.

  35. Christina Nichols says:

    I have a question. My niece was homeschooled and now she’s in college and she just lost her first job, mainly because she doesn’t know how to handle herself around her peers. She’s ridiculously boy-crazy (something she should have gone through in high school), she rarely says basic things like please and thank you, and she isn’t a great communicator. I know these things, because I know her former boss and she came to me out of concern. I worry about her and I don’t know how to tell her or her mother that she needs to learn to work with others her own age and how to talk to people. I don’t blame homeschooling alone, but I know that some of these things are things you learn in school. You have to or it’s a rough journey. I would like some advise on how to broach the subject or even any suggestions on how she can learn these things now. Thank you for your time.

  36. I read portions of this Blog and I can tell you from my experience, sadly, the “grown” homeschoolers I have encountered have some serious socially stifled behavior patterns. Things, or acts, I have seen elementary school children walk through, while working as a substitute teacher and teachers assistant in schools, are being “learned” by homeschooled “adults” who are in their mid-late twenties. As a matter of fact, I found your Blog, at 3:38AM, because I am seeking information concerning social issues I am encountering with two “adults” I am sharing an apartment with, and both were homeschooled in completely different locations in America. Sadly, I am baffled by behavior patterns that I do not expect to encounter with “grown” mature adults. But this is not my first time to experience this concern. I questioned the same social maturity issues, some years ago, as I worked with a VERY well educated teen. The student was accepted into college at sixteen years old and provided a full scholarship. Those fears were amazing, but working alongside of him, daily, was a different story. His charismatic personality was fabulous, but his devious explorative side, as he faced various types of people–who lived various lifestyle choices–caused SERIOUS concern. Co-workers noticed how he was exploring elementary inquiries, asking question and immaturely giggling about things that showed his inability to know who he was, but this behavior was appearing at a time, in his life, when he could have been living and starting to face more adult temptations. Basically, he did not know who he was! And yes, parents can defend and say all college kids go through such a learning time of finding themselves. Indeed they do, but they are finding themselves on a different level: drinking, making choices about a curfew, too much partying, or having to learn how to choose to study. But from my experience, the homeschoolers KNOW how to study and they do, but there seems to be an unspoken backwardness when in social settings.

    In addition to this, based on the realization that the child does not (always) know themselves, this tends to be an issue addressed by the parent. The socialization aspect experienced by the child reveals a defensive response parents feel THEY can answer for their homeschooled child. But to those of us outside of the homeschool world, who live and work with the adult homeschooler, we see this parental act of addressing the issue as another form of a lack of understanding the child experiences: they often cannot answer the question because that is the only world they know. Also, this parental intervention of providing answers to the social aspect of homeschooling a child reveals another sideaffect of the parent trying to homeschool socialization: parents, you cannot do this for the child; they must learn these skills on their own! And that is why I am wide awake at 4:15AM telling you from experience, please allow your homeschool child to spend as much time OUTSIDE of the home learning social norms that aid them in ADAPTING to the world around them. Currently, our society enjoys bright educated self-motivated adults that homeschooled children provide. But we also enjoy people who know themselves and can aid in building society rather than working and living, alongside of us, as spectators cautiously learning how to behave like the adults around them. In my current situation, the homeschoolers have found each other and they continually seek more adult homeschoolers to live and work with so that they do not feel socially inept and stifled while living and working in society.

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