Homeschool Socialization? 5 Great Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Lose Sleep Over It

homeschool socialization

Homeschool socialization has been a hot topic for years. Here’s a look at our reasons why it shouldn’t be.

One of the most common comments we homeschoolers hear is, “Yeah, homeschooling sounds good, but what about socialization?” 

Despite all of the advances in homeschooling over the past two decades, there still seems to be a pervasive idea that homeschoolers stay at home all the time, avoiding interaction with the outside world.

*Cue the images of a homeschool mom wearing a denim jumper and kids who bashfully duck their heads behind her legs when confronted with a social situation.

Now that we’re entering our tenth year of homeschool, I can confidently say that this image couldn’t be farther from the truth!

When it comes to socialization, I’ve actually learned that homeschool socialization usually takes care of itself in the long run

Yes, there are extreme exceptions from time to time, but for the most part, I’m standing behind this claim.

Keep reading and I’ll explain. 

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What is socialization?

It’s important to note that when we talk about homeschool socialization, we’re really talking about a few things.

Socialization (of any type) typically means that kids are learning to:

  1. Understand social norms in a broader society
  2. Develop “social fluency,” which allows them to deal with a variety of social situations and types of relationships
  3. Be tolerant of others with different cultural backgrounds

Please note that successful socialization does NOT imply or require popularity!

Common concerns about homeschooling and socialization

Obviously, public-schooled kids typically have more constant opportunities for social interaction than homeschooled kids. 

This is simply because public-schooled kids are in school for just under seven hours a day.

(And many education policymakers are pushing for extended public school days! But that’s a topic for a different time!) 

Many people believe that because homeschooled kids don’t spend 35 hours a week in a public setting, homeschoolers are lonely, unable to communicate well with their peers, or are socially awkward. 

In our recent Google search, we led with the query, “Are homeschoolers …”

And the top three results were the words:

  1. Smarter?
  2. Happier?
  3. Socially awkward?

While these may be the commonly-held beliefs about homeschooled kids, let’s see what the research really suggests about homeschooling and socialization, shall we?

What research regarding homeschooling and socialization suggests

According to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

There is a large body of research focused on whether or not children who are homeschooled are well-socialized. Most of this research finds that being homeschooled does not harm children’s development of social skills … In fact, some research finds that homeschooled children score more highly than children who attend school on measurements of socialization.

Additionally, studies from the University of Harvard’s Human Flourishing Project reveal that “those who were home-schooled were subsequently more likely to volunteer, to have a sense of purpose, to be forgiving, to attend religious services in young adulthood, to have fewer lifetime sexual partners, and to have notably less marijuana use.” 

(If any of these things makes a homeschooler “socially awkward,” I think I’m okay with that.)

Before we move on, it IS important to note that not all homeschooled kids have the same opportunities for socialization. 

For example, one homeschooled child may be on a baseball team with several weekly practices, piano lessons, and a once-a-week homeschool co-op while another homeschooled child may not participate in any activities outside the home. 

But it seems clear that homeschooling alone is not the culprit in causing homeschooled kids to be less socially capable than their public school counterparts. 

Bottom line: homeschooling socialization isn’t worse than public school socialization, and it may even be better. 

But with all of that being said, keep reading to check out our top 5 reasons why you don’t need to lose any sleep over homeschool socialization!

Related article: Should I Homeschool My Child? 10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Worry about Homeschool Socialization

Now that we’ve looked at some of the recent research about homeschool socialization, here are 5 reasons why you don’t need to be concerned about it anymore!

1. It’s actually common for homeschool moms to overcompensate with social opportunities

In our experience, we’ve found the exact opposite of the perpetual idea that homeschoolers stay at home, avoiding contact with the outside world.

Instead, it seems that homeschool moms often overcompensate for a perceived lack of socialization by getting their kids involved in many, many different activities!

For example, in our own home, our kids currently participate in a homeschool co-op, competitive gymnastics, piano and voice lessons, parkour, gymkata, church youth activities, book clubs, and regular service projects.

Other things they’ve done in the past include: robotics club, ballet and tap dance, violin, swimming lessons, STEM club, church choir, Wild and Free, and more.

The next time someone asks you about your kids’ socialization, don’t be afraid to pull out your calendar and let them have a look!

2. Socialization can happen anywhere.

There seems to be a common thought that the proper way for kids to become socialized is through the public school system.

Interestingly enough, the public school system is actually a relatively new social construct.

In 1918, one-quarter of all schools in the United States were still one-room schoolhouses.

It wasn’t until the popularization of the modern school bus in the mid-1940s that most kids began to attend larger schools, similar to what most kids attend today.

So here’s our point: until 80 years ago, how did anyone become “properly” socialized?

Instead, it’s important to remember that public school isn’t the only avenue for socialization.

Rather, socialization happens by interacting with anyone, anywhere … and it doesn’t have to be in a public school classroom!  

Related article: 9 Awesome Tips to Help with Socializing Homeschoolers

3. Public school socialization can actually be quite negative.

While we’re on the topic of public schools, let’s admit this together now: the socialization norm for public schools really isn’t that great in the first place.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Public schooling actually creates abnormal modes of socialization, because after graduation, kids never find themselves in a setting with peers who are the exact same age.
  • It can be difficult for a student to get away from very negative social situations, such as bullying.
  • Class sizes are typically very large, so teachers are often unaware of negative social situations.
  • Since the pandemic, violence in public schools is on the rise again.
  • Popularity is often based on negative behaviors, such as aggressiveness or an overemphasis on physical attractiveness.

Finally, take a minute and think about whether or not you’ve ever met a socially-awkward public schooler. We’re willing to bet your answer will be an emphatic yes.

The bottom line: attending public school is not a guarantee that a child will be socially “successful,” whatever that means!

4. Socialization really isn’t as important as many people think it is

It’s always interesting to me that many non-homeschoolers ask about socialization first.

Isn’t the point of going to school to get an education?

Sure, social education may be an important part of that, but to us, it’s definitely more of secondary importance.

And as mentioned before, why is public school socialization so easily accepted as the “right” way to be socialized?

There are many more things I hope for my children than for them to be properly socialized. Some of the things I hope they’ll learn are empathy and compassion, the value of hard work, a growth mindset, religious values, and the importance of loving and accepting themselves and others.

5. Recent data shows that homeschoolers actually aren’t socially awkward

As we mentioned in the section above, recent data indicates that homeschoolers actually aren’t less socialized than their public school peers.

Instead, it seems that they may be doing even better.

Homeschoolers benefit from opportunities to interact with people of all ages and stages of life on a regular basis.

Additionally, as a homeschool parent, I have more of an opportunity to influence who my children socialize with. And as their parent, I am (hopefully) more aware of any negative socialization they may experience.

How to answer the homeschool socialization question

If you’ve been asked, “Well, what about socialization?” by your friends or relatives, you know that it can sometimes feel like a challenge.

Before you react in anger, frustration, or defensiveness, take a moment to consider the motivation of the person who is asking. 

Are they asking about your kids’ socialization from a place of genuine concern? Or are they trying to make you feel small?

If they really want to know, share this article with them!

But if the person asking seems to be challenging your decision to homeschool, remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation beyond “We are doing what we feel is best for our family.” 

Final thoughts about homeschool socialization:

Before we finish this article, it’s time for a full confession on my part: 

Years ago, as a senior in college, I was talking with a group of friends after a church activity and the subject of our future kids came up. 

One of my friends mentioned that she might want to homeschool her kids someday. 

I was aghast. 

“What?!” I exclaimed. “Homeschool kids are so weird! I’d NEVER homeschool my kids – I don’t want them to be social misfits.” 

Oh, how ignorant I was then.

Perhaps homeschoolers have come a long way in the past twenty years since I shared my strong opinions with my college-aged friends. Or maybe I simply misjudged. (Probably a bit of both, I’d imagine.)

Now I know from personal experience that homeschoolers can be very successful socially.

While I do think my own kids are pretty great, I have interacted with hundreds of bright, positive, and incredibly socialized homeschoolers over the past ten years.

Homeschool socialization does happen and it typically happens very well. So don’t lose any more sleep over it, okay mama?

Related articles about homeschooling life:

59 Inspirational Homeschool Quotes That All Homeschool Moms Need to Read

How to Easily Create a Fabulous Homeschool Library

Dealing With Homeschool Burnout? You Need These 7 Great Tips!

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What are your thoughts about homeschool socialization?

Homeschool Socialization? 5 Great Reasons Why You Don\'t Need to Lose Sleep Over ItHomeschool Socialization? 5 Great Reasons Why You Don\'t Need to Lose Sleep Over ItHomeschool Socialization? 5 Great Reasons Why You Don\'t Need to Lose Sleep Over ItHomeschool Socialization? 5 Great Reasons Why You Don\'t Need to Lose Sleep Over It

Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

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