Why Do People Assume Homeschooled Children don't Socialise?

One of the biggest questions any parent who decides to homeschool has to face is the inevitable, "but what about them socialising with other children"? This morning I had a telephone call with a client and we got talking about the current trip we are on, and how we're able to do it because we homeschool. Very quickly, the guy tells me his personal opinion is that he would never homeschool because it is too important to him that his children socialise.

It made me think, why do people assume that homeschooled children don't socialise? Do people really believe that by homeschooling you lock your children behind closed doors all day, never to see another friend or peer again? Sorry to break it to you guys, but our children get to socialise plenty! Not only do my children go off and enjoy their own independence when travelling in our caravan, thus making lots of new friends in many different places, we are also part of home ed communities in our local area.

People don't seem to realise that there is a huge home-educating community, hardly surprising given that over 75,000 children in the UK are homeschooled. Parents can join local home ed groups via Facebook and Whatsapp. These groups are usually friendly, supportive, inviting, and helpful, offering lots of tips, insights, and information about group meetings, days out, and more importantly, legal facts when it comes to choosing to school at home. Home ed info offers a full list of groups all over the country. As well as home ed groups, lots of attractions people usually visit during weekends and school holidays, are open at discounted rates for home educating families during weekdays and term time. A savvy business like your local ice-rink recognises a gap in the market, a potential revenue stream when they might otherwise be quiet. In the area I live in alone, there are sessions at the local ice rink, rock climbing, adventure park, and of course, there are forest schools and lots of other groups specifically aimed at the home educating family. All you have to do is research it.

In fact, home-educated children who participate in such groups, are probably socialising more than a child in mainstream school. Because how much socialising does a school child really get anyway? There is no denying children in a school play with other children, but who is to say they get more of a quality interaction than that of a homeschooled child? After all, the most they get out of their 6 or so hour day, is an hour and a half of playtime including breaks and lunch. A homeschooled child attending a meet-up group will easily achieve more than an hour and a half playtime in a single day.

There's another important aspect to the social life of a home-educated child, and that's getting to make decisions about their environment and their peers that you can't always get at school. I'll give you one word, bullies. A child in a mainstream school that is unlucky enough to fall victim to bullying, will no doubt enter the system of complaint vs compromise. A bullied child's parents will inevitably complain, and the school will promise to 'look into things'. But 9 times out of 10, that poor child still has to face the same bully every day, the bullying is usually not resolved quickly, and there are not always watchful eyes paying attention to what is going on. In a home-educated meet-up, this is very different. If the situation can't be resolved between the parents, a choice can be made about whether or not to ever attend that same group again. Children are not forced to endure.

My children have a strong ability to make friends very easily, they have not been affected in their social skills whatsoever by being homeschooled. We travel a lot and by doing so my children make brand new friends every time. When we are at home, we attend meet-up groups and of course, my children still play with friends from the local area and old school friends too. As we, like many homeschool families, do not have set holidays, and we certainly don't have an entire 6-week Summer break, we continue our meet-ups. Do parents of children in mainstream school do that? Do their children socialise anywhere near as much as they assume their children do when they are at school, once they get to the 6-week summer holiday? One has to wonder.

So the next time someone assumes that your homeschooled child doesn't socialise, make sure you ask them if their child's 1.5-hour break at school, is more of a benefit than your child's uninterrupted full day of play whilst at a meet-up group. I would love to know their response! Share in the comments with me please, some of the best responses you've had to the age-old socialising debate.

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