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Socialization - What is that anyway?

posted Mar 28, 2011, 5:37 PM by K Day   [ updated Nov 10, 2011, 11:45 AM ]
Socialization is one of the "Hot Topics" of homeschooling and I worried about it endlessly the first few months we homeschooled. Life is an everlasting opportunity to live and learn and in the last few months I've learned not to worry about socialization. I often wonder if people talking about "Socialization" actually know what it means. Here's what Dictionary.com has to say about it

1. A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. 

Much of the chatter about homeschooling and socialization is the question of "How will a homeschool child be socialized?"  It's as if people have this idea that all kids entering Kindergarten are not "socialized" and they can't be considered to be "socialized" until after they go to an institutionalized "school", because the only place a child can "get socialized" is "at school". I submit that children are socialized from birth. It could come in the form of internal family dynamics or external play dates, youth groups, dance class or any other group setting. Children are becoming socialized BEFORE they ever step foot into "school". So why should it change just because they reach the age, the government deemed it appropriate, to go to school? I'm not sure. 

There is the idea that, even if your child is socialized before school, they need to go to school to learn "the rules", how to follow instructions and of course get to experience the "bully" on the playground. I don't get that. Most of us had to face the bully on the playground and most of us wouldn't want that for our kids. It certainly didn't teach me conflict resolution, how to interact with people or "how to deal". In fact one might say having to deal with bullies, peer pressure and teachers would cause a child to become introverted, not socialized in a positive manner. 

If you look at the definition literally several questions come to mind. 
- Do I/you believe a child can be unique and acquire a personal identity spending all day with 30 peers of the same age, region and being taught the exact same thing? 
- Do I/you really want our children to be "normal" & "socialized" when normal means (as of mid 2010)
        - About a 50% drop out rate
        - More than 11,000 babies being born to teenage girls 
        - Graduating from high school with a 3rd grade reading level? 
- Do I/you want our children to learn their values, behaviors and social skills from the other children (and the teacher), their age, whom you may or may not know? 

I think it's good to have the conversation but in the end it is the responsibility, not just the right, of the parent to guide their child through life in the best way they can. Every child is unique and what works for one may not work for another. Homeschooling isn't right for everyone and neither is conventional, institutionalized school. Perhaps the lesson to take away is to treat one another with respect, keep your comments logical and filled with value, leave judgement at the door and always, always deliver your message with all the love and kindness in your heart.