One of the main arguments that I’ve always heard against homeschooling is this idea that your kids are automatically going to grow up to be socially maladjusted if they don’t go to a regular school for the sake of their socialization during those critical years. It’s a miracle that humanity ever developed social skills before the twentieth century, if that’s the assumption that you make about life, the universe, and everything. Schools seem to produce plenty of socially maladjusted people as it is, so I’m not really sure where these people are coming from at the best of times. However, I really do want to take this argument on and give it its fair due, since then maybe it will be a fair fight and the argument will go away, satisfied that I didn’t cheat.
Is the typical school environment a great place to learn social skills? You spend a lot of time with people in such a way that doesn’t really reflect how things are in real life at all. Spending time coexisting with people of vastly different backgrounds in a way that gives everyone involved a lot of free time, and you’re all navigating a social environment that has too many people: that isn’t the real world. If your coworkers are acting like the girls from Mean Girls, you can quit. Your coworkers probably won’t do that, because they’re adults and they grew up. You won’t be forced to complete extracurricular activities with your coworkers unless you work for a particularly weird and old-fashioned company. The petty intrigues that seem so important in high school seem ridiculous to adults, who have actual responsibilities and things to worry about, which is going to cause them to regulate their behavior.
Basically, adulthood in our culture is like unlearning how to be a student in many ways. You have to unlearn what it’s like to have to do homework and other types of busywork for no pay. You have to get used to being an adult who gets proportionately rewarded for his or her contributions as opposed to a kid that either has a lot of potential or a kid that is squandering his or her potential, depending upon how good of a student that you were. You have to get used to a society in which there is no cafeteria or nurse’s station nearby, and you’re not earning grades for the sake of getting into college. My question is: why teach people to be students in this environment in the first place? If they can learn the material in other ways, shouldn’t they do that in a way that will actually prepare them for their real lives as adults?
Home-schooled kids can certainly learn to be social. I don’t know why people assume that ‘home-schooled’ means ‘they never see the light of day ever.’ I signed my kids up for a bunch of extracurricular activities that meet outside of our house, and they met a bunch of their friends through those programs. The only thing they missed out on was obsessing about the popular kids in school and getting bullied by the abused kids who wanted to prove that they were tough. Most of their experiences with kids their own age involved people who were all in the same activity group because they liked it, and people who their friends were friends with, which I liked. This also made things easier for me, since I was more likely to meet like-minded Mom friends. As long as your home isn’t a rock that your kids will live under until they’re twenty-six, you can home-school them to be social individuals.