Don't Worry About Socialization

by Wendy Priesnitz

One of the main concerns life learners hear about their home-based learning choice involves socialization. But, in reality, socialization is one of the many reasons families choose life learning! They cite the bullying and other negative socialization that happens in schools, and they observe how wonderfully well socialized life learners are.

When we think about socialization, we need to consider quality as well as quantity. How much social interaction do children actually require? What is the quality of the socialization at school compared to what is available outside of school? Do speaking and other social skills get as much attention as listening skills? What does "socialization" actually mean?

Life for children in school is public. They have virtually no time or space to which adults can be denied access. Children who find psychological privacy by daydreaming are labeled as inattentive or disinterested. On the other hand, life for unschooled children - even ones without siblings - is a mixture of personal and shared time, which allows them to get to know themselves, at the same time as they learn to value, yet be discriminating about, the time spent with others.

My observation of thousands of home educated children over the past 35 years suggests that another factor outweighs any kind of peer or sibling interaction in its influence on social development. Feelings of security and self confidence are created in children who have the freedom to venture into sophisticated social situations at their own speed. This positive self concept is nurtured by warm, loving interaction with parents who respect their children. As the main ingredients in a child's social development, these even outweigh the contribution of continued social contact in creating a child who functions well in society.

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