“But What About Socialization?”

This is probably the most common question homeschoolers get. As a child, I was well schooled in how to reply to it. “Do you have any idea how many friends I have?” “Segregating children by age group is not a natural form of socialization.” “Socialization is just a code word for peer pressure.”

Today, I read blogs and articles by homeschoolers using these same arguments and insisting that socialization is no problem at all, and I want to scream. More than that, I want to bang my head against the wall.

You see, socialization matters. It is not a bogeyman or a silly question. It is important. And, it is an issue about which I am very passionate.

I arrived at college after being homeschooled through high school. I had had plenty of friends across a variety of age groups. I had been in homeschool co-ops and clubs, including a speech club. I had gone to political events and had spoken with reporters. I was articulate, well spoken, and outgoing. I thought I was socialized. I wasn’t.

The truth is, my first year of college was extremely painful. I had no idea how to interact with people who were different from me. I had no idea how to take criticism. I had no idea how to interact with those around me. I had no idea how to handle myself around large groups of people, or how to act in the ordinary social situations that come up at a large school. I had no idea how to handle someone not liking me. I had no idea how to function in a diverse society. I was incredibly awkward and felt extremely lost, and I cried more than you want to know.

You see, socialization is not about being able to carry on a sentence. Socialization isn’t about being able to make a friend. Socialization is about interacting with people who are different from you. It’s about learning how to deal with the bully or the “mean girl.” It’s about learning how to handle having people not like you. It’s about feeling put down by cliques, but learning to deal with it and surviving. It’s about growing a tough skin. It’s about handling playground politics. It’s about being friends with people who disagree with you. 

There is a second issue here too. Homeschooling made me into a cultural misfit. The things the girls I met in college talked about, I didn’t understand. The things they were excited about, I was ignorant of. I experienced – and still experience – a huge cultural disconnection. I’m not saying I wanted to conform or just be a clone of the girls I met in college, but I would have at least liked to understand what made them tick and to have been able to communicate with them on this level. As it was, I couldn’t. I didn’t understand their culture, I had no common experiences with them, I had no basis for communication or identification. I was an outsider looking in.

Wikipedia defines socialization as follows:

Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies. It may provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; a society develops a culture through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.

You see, socialization has nothing to do with whether you can make friends or hold a conversation. Socialization is about cultural understanding and cultural knowledge. It’s about having shared experiences and a shared system of symbols and languages. It’s about having things in common with those around you. It’s about a common culture. This is why public schools play such an important role in the socialization of our nation’s young. Public schools pass on our common traditions and disseminate our common culture.

In my experience, homeschoolers who laugh at the socialization question don’t have any idea what socialization actually is. They don’t understand the question, and they therefore bungle their answer. And every time I read another homeschool blog or website laughing off the socialization question, I want to bang my head against a wall.

Now, there are some who would say that, as such, socialization is a bad thing. They would argue that socialization is designed to turn children into robots. The problem with this argument is that socialization is not so much about conformity as about shared meaning and common knowledge. A person doesn’t have to accept every cultural value or live the way culture expects in order to be socialized. Instead, a well socialized individual simply needs to understand these things. Having a common culture and common experiences and traditions doesn’t erase our differences, it holds us together as a nation despite our differences.

Similarly, there are those who would argue that segregating children by age is not a good way to socialize. These individuals generally point out that public schools are a recent phenomenon and that children used to be socialized in their families and home communities. But this misses the point. Public schools may be a recent phenomenon, but they are still our reality. I understand that many people wish they could return to the past in some aspect or another, but the reality is that we have to live in and work within the present. Proclaiming that children used to be socialized differently is not going to change the fact that this is how children are socialized today. Wishing for the past does not erase the present.

Interestingly, the people I met in college were not the mindless conformers I had been taught to expect coming out of public schools, not in the least. Rather, they were intelligent, confident, and independent. The made a lie of my parents’ claims that public schools are factories that turn children into robots. It’s simply not true. Public schools don’t rob children of their individuality or dumb them down. Socialization isn’t about enforced conformity or pushing children into molds or turning out robots. Indeed, the friends I made in college, every one of them public schooled, were – and continue to be – inspirations to me. They knew how to handle themselves and they understood how to interact with those around them. The were confident and comfortable, and I envied them.

I sometimes wonder if one reason so many homeschool parents cannot seem to understand the real meaning of the socialization question is that, having been socialized themselves, they cannot imagine what it would be like to not be. They don’t understand what it feels like to be a foreigner in your own country. They don’t understand what it feels like to not be able to fit in. They don’t understand what it’s like to be robbed of the ability to be normal because they have the ability to be normal. Parents who homeschool may choose to be different, but their children have no such choice.

Those who are homeschooling for other reasons other than “sheltering” their children don’t get a free pass here. While their children will likely have an easier time adjusting than I did, they will still almost certainly face many of the same problems. The socialization issue is not specific to homeschoolers who shelter their children, but is, rather, common to all homeschoolers. These other homeschoolers, like their more sheltered counterparts, will also not have to learn to handle playground politics and will certainly not have the common experiences of pep rallies or bad social studies teachers. There is some element of dealing with other people that they will miss and a piece of our common culture they will not experience. And while homeschool parents may not see these things as important, their children, like me, may disagree.

Am I arguing that no one should ever homeschool? Not necessarily. I don’t know every situation, and every family is different. I would not presume to speak for every family. What I am arguing is that parents who homeschool need to take the socialization question seriously rather than laughing it off. They need to be aware of the potential socialization problems their children may face and take steps to mitigate them. Most of all, homeschool parents need to understand what socialization is and why it is important, and they need to be fully aware of what they are doing when they remove their children from the public schools.

Socialization is actually the #1 reason I will be putting my daughter in public school when she turns five. Honest.

Note: If you are a homeschooler and you dislike what you have read here, please don’t get all defensive. I am not trying to judge, simply to share my experiences. I was homeschooled. I have been there. I was not isolated or kept in a closet, I had plenty of friends and was involved in plenty of co-ops, but I was nevertheless not socialized, and I regret that. The fact is, socialization does matter. Rather than getting upset and defensive, please just take my perspective and opinion for what it is.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Lola

    Here Here! That shared culture part is huge, even with unsheltering parents. My good friend was homeschooled in a much less sheltered way than what it sounds like you were, but still struggled with certain things. He either knew from some groups he belonged to, or learned very quickly, how to deal with diversity and cliques and whatnot, but confessed that he strongly regretted things like not having a prom or being involved in the classroom experience, because it caused a huge disconnect between him and his friends at university. His sisters have had difficulty with dealing with boys who flirted with them in college because, again, while they were not strongly sheltered, their activities tended to either be highly structured, so no time, or gender specific (like sports teams). It got so bad that he told his parents recently how he regretted them having homeschooled. I would also add that I don't think public schools are quite as stratifying as people make them out to be. I remember having friends in the grades surrounding me all through school, plus some who were younger siblings' friends or the siblings of friends who all hung out on weekends. In highschool, when given more freedom with class choices and things like a lunch schedule, I would be in classes with freshman and seniors. It also seems like a lot of schools try to alleviate the separation between the grades by instituting a buddy system, like a fifth grade student paired with a kindergardener for an hour or so for reading help or something similar.

  • http://foreverinhell.com Personal Failure

    I wrote this for my novel-in-progress, Avoiding the Apocalypse: “Known as? That’s not your name?” asked Lucia. Israfel was clearly having difficulty suppressing laughter. “What?” For Lucia, this was too close to the first five years after she left the cocoon of fundamentalism. Every social situation, whether at work, at play, or at the grocery store, was one awkward missed cultural reference after another. Lucia had grown up in churches, listening to worship music, reading the Bible and Elsie Dinsmore and never seeing a single movie. Her mother had owned a TV, but it was on only during the 700 Club.While Lucia’s contemporaries were watching Saturday morning cartoons, music videos on MTV, Ghostbusters and The Breakfast Club, Lucia was memorizing Bible verses and striving to match the weepy perfection of a 19th Century fictional character. Filling in the holes in her education had been a monumental task, especially when it came to science, but no amount of effort could make up for coming from an entirely different American culture. Lucia had learned to laugh and nod and reference cultural touchstones she had never seen or heard well enough to avoid embarrassment, but she feared moments such as these when her ignorance was revealed and mocked.I wasn't raised in the environment I reference for Lucia, but I was raised in an environment that eschewed the pop culture my peers were immersed in, and the pain Lucia feels, the awkwardness and embarrassment is something I have felt many, many times. I still, at 35, run into it every now and then.It's not necessary to let your children attend raves or watch 6 hours of tv a night, but cutting them off from the general culture entirely renders them socially disabled, and it's very difficult to get past that.Which is probably the point.

  • http://foreverinhell.com Personal Failure

    I wrote this for my novel-in-progress, Avoiding the Apocalypse: “Known as? That’s not your name?” asked Lucia. Israfel was clearly having difficulty suppressing laughter. “What?” For Lucia, this was too close to the first five years after she left the cocoon of fundamentalism. Every social situation, whether at work, at play, or at the grocery store, was one awkward missed cultural reference after another. Lucia had grown up in churches, listening to worship music, reading the Bible and Elsie Dinsmore and never seeing a single movie. Her mother had owned a TV, but it was on only during the 700 Club.While Lucia’s contemporaries were watching Saturday morning cartoons, music videos on MTV, Ghostbusters and The Breakfast Club, Lucia was memorizing Bible verses and striving to match the weepy perfection of a 19th Century fictional character. Filling in the holes in her education had been a monumental task, especially when it came to science, but no amount of effort could make up for coming from an entirely different American culture. Lucia had learned to laugh and nod and reference cultural touchstones she had never seen or heard well enough to avoid embarrassment, but she feared moments such as these when her ignorance was revealed and mocked.I wasn't raised in the environment I reference for Lucia, but I was raised in an environment that eschewed the pop culture my peers were immersed in, and the pain Lucia feels, the awkwardness and embarrassment is something I have felt many, many times. I still, at 35, run into it every now and then.It's not necessary to let your children attend raves or watch 6 hours of tv a night, but cutting them off from the general culture entirely renders them socially disabled, and it's very difficult to get past that.Which is probably the point.

  • http://mollydodd.wordpress.com/ mollydodd

    I was homeschooled, and went to community college at 16, then to the university two years later as a junior, and my experience has been rather different. Was I awkward sometimes? Yeah — as my dad was, after going to public school for 12 years, as several of my friends have been, after going to public school as well. I've actually found incomplete socialization to be interesting and provide a perspective that has often been of value to me, especially as I have been in and out of different cultures and sub cultures since starting college (I'm 24); I was at a state university, and then teaching high school (THAT was a shock!), and teaching in Yupiik Alaska (that was, surprisingly, less of a shock, I think because I was used to being a bit of an outsider, and everyone is an outsider in village AK), and then a small liberal arts college in NM (it's nearly unique, and tends to attract introverted oddballs), and teaching middle schoolers on a military base, and now I'm teaching in an ex-soviet republic. In any event, for a young adult experience of near-perpetual culture-shock, homeschooling was excellent preparation, in its way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    I'm homeschooling secularly, and believe the reason for homeschooling plays a big part in the whole "socialization" thing. I am not attempting to shelter my daughter from modern culture, but am trying to give her a good education, which our schools here don't offer. You say that the #1 reason you will put your daughter into public school is socialization, but would that be the case if you had only bad or mediocre schools to choose from? If we started sending our daughter back to public school, the ONLY reason would be for socialization. But for us, the trade off of an inferior education is not worth it.We don't belong to co-ops, because they are all religious here. As I said, I don't have the goal of sheltering my daughter, so she plays soccer, has sleepovers, uses the computer, talks on the phone, etc. No, she does not spend 7 hours a day with kids her own age during the week, but she is well-adjusted. And like the commenter Molly above, I believe she will attend community college in high school which will prepare her for college/university much more than I was coming from a traditional high school.I know you're experience is very different from my daughter's. I believe Christian homeschoolers, especially fundamentalist ones give the rest of us homeschooling families a bad reputation. But there are examples of homeschooling that are done for different reasons and whose children are thriving.

  • http://skjaere.livejournal.com/ skjaere

    Ugh. That is such an annoying question, and I used to get it all the damn time when I was home schooled. Yes, as if public schools are are a natural and optimal social environment in which all children thrive and flourish. I was a shy kid. When I was at school, I got picked on a LOT, by teachers as well as other students. This was why my parents chose to home school me; not for religious reasons.We were part of a large home school community that did several of our weekly lessons in multi-age groups, and my sister and I participated in lots of extracurricular activities. One thing we learned that I wasn't even aware of at the time was that people's thoughts and opinions had value, even when those people weren't exactly the same age we were! I'm sure there are terrible, isolating, stunting ways to home school your kids, but it's damned annoying when people assume that that's the only way it can be done.

  • http://eosphoris.livejournal.com/ eosphoris

    I was homeschooled and thought I was very well socialized (after all, I had lots of friends of all ages, attended classes with other homeschoolers, could carry on intelligent conversations, etc). Nevertheless, college was a insanely hard culture shock and as a senior, I'm only just starting to feel like a fully-integrated social being on campus. I was very sheltered, so everything shocked me even on a very conservative Christian campus. I was used to being in a group of friends were everyone liked me, so I was shocked when sorority girls breezed past me on the sidewalk and or when all my coworkers at my first job hated me. I was used to discussions, but not to conversations, except with my very closest friends. I didn't understand cultural references, I was indignant when people swore, and I cringed in horror at couples kissing on the sidewalks in the evenings. I withdrew in intimidation when I should have been embracing the opportunities to get to know new people. Even so, now most people I know are shocked when I say I was homeschooled and tell me: "But you seem so normal." I'm not anti-homeschooling, but even as a homeschooling "success" things haven't been easy for me. I would prefer to send my kids to private school of some sort, or public school if we lived in a district with good academics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Leanna – "You say that the #1 reason you will put your daughter into public school is socialization, but would that be the case if you had only bad or mediocre schools to choose from?"Yes, I think it would be. See, the school would only have her for so many hours a day, it's not like we can't still help further her education at home. We can't, though, provide the same level of socialization as a school can. But you are absolutely right, it's a trade off. "I know you're experience is very different from my daughter's. I believe Christian homeschoolers, especially fundamentalist ones give the rest of us homeschooling families a bad reputation. But there are examples of homeschooling that are done for different reasons and whose children are thriving."See, when I was homeschooled I was also "thriving." I was happy, I had friends, I was involved in activities and co-ops. It's just, there are some aspects of socialization that schools provide that are nearly impossible to provide while homeschooling, regardless of how you homeschool. But then, you seem to be aware of that, unlike the internet homeschoolers who laugh at the socialization question and act like it's a silly question.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Skjaere – "I was a shy kid. When I was at school, I got picked on a LOT, by teachers as well as other students. This was why my parents chose to home school me; not for religious reasons."I think if I had been your parent I would have chosen differently. I think there is value to growing a thick skin and learning to stand up for yourself. If my daughter has issues with shyness or bullies, I would hope to help her deal with them rather than simply pulling her out of school. "We were part of a large home school community that did several of our weekly lessons in multi-age groups, and my sister and I participated in lots of extracurricular activities."I did all that too. But it's simply not the same as the kind of socialization experience provided by public schools. "One thing we learned that I wasn't even aware of at the time was that people's thoughts and opinions had value, even when those people weren't exactly the same age we were!"Uh…I have in laws who are in public school right now, and they have friends from a variety of age groups, not just their grade. I don't think public school is anywhere near as age stratified as people make it out to be. I find the idea that public schoolers don't know how to be friends with anyone not their age silly, because it's simply not true. "I'm sure there are terrible, isolating, stunting ways to home school your kids, but it's damned annoying when people assume that that's the only way it can be done."That wasn't my point. My point was that homeschooling by definition takes children out of the socialization of a public school and leaves them at risk of not being well socialized. By definition. Now, some parents work to mitigate this problem and some parents only work to make it worse, so of course kids are affected by it at varying levels, but that doesn't mean that socialization magically won't be a problem for non-religious homeschoolers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Mollydod and Eosphorus – I think the two of you point out two different perspectives that can be taken toward this issue. First, even as all will have at least some issues, some homeschoolers are better socialized than others. Second, some homeschoolers will be less annoyed by the trouble their lack of socialization creates when they grow up than will others. Some will admit it and shrug it off, others will be very bothered by it, potentially for a long time. I try to approach things with a good attitude and to do what I can with what I have, I'm not saying that I'm permanently crippled or something, but I'm personally one who really does regret not having been socialized via the public schools as a child.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00987022971262088932 Pam

    I was homeschooled and I was not socialized well at all. My lack of social skills continues to haunt me. Sometimes I suspect that I have s social anxiety disorder, but mostly, I just think I never learned how to function in a large group of people. Just this weekend I went to a gathering of my husband's friends and I spent the whole evening feeling awkward and alone, never really knowing when to jump into the conversation and when to just be quiet, never knowing what to say etc. It's very painful to experience that. I actually hate bringing up that I was homeschooled because it brings the conversation to a screeching halt. For example, if my co-workers are swapping prom stories and someone asks me about mine, I have nothing to contribute. I don't get to share in the discussions about high school reunions or anything like that, either.Further, since my parents were constantly seeking "the truth" we changed churches a lot, and with those changes came changes of friends. Because we didn't go to x church any more, I wasn't friends with the little girls I knew in Sunday School. As my family became increasingly devout, we started going to a church that was at least an hour away from our house – which meant that I couldn't really get together with any friends I might have made there, since it was too far to drive just for a social gathering. I never learned how to stay in touch with people – I was friends with the people I saw at church every week, and then when we changed churches, all of those people were cut off and I was on to learning how to function in a new group of people. I am really good at blending in (which mostly means staying quiet and out of the way), but I don't know how to connect with people.So, yes, I 100% agree that socialization is really, really important – perhaps just as important as book smarts. I plan to send any future children to public school as well, because I hope that will give them a better grounding in how to relate to the world around them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02510172065585770709 Hopewell

    I've been both homeschool and public school parent. Ultimately my kid was too lonely and I let her go back to school. There are things I hate about public school (total lack of academic content is the major one) but she is HAPPY there. That's the big thing. Still, the same things were said about the military draft when it ended at the end of the Vietnam era. Today you'd not find a Kennedy in the military–but you sure did in WWII. So, to carry it further, today we have the military and ex-military (aka "homeschoolers) and everybody else (public school). Is that really so awful? Maybe!I think it must be brutally hard to grow up uber-sheltered and then find youself at, say, a Big 10 College. The diversity of (name it–race, income, belief, etc) would be overwhelming. Still, the same was true for me–and I grew up in a liberal, public school family. College overwhelmed me the first year–I knew 3 people out of 30,000! Yes, I endured public school, but it didn't help me learn to break down a huge school into manageable "bites." Eventually I got my bearings and succeeded. Many didn't and dropped out.What worries me most about the ultra-sheltered Patriarchal christian homeschooled kids of today is the cultural blindness imposed on them from birth. There is US and them. "Them" are going to hell.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Hmmm. Bogger ate my post!! I don't believe that home schooling is the problem. Isolation is the problem!My children were home schooled, but not isolated. They have laptops, video games, TV and Netflix. The play community sports, have after-school jobs, join community groups, go to concerts and have friends.My girlfriend sent her kids to public school, but dressed them funny, refused to allow them into extracurricular activities, refused to allow them to watch television or get on the internet(actually locked them up when she went to work!),allowed them neither to have friends over nor go to friends houses, had padlocks on the fridge and locks on the pantry, leaving any food they were allowed to eat on the counter (usually none), and had only cell phones for adults- no home phone available.In fact, she has had social workers to her house several times, but she is super-polished career woman whose kids are scared to death of her, so NONE of the kids will say a word to contradict mom while the social workers are there.Isolation, not home schooling is the problem. Isolation is WRONG. This is our children's world as much as ours, and our children are a gift to the world as much as they are to us.Technically, you were socialized well, but you were only socialized by and for the Christian bubble your parents built for you. Socialization is unavoidable, like gravity. Sadly, the lesson controlling parents learn when older kids break out of their bubble is not to prepare all the other kids for the big wide world, it's "Reinforce the bubble! Isolate more!"I was able to help my friend's daughter escape from her mother's damaging control, but I won't be any help to her younger siblings. Her mom cut me out of her life completely once she saw I had helped her daughter escape.I am a believer in home school regulations, and in favor of closing loopholes. I still believe each state should strive for the least restrictive mean possible to ensure their young citizens are being educated, fed, sheltered and receive timely medical care- home schooled or public schooled.Public school is not a cure all, and home schooling is not the problem. Isolation is the problem, but in our country you have the right to be as paranoid and mistrustful as you want to be. My advice to all: be involved in your community. Be involved with your neighbors. Be involved in your world. And if you have neighbors who never play outside (home schooled or not) do your best to get to know them. Reach out to them, for the children's sake. Because where kids are being isolated, things are not right.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06260771518561377916 Breanna

    I was in public school from kindergarten until my senior year, and I had much the same culture shock experience of college. I think in this case, you are probably over-attributing to homeschooling what is actually a fairly common experience for young people across the schooling spectrum. The fact is that we live in a very heterogeneous culture, and as young adults we frequently transition from one geographical area and/or sub culture to another. In my case, I was a well-socialized (if introverted) Alaskan public schooled girl, and it was still a dramatic shock going to my east-coast women's college.My younger siblings were partly homeschooled and partly public schooled (through this amazing program our district had, where homeschooled kids could participate in all the same extracurriculars and a few classes at the schools, and which gave the parents a stipend for lessons and books). Their transitions to east-coast colleges still had significant elements of that same culture shock. If anything, their more varied schooling experience growing up might have helped them be more adaptable. So maybe that's the solution?Mostly, I think your experience was fairly typical and something that should just be expected as part of growing up in 21st century America.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    eosphoris:I had an angry reaction to your post: " I was used to being in a group of friends were everyone liked me, so I was shocked when sorority girls breezed past me on the sidewalk and or when all my coworkers at my first job hated me."My daughter did not have to go to a public school to learn how to deal with the pain of rejection, or to blow off ostracization and find her own circle. Girls LIKE YOU DESCRIBE yourself were the ones who made sure my daughter was well-socialized in rejection by middle school! The fact that you were indignant when people cussed and horrified when couples showed affection in public- yep, you are describing exactly the kind of unsocialized self-righteous Christian home schooler who caused my child so much pain, so young. Ultimately though, it turned out to be good for her. For one thing, she is not overly religious and would never use religion as an excuse to exclude people. For another, she did learn young that not everyone will like you, and it's your responsiblity to find your place in this world.Yes, girls like that taught my daughter all she needed to know about rejection and then some. No wonder she LOVED college, where you and Libby had a hard time. But then, she already had a boyfriend, was familiar with pop culture, and had learned to be picky about who she let in her circle of friendship. At college, she just had more people to choose from. She has grown so much, and I am so proud of her!The girls who stuck their nose in the air and gossipped about my daughter? They were just the product of their crappy Christian home school bubble. It wasn't home schooling, it was the religion. The movie "Saved" portrayed it so well. The "in" crowd is as victimized as everybody else by those isolating religious doctrines.What was done to you and Libby is a shame. I am glad things are better for you now, and I hope your voice (and Libby's) make life better for your siblings coming up behind you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14856500260839151492 Gina Marie

    Maybe it was also because I had a terrible home life (where parents just assumed bullying was the norm and that I should just get over it), but I found that I came out of 13 years of public education LESS socially confident than some of my homeschooling peers (I've met homeschoolers across the spectrum; some so socially incapacitated that they couldn't cope with someone thinking differently than them to people who seemed well versed in culture and society and who could talk to anyone). I think good parents make a world of difference; my very secular family taught me that people are just jerks, and I viewed the world that way, and when I was bullied it was expected but not fought on any fronts. My homeschool peers (including my husband) were exposed to a diverse section of America, from T-ball to classes they took at the local community college, and seemed far less scarred and much more confident than me. They also had healthy support systems at home, people ready to help them when they did encounter people who wanted to tear them down. I've had to de-program from the us/them mentality I inherited from an entirely secular family that had a really bad victim attitude. Because of that I think HEALTHY parenting is the essential ingredient in helping kids socialize, whether they're homeschooled or publicly educated. And even with good parents, sometimes the public school system just doesn't work for some kids because of learning styles or because they're so different that their peers make their lives a living hell, and even though their parents fight it, it's an uphill battle.

  • http://eosphoris.livejournal.com/ eosphoris

    Shadowspring – I'm terribly sorry for what your daughter as had to experience in terms of rejection: I'll agree, it's incredibly hard, whether it's coming from a more conservative person thinking someone else is too liberal or vice versa.I do just want to clarify, though. I simply used those examples as fairly mundane things that I had never encountered and thus, was confused and offended by, because I didn't know any better. While I unfortunately made mental judgements based on what I was taught, I never, ever did anything to treat people badly or gossiped about people, I can assure you of that. I fully confess to having opinions in the past I now regret, but having experienced social rejection myself (particularly at churches), I never treated anyone badly. I just continued on in my slightly awkward way.Also, I'm not like this anymore. If anything, I'm now a person who would have offended the me of three years ago. So yeah, sincerely sorry for my lack of clarity.

  • Anonymous

    Libby Anne, in your reply to Skjaere, you said "I think if I had been your parent I would have chosen differently. I think there is value to growing a thick skin and learning to stand up for yourself. If my daughter has issues with shyness or bullies, I would hope to help her deal with them rather than simply pulling her out of school."Frequently it's not just a matter of growing a thicker skin. My parents pulled me out of school after school, where I was bullied relentlessly because of a seizure disorder, beaten up, mocked, harassed, and then stalked by two different people. I left school with PTSD, social anxiety problems, and massive trust issues. My parents fought for me every step of the way, did everything they could to protect me, threatened law suits when teachers expressed a belief that I was bringing the bullying on myself, everything they could, except take me out of school completely. They insisted I remain in school because I needed socialization until I put my foot down in high school and took my GED. To put it mildly, the attempt at socialization backfired. While I agree that school provides a fantastic engine of socialization for many kids, I don't think growing a thicker skin is going to help the kids afraid to leave their houses in the morning, or are driven to suicide by the bullying that never ends.

  • Anonymous

    I think you hit on some very important points, but many apply not only to homeschoolers, but to private schoolers and suburban public schoolers. We moved to a city known for "bad" schools. When we were deciding where to live, one suburban school bragged to me that the only minorities they had were Asian students whose parents taught at the local high-prestige university. We moved to the city and sent our children to the city schools (there are some that are truly excellent if you don't have a knee jerk reaction to being a white minority), and the kids now walk seamlessly among races, religions, and social class groups. They literally have some friends who live in mansions and some who get free lunch. I very reluctantly began homeschooling my teenaged daughter last year for reasons having to do with her health, but I would have worked harder to keep her in school had she not already gotten 11 years of that kind of socialization (our younger two remain in city public schools). She feels that her years of schooling in incredibly diverse environments prepared her well for working with the conservative, religious homeschoolers at one of her volunteer activities. I'm not sure the same is true in reverse.

  • http://www.sustainablemommy.wordpress.com Naomi

    My experience as a homeschool (and very small, isolated church school) "survivor" has been much like the first paragraph of Pam's comment above. When I was growing up, I heard again and again that if you could get along with your immediate family, you could get along with anyone. (As if that was all that was involved in socialization!) The problem with that pathetic logic is that any well-adjusted adult needs to know how to handle relationships BEYOND the immediate family as well.From my perspective now, it becomes clearer all that time that it was any easy way out of the hard work of helping children become adults. I'm 35 and still trying to figure it out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13220289952882875345 Discordia

    Anonymous said:"While I agree that school provides a fantastic engine of socialization for many kids, I don't think growing a thicker skin is going to help the kids afraid to leave their houses in the morning, or are driven to suicide by the bullying that never ends."My thoughts exactly.

  • africaturtle

    There is a lot of discussion about the issue of bullying at the blog "Single Dad Laughing"(www.danoah.com)As a parent i don't know exactly how to handle all of these issues and hope my kids don't encounter any severe bullying (i know i never did, but apparently a LOT of people have…and it affects them into adulthood). We are just at the beginning of their education and I am already suprised at 4 yrs old how difficult the social side of schooling is. In fact whether they feel like they have friends or not is what makes them "want" or "not want" to go to school each morning. When things are not well socially they get "belly aches" and talk about their work being "too hard" etc. I try to keep it in perspective and encourage them to reach out to others and not let it get them down. But i would not insist forever. There is a point where you need to listen to your kid (not directed at you libby anne, just in general).I went to public school, and was pretty comfortable there but was also conscious i was "different" because of my christian faith (and parent's strict rules on entertainment/dating). As an adult i still find some social situations ackward at times (moreso than in highschool) and lack a certain level of self-confidence when it comes to making new friends. I don't have a good reason "why" that is. I do think homeschoolers tend to "stick out" socially…you can usually tell "who" they are from a distance…but it is often more "shallow" reasons like dressing "too" neatly, being especially good with little kids, helpful in the kitchen, etc. …it can make them seem a little "geeky" but it's not really "bad", per-se. There were PLENTY of "weird-os" in public school…those who were clueless, those who were hard to get along with. (personally i always thought "only children" where the most poorly socially-adapted individuals, if i were to pick one "category"). You are talking in this article more about having the common denominator of cultural elements, but i (because of my parents rules and lack of personal interrest) always told people up front "im clueless about hollywood"….my sister on the other hand (who went to a private baptist school for a while) was much more well-versed in pop-culture than i was…mainly because she just spent time listening to the radio (when my parents weren't paying close attention) and she actually REMEMBERED the names of the songs/singers she liked (something i'm no good at). It's been quite enriching reading everyone's perspectives on this subject…esp. as a parent evaluating the pros and cons. Personally I tried doing preschool for 1 yr at home with my kids and quite because of my OWN need for socialization! :) …i needed to get OUT a little more! (no coops or groups where i live)I do think that what Shadowspring said about isolation is particularly valuable… and i will try to be more attentive to those around me in light of that…

  • http://mollydodd.wordpress.com/ mollydodd

    The main thing I'm getting from reading people's comments is that the really important thing isn't necessarily sending children to public school or keeping them home, but ensuring that they have an opportunity to interact with people who have different backgrounds, beliefs, tastes, values, etc than themselves, including those who have what their parents might consider to be the "poor and shallow" tastes of pop culture. At the same time, the only places where my homeschooling has put me at a disadvantage have been as a public school teacher and an evangelical youth, but my public-schooled friends or a similar temperament had similar difficulties in both situations, so I'm not sure that it isn't just because I'm an introvert. In jr high and high school at outgoing, socially awkward evangelical get-togethers, we shy introverts, whatever our schooling, tended to hang together. I think that what I was trying to communicate in my other comment is that, while I'm certainly a little more withdrawn and awkward than some of my friends, both homeschooled and from public schools, I'm about average among those of similar temperaments and interests, whatever kind of school they went to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    Libby, I really have to agree with the first Anonymous. Bullying is a form of abuse, and kids can't necessarily just "grow a thicker skin"–in fact, trying to force that on them can also be abusive. If a child is unable to cope with the way they are treated at public school, or if their public school education is totally inadequate, sometimes the best thing is to keep them home. A child does not receive helpful socialization from an environment in which they are abused, or from one where they are so different from the other kids that they can't relate to their peers at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    "Shadowspring – I'm terribly sorry for what your daughter as had to experience in terms of rejection: I'll agree, it's incredibly hard, whether it's coming from a more conservative person thinking someone else is too liberal or vice versa."You're not responsible for what happened to my daughter, but thank you for your show of compassion.I gave the same cold-shoulder to others, so payback is a bitch. And you know what? I wasn't purposely rude to anyone, so I could feel guilt free. I just didn't talk to the person beyond hello; I was always nice and polite. I just never invited them to hang out with us, or included them in conversations. I shut out people who let their kids read Harry Potter. My daughter was shut out for being smart and artistic with a flair for unapproved colors (black, red) and styles (goth). All of us who exclude can pat ourselved on the back that we've done nothing wrong. The fact that our inaction is the real knife in the back to the ones seeking friendship evades our conscience at the time.So please don't feel personally called out. That was not my intention. =D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    kisekileia said…Libby, I really have to agree with the first Anonymous. Bullying is a form of abuse, and kids can't necessarily just "grow a thicker skin"–in fact, trying to force that on them can also be abusive. If a child is unable to cope with the way they are treated at public school, or if their public school education is totally inadequate, sometimes the best thing is to keep them home. A child does not receive helpful socialization from an environment in which they are abused, or from one where they are so different from the other kids that they can't relate to their peers at all. "Very much worth repeating! Goes for home school, public school and private school situations. Well said.

  • Anonymous

    I am 53 years old and many women at my church are just like Shadowspring describes. They are sometimes polite enough to say hello but often look right through me. If I sit at a table with them during potluck, they will ignore me and not include me in the conversation. They treat many other people the same way.This has been a painful experience for me and I thought of finding another church, but I think most churches are the same way. The recent book Leaving Church cites unfriendliness as the major reason droves are people are leaving their churches. So I decided that church is for services and outside the church is for friendship.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    Shadowspring- "I don't believe that home schooling is the problem. Isolation is the problem!" I agree completely!! It's all about WHY parents homeschool.Libby Anne, we didn't homeschool from the start. I had not even considered homeschooling my kids as an option until after a year and a half of public school when I pulled my daughter out in the middle of first grade. At the beginning of second grade, I put her back in public school because I wasn't ready to give up on it and was still not what I would consider a "homeschooling advocate." We stuck it out for second and third grades until we could no longer stomach the complete lack of academics any longer. The only good things academically in school for my daughter were reading class (the only class where the kids were separated by ability) and a small "gifted" class, which only happened once a week, during recess. Yes, you are correct that we could teach her at home after school, but as someone who has tried that, I can tell you that it's very hard to teach in the evenings when a kid has spent his or her most alert hours of the day behind a desk at school. Our private schools are expensive and Catholic, which are not viable choices for us as atheists with three kids. Plus they are only slightly better than the public schools here academically. I graduated in a class of 300 and was not prepared socially for the large state university I attended. I had way too much freedom and definitely let it get to my head. Sadly, despite being one of the top students in my high school, I had not learned a thing about academic discourse, how to take notes, or even how to study. And even though I knew how to sit in a class with 25 peers, I didn't know how to budget money or manage my time wisely, both skills that would have been really useful.At any rate, I think all of these varied experiences with homeschooling and traditional schooling only prove the point that the reason for homeschooling or not plays a bigger role in the socialization experience than the method of schooling itself. And one other small thing! I really do hate the word socialization, unless we're talking about healthcare. LOL. Even though most of the rote responses you were given as a child to defend homeschooling may have been bunk, that doesn't mean all of them are! There really is something to be said against the idea of 20+ students in a same-aged peer group for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year, 12+ years really being necessary or in any way "natural" for social development.

  • Chatterbox

    Libby, i love your blog and your writing but i do struggle when the issue of homeschooling/public school comes up.This particularly…"" I think there is value to growing a thick skin and learning to stand up for yourself.""I was bullied all through school, way beyond growing a thicker skin and learning to stand up for myself. My family had no idea any bullying was going on, cos when you are bullied many people think its their own fault (especially a child) and feel shame and so hide it from those closest. I cringe inwardly when i have alluded to being bullied and people say 'but hey, it made you a stronger person!'. I usually dont say anything to them further about it because they just made a kinda shut down statement. Like all them years of torment can be swept away with that one statement. I feel like it made me into a 'thinner skinned' and weakened person to be honest! I was damaged by bullying and still carry the effects with me to this day (i am in my 30s), though much reduced due to counselling and my own hard, hard work on myself. I know other people older and younger than me who feel the same way. I could tell you some shocking tales of what went on. Some kids commit suicide cos school bullying is that bad. I remember wanting to die. At the same time, i like to hear your views and it keeps me on my toes as i approach home educating my boys – make sure they have plenty of contact with school kids as well as home ed kids and obviously just being as 'normal' and mainstream as we can in other ways too. So as i say – i feel conflicted when i read these types of posts but not cos i neccessarily disagree just that i can kinda see both sides. I know what you mean about the laughing about socialisation thing – it is actually my main worry about home edding. Plus wanting my kids to feel normal cos i didnt feel normal at all growing up despite being in school.

  • Monica

    Thank you so much for posting this! I'm nearing thirty but struggle daily with my past as a homeschooler; it is incredibly encouraging to be reminded that I am not alone in this. I would like to add a further observation to what many posters above have mentioned about bullying. While I fully agree that "growing a thicker skin" isn't a good solution in response to bullying, please bear in mind that bullying can happen within the home, too. The same problems apply – the child feeling that it is her fault and that she can't tell others, the suicidal despair – but in a school there is at least a chance that a teacher or counselor or coach will notice what's going on, even if the parents remain clueless. That's not the case for many homeschooled children.My mother harassed me about my weight (I developed an eating disorder for a time), my looks and clothes (I wasn't ordinarily allowed to choose my clothes for myself, however), told my sisters I was slut, and otherwise repeatedly said and did things that, in a schoolyard context, would have been indistinguishable from bullying. For years I flinched when she walked by me. She was unhappy and wildly overworked, but that's no excuse. It's hard not to feel that I would have been better off going to school, no matter what.I doubt that all or even many homeschooling families have these sorts of problems, but I do think that homeschooling usually creates situations in which it is easier for children to be bullied with no recourse to help and little chance of intervention.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    To clarify my "grow a thicker skin" comment. Maybe I'm naive and you are free to disagree with my current thoughts on this, but I don't see how any bullying problem can't be dealt with using one of two strategies: A. Help the child being bullied learn to stand up for herself and be confident. Teach her strategies to deal with being picked on. B. If the bullying is more than just little things, go to the school administration and teachers and have them intervene. Some of you mentioned "suicide," et cetera – look, if it's gotten to that point, the school is failing in its duty to protect its students and needs to be called to task. I am of the opinion that there shouldn't be any case of bullying that can't be dealt with with the two solutions I suggest. But then, I haven't dealt with bullies and this is just my personal opinion on the issue. Next, several commenters here have said one of the below: A. The problem isn't homeschooling, it's isolation. I did say it was a matter of degree, and that some homeschoolers will be less unsocialized than others. However, I stand by my contention that every homeschooled child will have at least some socialization challenge simply by virtue of being removed from our country's primary method of socializing children. B. I was public schooled and I wasn't well socialized.So? This has nothing to do with my point! I see this all the time. Someone criticizes something about homeschooling and the response is "public schools have problems too!" Um, SO? That doesn't change the point! C. Given what you're saying, suburban public schoolers and private schoolers are unsocialized too. Well yes, absolutely. Ideally I'd like to see all children required to attend public schools. I'd also like to see public schools institute busing to assure diversity and an equalization of funding, facilities, and instruction to cut down on inequality between public schools. This is the way it is in many western European countries, and I wish it was how we could do it here. Unfortunately, our world is not ideal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10374620768794536239 Sheena

    I'm always grateful to hear about parents who do not consider public schools the Big Bad Boogeyman, full of bullies and drugs and other scary things. Yes, kids will encounter bullies in public schools. They will also encounter bullies in private schools, home-schooling groups, churches, and — if they are very unlucky — their own families. Bullies aren't just in the Cesspools of Evil (aka the neighborhood school). Part of life is dealing with bullies — they're kids, college students, co-workers, pastor's wives, and so on. And knowing who to talk to if you need help (which I'm sure Libby is teaching her little girl).Unless you live in a very poor or very rich area (or pay for private school), kids will encounter and learn how to interact with people who are different from them. Most schools include a variety of ethnic and religious groups, and kids from rich or poor families. And kids with conservative, liberal, neo-Confederate, wannabe-socialist, apolitical, and apathetic parents. And it is just about guaranteed that kids will sit next to someone who is different in class. And, I don't know about y'all, but I'd rather my hypothetical kids come home and ask what the "n-word" means or why people are so mean to the little girl with the scarf young (so they can learn how to interact with people who are different with kindness) than have them suspended for repeating that behavior or remaining completely ignorant, and making a spectacle out of someone in adulthood (like demanding a Muslim woman "take off your scarf and stay a while").

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    I am the above anonymous who mentioned I was in school for socialization and why in my case, it backfired. The school administration (the first, third, and fourth administrations, anyway, remember, I changed schools) saw me as a problem child, because dealing with my disabilities was inconvenient. It wasn't that they fell down on the job, it was that they actively encouraged my mistreatment. I was getting beaten up every day. No one spoke to me except to spew poison. With both of my stalkers, it was my stalker who was believed over and over, and me being told to stop making trouble. This happens to a lot of kids. The kids most likely to be bullied are also the ones the schools administrations and teachers are most likely to personally dislike and find inconvenient.It wasn't all bad. It got much better when I moved, (though I did get my second stalker after I moved) and went to school with people who had never seen my seizures, but later, I went through high school in the closet, because I could not go through it again. As it was, my second stalker and my worsening health still drove me out of school. I was sincerely afraid I was going to die.In light of the increasing awareness about bullying, yes, I find your solutions incredibly naive, because as I even said in my first comment and repeated in this one, the administrations were in on it. Even after I stopped having seizures with better medical care, I had been scapegoated as the bad child, and short of moving two states over, nothing my parents or I did could help.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    I want to mention that I don't consider public schools evil, and I will most certainly send my own children if I have any to them (though if what happened to me happens to them, I'm more willing to pull them out than my parents were). My objection was your idea that it's the best environment for everyone, and that children who are being bullied should continue to attempt the same solutions that failed me so badly. There are bullies everywhere, in schools public and private, homes, girl scout troops, everywhere. But a child has the right to not be abused, and that's what I suffered in school. I have no good solutions, but I can say that public schools are not always the best environment for every child.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14856500260839151492 Gina Marie

    "B. I was public schooled and I wasn't well socialized.So? This has nothing to do with my point! I see this all the time. Someone criticizes something about homeschooling and the response is "public schools have problems too!" Um, SO? That doesn't change the point! "I think it's a perfectly valid critique of what you've said. If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that homeschooling leaves children at a disadvantage because they don't share and speak the same culture as their publicly schooled peers, and no matter how their parents try to make up for that loss, they will always be at a disadvantage. Public schoolers will also learn how to deal with bullies, disagreement, and diversity in a public school setting, and gain a sense of confidence that their homeschooled peers won't inherit. My experience is that I did not receive those skills you mentioned, and some people I know who are homeschooled do have them, because their parents more than made up for that lack by exposing them to news, pop culture, extra-curriculars, and community college classes as high schoolers. I think the point of everyone sharing their bad public schooling experiences is to demonstrate that improper socialization has many contributing factors: being exposed to a single, homogenized worldview; bad parenting; a corrupt public school hierarchy; intense and systematic social torture (aka bullying); being the single diverse element in a homogenized setting, etc, etc, etc. That's not to say that homeschooling is better, and that the concerns you've brought up aren't legitimate. But those of us who came from a public school background want to point out that public school isn't always the best source of socialization. My personal experience would have been improved if my parents had been better, but the system was also hurtful in and of itself and scarred me. Other people have great parents and it's still not a place where they learned confidence, how to properly handle disagreement and diversity, usually because they were one of the diverse elements. Which, as you suggested, would be improved by children being sent to different systems, but still, kids can be cruel and other kids will still carry those scars, scars that leave people bereft of confidence and social skills, despite their parents best intentions. My husband was called a "fag" at his soccer practices, but he wasn't called "fag" 8 hours a day at school. That experience, while it can toughen you, can also leave you bitter and wounded. I share the same culture, language, and rites of passage as many of my publicly schooled peers (and some of those things I absolutely treasure and I tease my homeschooled husband who doesn't get it), but there's a bad side to it as well, and those of us who experienced that want to share it to demonstrate that there are two sides to the socialization coin. That is NOT to say that I think public school is altogether evil. I had a small group of friends, received a great education, and think our schools should be improved, not run from and abandoned. There won't be less bullying, less drugs, less corruption among teachers and school boards, if we all bail. But sometimes it's in the best interest of a child to be placed in a different setting and to learn socialization through other avenues.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Gina Marie – "B. I was public schooled and I wasn't well socialized.So? This has nothing to do with my point! I see this all the time. Someone criticizes something about homeschooling and the response is "public schools have problems too!" Um, SO? That doesn't change the point! "I think it's a perfectly valid critique of what you've said.My point wasn't that public schools socialize perfectly but rather that homeschoolers have a socialization problem that they need to deal with head on rather than brush off or laugh away. Because, in my experience, essentially every homeschooler I've ever met has acted like socialization is not a problem homeschoolers have to face at all, and I'm sorry, it is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Libs, For sure all the home school parents you were around were glib about socialization! I have been around those women too. They took over most state home school conventions twenty years ago or more. There really are many, many parents who are in denial about the very real concern that home schooled students will be too sheltered to make it in life outside of their bubble.I also know that public school is no picnic for a lot of kids, and for some it is tortuous and for a few even fatal. Bullies are masterful at tormenting when teachers can't see, or knowing which teachers won't care. If you have a set-up like attackfish experienced, where there is tacit approval for bullying (think how life is for a gay kid in a small town redneck public school, for example), it would be better to be home schooled, at least for a season.And of course *I* disagree with you that ALL home schoolers have socialization problems, but then the home school kids I know are definitely not like any home schooler you ever met! They are atheists, agnostics, liberals, vegetarians, musicians, poets and more. They dual-enroll at private schools, community colleges and online universities that include forums/chat/real-time classroom interaction. They give speeches about gay rights, going green, and justice for undocumented workers. Some spent years in public schools before getting out (See Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewelyn); others home schooled for years and then went to public schools, art schools, college. They volunteer as docents at the science museum, historical sites,and raptor center. They take part in teen community theater, which tours the area public high schools, performing skits about bullying that were written by the volunteer troupe. They are NOT in Teen Pact! HOWEVER, none of their parents blow off are laugh at the socialization question. They are concerned about social justice and want their children to learn not just tolerance of others, but acceptance.Home school should be just another option in our society's educational goody bag. Public, private, home school, dual-enrolled, online- it all has a place. I just wish (and would lobby for) more oversight and accountability in home schools, because it is sorely needed. Without it, how can anyone help the child bullied in the home school, like Monica experienced? They deserve to be moved out of a system that not's working for them into a place that works too, just like attackfish deserved her respite from bullying.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    I'm admittedly defensive on this topic and don't like being lumped in with the crazy fundamental homeschooling parents who are keeping their kids in a bubble. I can see my kids with their peers at soccer and other activities and see, very clearly, that they are not lacking in social skills. I'll give you that homeschooling families have to work harder to help their kids develop socially, but I don't think it's a problem that's impossible to overcome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    And I agree with shadowspring that there needs to be more accountability and oversight with homeschooling, but I'm not sure who should be in charge of that. In my state, our public schools are pumping out kids with a staggering 33% proficiency rate in reading and math. The idea of the state department of education regulating me while they are failing so miserably makes no rational sense. I don't know what the answer is, but I feel strongly that homeschooling is my family's best option, at least for now.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    And one more tiny also. :) Libby Anne, I LOVE your blog and agree with you on so many topics. I am as frustrated and disgusted by the fundamental/Christian/patriarchy homeschooling system you describe as you are, but have to speak up for those of us who represent the reasonable side of homeschooling.

  • GirlDownUnder

    Hi.I have wanted to homeschool since my first semester of my teaching degree. I really hate the school system. I hate that we have to teach to a common denominator, and the kids at either end of the spectrum get sucked into the middle ground and fall behind. I hate that we have to make kids line up at the door and wear uniforms because that's the school rules. I hate that standardised testing means we are starting to teach to the test. I hate that I started school having already taught myself to read, got continuously picked on right through school for being 'too smart' (at both public and private schools), and spat out the other end with limited study skills, limited social skills and despising my best subject (maths). I hate that I have to send my son off to school in January because I'm terrified he's going to end up just like me. I've seen the curriculum for Prep, and he could do most of it twelve months ago. But we have little choice, because we lack support for homeschooling, and everyone I've met in the area who homeschools are WEIRD. But if school turns out to be a problem, I'll happily bring him home, teach him at home (we have pretty strict guidelines for homeschooling where I live) and keep him as un-isolated as possible.

  • CLDG

    Libby Anne, I am mostly in agreement with you on this topic, but, yes, you are being naive about bullying. Some bullying can probably be mitigated with those tactics, but in practice it often doesn't work that way. I was (verbally, socially) bullied in my small Christian elementary school. Every day. For years. It did a lot of damage that took a long time to get over and is still raw when I think about it. Now, I do NOT want to homeschool whatsoever. BUT, if my child gets tagged as a victim by bullies and the problem doesn't go away in a hurry, I will absolutely choose homeschooling over sending her in to be abused every day. It's weird to look at my daughter and see from pictures and my parents' stories how exactly like her I was (she's almost 5). She is vibrant, excited, outgoing, verbal. I was like that until the abuse I took in school squashed my spirit and my confidence, and I'll be damned if I let anybody do that to my girl. Because of my history, I follow bullying issues and research closely. Please do some more investigation on this one. As a side note, I have often wondered if it was worse for me being in my Christian school than a public school, since I had to interact with the same people all the time.

  • Chatterbox

    Monica – i was bullied at home too by my mum (dad died when i was very young), i was also told what to wear and developed an eating disorder (aneorxia/bulimia) which took me till about 23yrs old to beat totally. To then be sent to school and be bullied there too just confirmed that i was indeed deserving of the bullying i recieved at home and at school. I almost added this to my post before but felt like it was already rather long!! I wanted to say because of the way my mum is that homeschooling for me, would not have been the answer either – i think either way i was done for!! :0) I dont think public schools are dens of evil but nor are they wonderful, up lifting places for ALL students. HOmeschool, public school and all the other options – nothing is ideal – like life isnt ideal – you just got to work out what works best for you and yours and make the most of it.I also agree bullying can take place anywhere in and throughout life but bullying that takes place in the home or school when a person is young cannot be escaped from and is formative- the child is essentially powerless and still forming her sense of self – at least when one becomes an adult there are more choices and knowledge about how to deal with the bullying. I also agree homeschooling should be regulated.Libby – i hate to say this cos it sounds like an insult but its not cos i have loads of respect for you, but yes, i do think you may be a little naive about bullying – there is a lot of awareness nowadays about bullying and i'm sure you could find lots of info online and stories from people who tried every which way to deal with the bullying but could not make it stop. Keep writing – i find it very valuable!

  • jemand

    "there is a lot of awareness nowadays about bullying"I kinda think this is true. I think in more places bullying is taken more seriously in public schools than it used to be. I think it is less likely to have these problems now than even 20-30 years ago, meanwhile, homeschooling has just become, as a group and with group influences, more isolated, tied to christian patriarchy, etc.There is still a way to do it without those isolating factors, but it seems public schools are getting better while homeschool coops are getting worse.Furthermore, when homeschooling goes bad, it can go REALLY bad. Easily meeting all of the horror stories in this thread and then some. So I really think it's kind of frustrating that it seems Libby's point is being "countered" by people taking the worst of public schools and comparing to the best of homeschooling.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "So I really think it's kind of frustrating that it seems Libby's point is being 'countered' by people taking the worst of public schools and comparing to the best of homeschooling." ~ jemandIf that's what's going on here, then it would be an unfair tactic, wouldn't it?..i.e..comparing the best results of one method to the worst results of another? In any case, for those who opt for home-schooling largely because of the fear of bullying in public schools, what about when the child becomes an adult and enters the work force and encounters emotional or psychological bullying from "adult" co-workers, even bosses? This is a reasonable question, IMO. I'm not asking it to be combative; I'm just throwing it out there because it immediately comes to mind after reading some of the responses.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    jemand: In my case at least, my bringing up the worst of public school bullying was not a response to the post itself, but to Libby Anne's comment that a badly bullied child should "grow a thicker skin" and then later comments where she suggested bully victims try to use the same tactics that have already failed many of us. As to the post itself, I agree that homeschooled children have unique difficulties in integrating themselves into a world full of people who were in public and private schools, even when they are not deliberately isolated, and that it is exponentially worse when they are. For a severely bullied child like me, it would have been the lesser of two evils, not a perfect solution.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Leanna – "I'm admittedly defensive on this topic and don't like being lumped in with the crazy fundamental homeschooling parents who are keeping their kids in a bubble. I can see my kids with their peers at soccer and other activities and see, very clearly, that they are not lacking in social skills. I'll give you that homeschooling families have to work harder to help their kids develop socially, but I don't think it's a problem that's impossible to overcome." First, every homeschooler has to deal with the (socialization) consequences of removing their children from our nation's main means of socializing its young, so in that sense you are in the same group with every other homeschooler. However, different homeschoolers respond to the socialization problem differently: some laugh the question off entirely and ignore it, some intentionally isolate their children, and some try to mitigate the problems by ensuring that their children are socialized as best they can be without the public schools. Thus while every homeschooler faces the same potential problem, different homeschoolers deal with it differently, and therefore not every homeschooled child ends up with the same degree of socialization problems. Second, a big part of the point of my post was that socialization is not synonymous with "can make friends and carry on a conversation."Third, I agree, homeschool parents can absolutely work to mitigate the socialization problems their children will face. I never said this problem was insurmountable, only that homeschoolers need to stop laughing it off and instead see it as something that needs to be addressed. Finally, you earlier said that being age segregated and put in a classroom is not a natural means of socialization. I disagree. In our society today, it is the natural means of socialization. Sure it was different in the past, sure it doesn't have to be this way, but the reality is that this is how it is, and we have to work within the present that we're given, not simply wish for the past.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Attackfish – I've said before that in an ideal world there should be no reason to need homeschooling. Ideally, the public school system should work for everyone. However, we don't live in an ideal world, so I'm not advocating for banning homeschooling or anything. I can't speak to everyone's circumstances, and I won't judge those who choose to homeschool because they feel they were failed by the school system. However, given the significance I now ascribe to socialization, I personally have to say that I would do whatever possible to deal with a bullying problem without resorting to giving up and pulling my kid out. Is the administration not listening? Go higher up! Run for school board, or sue, or something. I would rather work to improve the system than jump ship entirely. But then, maybe that's just me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Shadowspring – You assume I know nothing of homeschoolers outside of the bubble in which I was raised. This is incorrect. I did my master's research on homeschooling, which included several years of integration into the local homeschool community (in a city far from where I grew up). I met all sorts of homeschoolers, including plenty of the homeschoolers you describe – liberal, atheist, even pagan or Quaker. Many of them are still friends today. Their kids were in theatre, gymn, science camp, you name it. But you know what? All the homeschool kids I met, even those raised by liberal or atheist parents, had socialization issues. Sure, they weren't as dramatic because their parents weren't trying to isolate them, but the problems were still there. I would contend that anytime you remove a child from the nation's main means of socializing its young, there will be consequences. That said, you can work to mitigate those potential problems as you indicate that you do. I'm not saying that every homeschooler is as badly socialized as the uber isolated homeschooler (and I really don't think I was quite as isolated as you think), but rather that every homeschooler will face socialization issues of some sort. You say that these homeschoolers don't laugh off the socialization question. In my experience, this is patently untrue. I've found that unschoolers laugh off the socialization question at the same rate as fundamentalist homeschoolers, and use the same exact arguments. My point here is not that people need to give up homeschooling, but rather that homeschoolers need to stop laughing off or minimizing the socialization question and start addressing it head on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Everyone – I said this in my disclaimer, but if you disagree with me, fine, disagree with me. All I'm doing is sharing my experiences and my positions on these issues. This is a real problem I think needs to be addressed, and I'm tired of people ignoring it or pretending it doesn't exist, and that's why I wrote this post. I'm not trying to lay claim to some sort of absolute truth, but rather simply to explain my perspective. Rather than feeling like I'm attacking you, how about you just ask yourself whether there's anything to be gleaned from hearing my perspective, and then move on.

  • Brawne Lamia

    So I'm on the outside of the homeschooling community. I attended public schools my entire life, but have met a variety of homeschoolers over the years, through activities outside of school, and from the surprisingly large number of homeschoolers who came to public school in middle school or high school. Let me tell you, none, and I mean NONE of them were well socialized. Some had a hard time talking to their peers or struggled to work in groups on projects, something that I noticed increased the longer they were homeschooled. They were all homeschooled for various reasons and to varying degrees of isolation. This trend continued while I was at university and it was always apparent who was homeschooled and who wasn't, regardless of the reasoning for doing so. Also, I find it interesting how many parents are saying that their kids are being well socialized, but I'm curious what their kids and their peers will say. Again, as someone on the outside, looking in, it is fairly obvious that a lot of these homeschoolers were having problems adjusting to the outside, even ones with more socialization time than what Libby Anne describes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10374620768794536239 Sheena

    So, the bullying discussion has me thinking…I don't think bullying is a "rite of passage", but it's part of the imperfect world. Parents who write off a child's complaints as whining/being dramatic/"it's not THAT bad" are doing that child a disservice. Even if a particular situation *is* relatively minor, kids need to know that they can rely on the adults in their lives. Just responding to "Janie said my dress is ugly" (or, "I fell down at recess and Mrs. Smith ignored me") with "well, you're not going back to that school" doesn't do anything but teach a child that running away solves problems and that it's all about them. Part of what being In School (public, private, or whatever) entails is learning how to be part of a group. Even schools with small classrooms have 15+ kids in a room, all of whom want attention from the teacher. The advantage of that is that kids will learn that, even if they have a valid need, so does Jeffy, so does Suzie, so does Andy…and sometimes those valid needs are happening at the same moment (Jeffy broke his last pencil, Suzie desperately needs to use the bathroom, Andy has been sick and just sneezed all over his desk, etc.). If those kids are going to be functioning adults, they need to learn that other people have needs — and that authority figures (like teachers) can't always respond immediately or spend all of their time focused on one person. Most of that can happen in a normal classroom. The second graders I'm observing this semester already know that their teacher can't always pay attention to everyone, and sometimes the kids have to do things they don't want to do (like math problems). Learning that they are one part of a group, and have to follow along with adapt for others in that group is "training" for adulthood. Learning how to be part of a group is socialization as much as knowing how to interact with people one-on-one. My college has a LOT of home-schooled students, and they're easy to pick out — not because they have no friends, but because they haven't quite figured out how to interact within the context of a classroom or larger social groups (especially when those groups include a variety of people, not just "math club" or "writer's group"). Some — not all, but some — also tend to either be "that kid who's trying to be Professor J's BFF" or the person who doesn't know how to ask for help when he or she needs it (i.e., they either go to the prof's office hours every time their answer and the book's answer are different or they avoid talking with the professor individually, because they don't want to look "dumb").

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Sheena:There's a big difference between "Janie said my dress is ugly" and "The other students managed over the course of the year to convince me I'm worthless and should die" or "They permanently damaged all the nerves in my joints today, and the teacher wants me to apologize for antagonizing them by being there." I know you're not trying to minimize, but you are. Abuse is part of an imperfect world too, but we try as a society to get kids out of that situation too (often unsuccessfully, but…)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    boomSLANG: A child who is pulled out of public school due to bullying will probably be BETTER equipped to deal with bullies as an adult than one who is kept in despite relentless bullying that the parents cannot stop. A child who has experienced continual bullying has low self-esteem, often PTSD, and the other various psychological effects of having been abused, all of which impair one's ability to cope with the challenges of adult life such as bullying. A child who has been pulled out of school due to bullying, and given intensive psychological support to help reduce the emotional damage the bullying has caused, will be much better equipped to handle bullying as an adult than a bullied person who was kept in an unsafe environment and/or did not get the help they needed.Libby: Yes, you are seriously, seriously naive about bullying. Ever heard of Asperger's syndrome? Kids on the autism spectrum CAN'T "learn strategies to deal with being picked on" effectively enough to prevent themselves from being bullied. They can learn SOME social skills, but even with modern anti-bullying programs, studies show that bullying of autistic kids in general education classes is almost universal. Kids on the autism spectrum are vulnerable targets, and bullies can sniff them out in no time flat. Autistic kids do NOT learn useful coping skills from being exposed to bullying or even necessarily from being around other kids, because autism spectrum disorders involve an impaired capacity to learn by observation and imitation. This impairment has a neurological basis and cannot be fully corrected using current treatment methods. Autistic kids need to be explicitly taught social skills, and allowed to practice them in a SAFE environment–i.e. one that is more closely supervised than a typical classroom or school playground. If the environment isn't safe, they won't be able to learn. The emotional damage caused by bullying impairs many autistic people's ability to function socially. It's hard for them to test social behaviours to figure out what works if people respond with bullying, and learning to be afraid of other people doesn't help one socialize with them.Speaking of school playgrounds, did you know that it's common for them to have teacher:student ratios as low as 1:150? That's the standard quota in the school board where a friend of mine teaches. Sometimes there are EAs (educational assistants) there too, but they're generally assigned to one kid. You can't keep a really vulnerable kid, one who's being systematically targeted, safe in that environment. If the bullying is bad, you have to find somewhere else for them to go or someone for them to stay with during recess and lunch break. Recess and lunch are valuable prep times for teachers, so the school won't necessarily be willing to do that. Just because a parent fights to get the school to help their kid doesn't mean the school will listen. Sometimes, parents have to choose between homeschooling a child and leaving the child in an environment that is actively abusive or poisoning the child's enjoyment of learning. In those cases, a little lack of socialization is a reasonable price to pay for a child to be safe, non-traumatized, and able to enjoy learning.

    • Anat

      Re: Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome: That’s one reason to get kids diagnosed so they can receive special ed support. This support is not just about academics. An IEP can include specific teaching of friendship skills, dealing with social situations – including teasing and bullying, learning when and how to recruit the help of authority figures. Kids also learn how to manage their own behaviors and the expression of their emotions so as to understand when they are being ‘weird’ and can decide how conventional vs ‘weird’ they want to appear.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    " rather that homeschoolers need to stop laughing off or minimizing the socialization question and start addressing it head on.'" Completely agree!

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    I'd like to note that being able to pull a child out of public school to home school is a privileged ability. It means the parents have the time and resources, financial and intellectual to teach their children. All of the extreme solutions to extreme bullying are. Not all families can pay for lawyers to sue the school, or have the time or political connections to run for school board. There are also parents who really don't care that their kids are being abused at school, or are even more abusive at home. The cracks of our current system are gaping fissures, and too many kids fall through. Reform is needed now, and I'm willing to fight for it. I'm just not willing to force any child I have to fight for it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10374620768794536239 Sheena

    Attackfish:Actually, I'm not minimizing. I *know* how awful kids can be to each other — because adults do the same. I spent the better part of my fifth-grade year wishing that I could just not wake up the next day, because I was the target of several bullies in my class (and the teacher did nothing) — and the bullying followed me home, because one girl lived two houses away, my mom thought we were "best friends", and the other would call me several times an afternoon to harass me (and since both my parents worked, we were expected to answer the phone and not let it go to the answering machine; otherwise they would worry that something had happened, and this was before caller ID was a "normal" thing). But, most of what kids and parents call "bullying" IS (or starts with) the little stuff — Janie said my dress is ugly, Mrs. Smith only calls on me when I don't know the answer, etc. The best way to deal with that is for kids to learn how to resolve conflicts and who (and when) to ask for help. Sometimes the teacher can't or won't; that's why there is more than one teacher in the school. And, if Mr. Jones' response to long-term, severe, or physical bullying (not fighting, bullying) is to make the victim apologize, Mr. Jones should not be working with children. Good teachers HAVE to be empathetic. It can be a tough balance to keep an eye on the victims and the bullies AND everyone else in the room, but it's necessary.

  • AztecQueen2000

    Libby–Also, you are looking at the choices as "homeschool or diverse public school". What about parents who use Waldorf schools, where both TV characters and plastic toys are frowned on? Or parents who use parochial schools, where the students are all of the same religion? Frequently, public schools (especially in urban areas) are notorious for poor academics, so families utilize alternatives that can also inhibit socialization.Also, many homeschoolers are concerned about socialization. However, any environment, whether public school, private school or homeschool, has its limits. Anyone beginning college at 18 will have to face a number of adjustments, whether it is a need for increased self-discipline, dealing with new freedom, managing time and money, or keeping up academically.

  • Brawne Lamia

    AstecQueen2000- I don't think that Libby is saying kids at public schools DON'T have to make major adjustments when they leave home, just that certain, aspects of that change will be easier, especially the social aspect, which she is talking about. Given her experiences, plus those of the other homeschoolers that she has encountered, I don't think this is a far stretch. Now for my part, I have seen parochial schools and other private go both ways, socially. Many people I grew up with went to Catholic schools, and by and large didn't have a difficult time making social adjustments outside of the Catholic school world, and I think part of that is that the Catholic schools in the area were comparable in both size and academics to many of the public schools. I've also seen the opposite end of the spectrum, where smaller Christian schools (graduating classes of 10 or less) have many of the same problems as homeschoolers. Some private schools that friends went to were excellent academically, but left some of the students unable to cope with people who were less willing to work or simply not as smart as themselves, which I find to be a huge disadvantage, and something that I did learn to deal with in my public highschool.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Now that I have time I can apologize properly for assuming I knew all about your home school experience, Libby Anne. I made an ass out of myself again. Grrr.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Sheena:You're right, my third grade teacher most certainly did not belong in the class room. She recently became a principal at another elementary school. My former principal, who told me maybe if I were a better person, the other kids would like me when she found out I had been strangled until I passed out should also have been fired, and given the other stories I've heard, been put in jail. She is now the principal of a preschool.However, given that most of the kids I know who have been systematically bullied had some kind of sociological soft point that made them more vulnerable (I was Jewish and disabled, other bullied kids are frequently non-neurotypical, gender-nonconforming, openly queer, of a different race or religion than other kids, physically disabled, etc.) that they can't get rid of. How do you teach kids to resolve a conflict they carry with them as part of their very being? That whole line of argument has huge shades of blaming the victim.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10374620768794536239 Sheena

    Attackfish, honestly, I think we're making the same arguments: kids should have adults in their lives (especially in schools) who are willing to help and know how and when to ask for help when there is bullying. It's not the victim's fault, ever, and adults who say it is shouldn't work with children in any capacity.If mentioning that kids should know what resources are available (which is more the responsibility of the adults involved) translates as "victim blaming" to you, I honestly don't know what to say.I am going to step away from this particular conversation, because while I think we're thinking the same thing, we're saying it differently enough that we're misunderstanding each other. Best to you.

  • Monica

    Chatterbox -Thanks for filling me in on more of your story. How awful. It's easy enough for people like me to somewhat idealize public schools, and it's good to get a better perspective on the many, many ways educational systems can fail to deal effectively with serious problems.I would still argue, although this is getting a bit off-topic, that even when public schools fail at protecting students from bullies, for example, homeschooling is still ultimately worse with respect to the rights and protections of students. Cruel fellow students and cruel or apathetic teachers can do enormous damage to a person, no question, but – unlike homeschooling parents, such as mine – they cannot ordinarily withhold transcripts arbitrarily, prevent students from taking standardized tests and having the scores released, or prevent students from taking drivers' ed. Nothing is ideal, but parents who think they have "earned the right to be left alone" (to quote the charming HSLDA website) are exactly the sort of parents who should not be left alone. (As you know . . . and I could not agree more about regulating homeschooling!) In terms of rights and protections for students, public schools in most states are de facto superior to home schools.If my experiences had been, er, safe, legal, and rare, I suppose I could chalk it up to massively bad luck. And I did escape. But my sense is that the "christian" homeschooling culture, which appears to be a dominant force within homeschooling, fosters environments and ideologies in which violations of students' rights (to say nothing of abuse) are widespread and, in a sense, inevitable. So, in the general and qualified sense I've outlined, public schools are better.

  • africaturtle

    Libby Anne, I gather from what you've responded with in the comment section that your main "beef" is with homeschoolers who ignore/underestimate the problem of socialization. Nonethelss, i think the ensuing discussion (even if it's not 100% on topic) is really rich with experience (and i'm enjoying reading along)! What I think a lot of your readers are trying to point out is that you may be over-idealizing the public school experience as well (since you didn't grow up in it). Not being in school created some severe suffering for you. Nobody's denying that. The thing is many of us that did go to public school suffered many various "traumas" there as well, many can even sympathize with your difficulty of adjustment to college life. So i think in a way what is being said is trying to reassure you that what you experienced as college "culture shock" might not be as bad as you think (not that your suffering isn't real, just that it happens in varying degrees to many of us) I feel your struggle internally as i try and write this out to you. Not wanting to offend or minimize what you went through and yet wanting at the same time to say "you might not see the whole picture"…. there's more to it yet. I personally feel "scared" when i see you talking about public education being mandatory for every kid! I really think that there are so many different ways to grow up and we all have "gaps" in our academic and social educations. What about 3rd culture kids, what about immigrants, what about handicapped people, what about … ??? It's part of the beauty of the human experience to be free to do these things…and look, you had a painful transition but you are not a misfit… your voice here is powerful. You even did make friends (even though you were uncomfortable at first) and changed your point of view and everything…this shows that you are a strong, capable, thinking person. and though the fact of if never going to prom might be chalked up as a "loss" you are just fine without it too. As you said you develop a "tough skin" you might have had to do it a few years after a lot of people do …but it's painful no matter what the age. I don't know if what i'm saying will make you more upset or help in any way but i do think it's important somehow to let yourself "hear" what a lot of your readers are trying to say… you don't have to have a specific answer back, just try (i would suggest) to think about it a little more…

  • africaturtle

    I think another secondary debate here is also pertaining to the "goal" of schooling. Is the most important part the academics? Is it the "how" of learning or the "what"? or both? Is it the sporting events, the social activities and spirit week? Is it college prep? Is it finding friends and keeping them? Is it learning about all these people your with every day or is it about what the teacher's reading from the textbook? The answers to these questions will determine a parents priorities as well. And yes, even having the possibility to choose homeschool or private is a privilege.My husband is a public high school teacher in france. After 2 yrs in the system he had absolutely NO qualms about the idea of homeschooling all of our kids. It's not cause public school is SO terrible. It had nothing to do with religious conviction either. These were his main observations (and i think, from my experience it's pretty much the same in the US) : Arriving at the High School level "IN GENERAL" Students have no INTRINSIC desire to learn the subjects they are studying. All subject matter is spoon-fed to them so they can "spit" it back out on a standardized test somewhere down the line. Students see adults/teachers as the "enemy" (there is no sense of common goal/teamwork). The system itself instills this conflict from the youngest years onward.The student spends their day "managing" their social crises (texting, gossiping, teasing, primping, flirting, etc.) pretty much indifferent to what is going on academically.Everyone is more worried about their "immage" than about getting a good education, this means it is not "cool" to know the right answer or to act like you enjoy the class….and when everyone plays "dumb" the class cannot move forward academically.Add on to that the frustration from the teacher's side of classes that are way to large to handle appropriately and "academic agendas" that are passed down from the "administration" expecting teachers to implement them with no concrete means of doing so… and you can see there are a lot of problems at hand there that would leave a conscientious teacher or parent wondering about the "good" of the system. now, if we can see these faults in the "system" it then still begs the question of if we should work "within" the existing system to better it all around or if we should just run the other way and find a different solution all together…

  • africaturtle

    I forgot to add on the sheer "inefficiency" of the school day. (esp in france!) I drop my kids off at 8:30 and pick them up at 4:30 In high school it's more like 5pm (plus bus time) then they have class on Saturday sometimes too. When my mom homeschooled my little brother (and yes he was academicly up-to-par but socially highly sheltered… He LOVES public school after choosing to transition in at jr.high)anyways, he finished his days before lunch! 2-4 hrs of study time vs. 8hrs! that's HUGE (esp when you're only 5) !(just to clarify our kids are actually in public school, but we question the system A LOT)

  • Anonymous

    Anyone ever consider that social awkwardness might be more due to personality factors than public vs homeschool experience? Some people are simply better at picking up on subtleties and social cues, and will be more skilled at adapting to new and unfamiliar environments. And, having an adjustment period at college or wherever is by no means a tragedy in any case.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    Africturtle, I agree that it's interesting to see the varied experiences and opinions here. Libby Anne, I know you requested that we homeschoolers don't get defensive, but then you made some broad generalizations about homeschooling in your post that made it hard for me not to get defensive. I don't laugh off the whole "socialization" thing, but I make many efforts to give my kids opportunities to be around other kids, in both structured (athletic) and unstructured (free play) situations. I oppose the idea that good socialization cannot occur without huge groups of same-aged peers and I also oppose the idea that those settings somehow guarantee "good" socialization. Brawne Lamia, to answer your question about what homeschooled kids' peers would say about them being well socialized, I can tell you that all of my daughter's team mates, coaches, and the team mates' parents are incredibly surprised when they find out at some point in the soccer season that she is homeschooled. I think that not only the parents' goal with homeschooling, but the individual kids have a lot to do with the socialization aspect. My son is five and incredibly active. I would go so far as to say he would be diagnosed with ADHD if I were interested in pursuing such a diagnosis. He would never be able to sit in a desk for 7 hours a day and learn as well as behave. I think "socialization" in traditional school for him right now would have an incredibly negative impact on his view of education, possibly tainting it for the rest of his school years.In Kentucky, less than 40% of all high school graduates are considered college or career ready. Another way to view that is that 60% are NOT ready to enter society after high school.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    Leanna, speaking as someone with severe ADHD that wasn't diagnosed until my 20s, I REALLY REALLY REALLY encourage you to pursue a diagnosis for your son even if you do not put him in school. When people grow up with undiagnosed ADHD, they learn from society that their problem behaviours are due to character flaws–as one popular book on ADHD puts it, that they are lazy, stupid, or crazy. Most of the adults in an undiagnosed ADHD child's life usually communicate this to them–you're probably not doing so to your son, since you know what's going on with him and try to work with his brain rather than against it, but any other adults your son encounters probably will. ADHD traits annoy authority figures, and are generally perceived as originating from lack of effort. Most people, when they see a person who is late all the time, doesn't remember things, and can't pay attention, don't think the person has ADHD. They think "Oh, that person doesn't care about what they're doing." That is how people will likely react to your son unless he gets a diagnosis.Most people with undiagnosed ADHD end up with very low self-esteem, along with other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, by adulthood as a result. A diagnosis is a godsend for them, because they finally figure out that no, they couldn't have made all their problems go away if only they'd tried harder, so they don't need to hate themselves for not trying hard enough. However, it is very difficult to undo the effects of all the derogatory messages they have gotten from society for so many years, especially since anxiety and a failure to understand one's own limitations can worsen ADHD symptoms. An ADHD diagnosis is by FAR your son's best shot at avoiding some of this. There are still a lot of people who don't understand ADHD, and some of them really don't WANT to understand, but the level of ADHD knowledge among people who work with children for a living is way better than it used to be. If people working with your son know that he has ADHD, they are much more likely to accept his limitations and recognize when he is making an effort, rather than criticizing him for behaviour he cannot control. Furthermore, if you educate your son about how his brain works, he will have a narrative about himself that makes sense, which he can use to counter negative messages that he gets from society based on his ADHD traits. A diagnosis will give him a chance at decent self-esteem and dramatically improve his chances of a healthy, happy adult life. Your son would probably also function much better on ADHD medication. For most people with ADHD, it is much easier to function in life if they are on medication. The need for medication becomes more acute in the increasingly demanding situations that people encounter as they get older, such as college classes and jobs, and many people with untreated ADHD who functioned well as children become less functional as life's demands get greater. Medication also makes it easier to avoid earning the ire of people who will denigrate anyone who shows ADHD traits (and that's a LOT of people), which is very helpful for self-esteem and life success.Please carefully consider what I'm saying. If your son truly has ADHD, diagnosis and treatment are extremely important for his long-term welfare.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Sheena:Students should absolutely know what options are available to them. I'm undoubtedly misinterpreting you, but it sounded to me like you thought that if students in the early stages of bullying could just be taught to manage the situation, they wouldn't be bullied. The solutions most presented to victims of bullies in my experience was for that student to change their behavior, and for many kids, when this fails, or when the kids are unable to comply, frequently, the kids are blamed. Since this isn't what you were trying to suggest I agree, we've been talking pas one another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Kisekilea,Thank you for this:"Please carefully consider what I'm saying. If your son truly has ADHD, diagnosis and treatment are extremely important for his long-term welfare."I am sending this link to my boarder whose little brother is ADHA and mom thinks she's helping by home schooling. I don't know why she's so afraid of diagnosis and meds.The thing is, this kid is always facing rejection at HOME! His own family gives him grief all day every day. His sister rolls her eyes at him, everyone acts like the kid is a huge pain. It breaks my heart. It's not that they don't love him; they do. They also show him affection, but they are so often annoyed by him just being himself. I can't see how facing that kind of rejection at home is somehow better than facing it at school. I really, strongly encouraged his big sister to talk to mom about it. Your comment will no doubt be more potent, as you are speaking from experience where I am only speaking from observation.:(

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    You're very welcome, shadowspring. I understand your boarder's brother's situation very well, because my parents still don't accept that my ADHD traits, other disability symptoms, and their results in my life are outside my control. Four years after diagnosis, I still have trouble figuring out when I'm genuinely trying hard to do something because I was told for so long that I must not be trying, because I manifested behaviours that are commonly attributed to lack of effort but were actually due to ADHD. I reposted my comment about ADHD on a community for adults with ADHD here. I think you, your boarder, and (I hope) Leanna will be interested in seeing how the comments unfold.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    I'd also like to add that your boarder's mother needs to take at least herself, if not her family to several appointments with an ADHD specialist after having her son assessed. She needs to learn how to relate to her son in a way that is less destructive. Her current behaviour is likely causing him serious emotional harm.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "boomSLANG: A child who is pulled out of public school due to bullying will probably be BETTER equipped to deal with bullies as an adult than one who is kept in despite relentless bullying that the parents cannot stop." ~ kisekileiaI can see how pulling a bullied child out of public school makes them better off, as in safer, but "BETTER equipped"? Really? I don't see it…well, unless the parent can explain what processes or methods that they will use at home that "equips" the child for possible bullying later on, for instance, when/if they encounter adult bullies in the work-force. "A child who has been pulled out of school due to bullying, and given intensive psychological support to help reduce the emotional damage the bullying has caused, will be much better equipped to handle bullying as an adult than a bullied person who was kept in an unsafe environment and/or did not get the help they needed."That may very well be true, but the common denominator in those scenarios is that the child has already encountered bullying..i.e…it's after the fact. Thus, regardless of if the child gets professional help, or not, they know what to (maybe) expect later on and they know what signs to look for. In contrast, in the scenario that I was proposing in a previous post, the child hasn't ever set foot in public school, and my point is/was, that he or she won't be any more equipped or less shell-shocked when/if they encounter bullies in the work-force.


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