Why I Don’t Want My Kids “Socialized” in Public School |
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Why I Don’t Want My Kids “Socialized” in Public School

admin July 10, 2013

Probably the first and most popular “complaint” that homeschooling parents hear is “What about socialization?”

Now that my oldest is 5 and would be going into kindergarten this fall, people I meet have started to ask: “Is she going to school?  Where is she going?”  And then I answer, “We’re homeschooling…I’m not sure what school she would have gone to.”  (In my city there are many districts and many schools within each.  I really have no clue.)  Then I feel like that parent.  Oh, those weird homeschoolers who think they are better than others.

Totally not true.  Everyone chooses the type of schooling that works for their family.  This post isn’t about why homeschooling is a better choice (except, for us.  It’s totally better for us).  This post is why the socialization myth is one I absolutely have to bust.  It’s totally wrong that my homeschooled kids don’t socialize; there are lots of ways to accomplish that.  And I don’t want my kids to be socialized in a public school anyway.

I Went to Public School

I went to public school myself, K-12.  I know what it is like there.  I know that the kids can be curious about other ways.  I know for the first 3 – 4 years they overlook familial differences and don’t form any sort of “social classes” and they’re generally pretty inclusive.

But then, it changes.  Somewhere around the 4th grade, they start to figure it out.  Some people are “better” than others.  Some people are “weird.”  And weird is bad.  You can’t stand out.  Differences are not appreciated, especially if they are of the slow, nerdy, ‘strange’ (think, dresses in all black/enjoys reading encyclopedias for fun/would rather hang out with the lunch lady than the other kids) variety.

There is no way to avoid this.  Kids are naturally curious about what makes them different from others.  They are beginning to pick up on the attitudes of the adults around them, including their parents.  I don’t know a single adult who, in private, is 100% non-judgmental and inclusive.  And even if they are, there’s that little thing called peer pressure.

So many people grow up to hate those who tormented them in school.  Some never outgrow wanting to “show the bully” how successful they are, how they rose above the poor treatment they received.  There are entire books, movies, and TV shows dedicated to these issues.

Look at the wildly popular show, The Big Bang Theory.  How often do the characters on that show discuss how they wish their bullies could see them today, how nerds “really” run the world, and how the character Penny (who is of average intelligence and is considered beautiful, and was very popular in high school) used to be a bully and the fully grown Bernadette and Amy characters, both of whom have Ph.D.s and successful adult lives are “lucky” just to be her friend?

It’s not just fodder for TV.  It’s a reflection of the real world, in this case.  Schools are cracking down on bullying, working under a so-called “zero tolerance” policy (that is an issue for another day…).  Young boys and girls are committing suicide over teasing and torturing they receive in school because they are too stupid, too smart, too fat, too poor, too rich, too…something.

Having been on the receiving end of it the majority of my school years, I know what it’s like.  I know the feeling of being on the “outside” and wishing to fit, wondering why I didn’t, wondering how I should or could change.  I wish now I could go back 15 years and tell myself it doesn’t matter, that they don’t set the standard for what is good or right, and that there are many ways to be that are perfectly good and fine, even if they’re not common.  But this isn’t about me.

Setting Standards By Peer Demands

I do not want my children to pick up on “the way the world works” when they are still young and fragile.  I do not want them to think there is something wrong with them because we make different choices in religion, food, medicine, and so on.  They are fully well aware that we do make different choices — I am very honest with them that most other families vaccinate because they believe it is best for them, that they eat processed food because they don’t know it is not healthy, that their babies are born in hospitals, and so on.  They know that what we do is not that common outside our circle of friends (where most are a lot like us).

It’s not about hiding the world from them.  It’s not about pretending “all that other stuff” doesn’t exist.  That’s foolish, because someday they will realize and they will wonder, unless you tell them.

What it is about is letting us set the standards for them.  Letting us teach them what is right and what is wrong.  Letting us allow them to be who they are and grow confident in it.  It’s about keeping them away from this ridiculous peer pressure and impossible peer standards at a time when their identities are still forming.

It does not bother me now if someone thinks I am weird for canning food or not vaccinating.  I feel confident I’ve made the right choice for my family and I know that I don’t have to live to others’ standards.  Because I am an adult.  Kids just don’t have those solid convictions yet.  They can’t until they reach a certain age and learn to think abstractly and form their own sense of identity.  I want to help them realize whoever they are is okay, and help them figure out what that is, without the input of their peers.  They don’t need that sort of nonsense.

Maybe part of this is in reaction to what I experienced as a kid, but as I’ve noted, it’s only too real today — bullying is a huge topic in society.  The problem hasn’t gone away.  If I can save my kids from that, I will.

socialized in public school

Living in the “Real World”

My kids still live in the real world, and so do I.

I let them know that others will disagree with us.  I let them know that others have different ways of thinking.  purposely tell them about ways people are different.  “Did you know some Mommies work during the day and someone else cares for their kids?  Did you know sometimes Daddies do all the grocery shopping and cooking?  Did you know some Mommies have their babies cut out of their tummies?  Did you know some babies are fed with bottles?  Did you know most kids go to school in a building with other kids?”

They know these things.  And people talk to them about these things.  These things are depicted in books we read and shows we watch.

The difference is, they think of these things as abstract.  Stuff other people do.  Like we do things our way.  They don’t think of it as a judgment on what we do, and they don’t think of what we do as a judgment on others’ choices.  We co-exist peacefully.

And yeah, they’re socialized.  They’re not shy at all (I tend to be) and they love to run up to people they meet and introduce themselves and start a conversation.  It does not matter to them if the person they meet is old, young, fat, thin, black, white, etc.  They are equally interested in all people.  They don’t care about differences.  They’re not going to be taught that one person is better or worse than another, because I’m not going to teach them that, and they’re not going to be in school to learn it the hard way.

The other day we went to the playground.  A woman stopped walking and turned off her music device to talk to all of us.  The kids introduced themselves and Nathan and talked to her for awhile, then she left.  Another woman and her two kids came along awhile later.  They introduced themselves to her, and started talking to the kids.  When the little boy (2) ran his tricycle into the playground and got it stuck on the ledge, my kids rushed to help him.

When the mail man drives by our house, my daughter begs to go outside and talk to him.

When we go to a playground or to the zoo or any other larger gathering of people, my daughter will pick up the baby and go introduce him and herself to a random stranger, then ask the stranger to hold Nathan for awhile, because she is so proud he is her brother and wants to share him.

When we visited my husband’s office, my oldest son offered to shake hands with every adult he met as he introduced himself (we didn’t teach him to do that, either — he’s picked up on it from observation).

My 22-month-old waves to people as we take walks.  If someone he doesn’t know should pick him up, he just smiles.

The kids run across people of all ages, races, religions, genders, and more every single day.  We also get together with friends fairly often and they have plenty of semi-supervised peer-to-peer time.  (What I mean by “semi-supervised” is like us moms sit on benches at the edge of the playground and chat.  We can see them, but we’re not micromanaging their interactions.)

They’ll grow up just fine, with a pretty good idea about what you might find in the world.  What they won’t grow up with is doubting if they are good enough.  Wondering if their peers are right, after all, and they’re too weird.  Wondering if making choices outside the mainstream really is “wrong.”  That’s the way I want it.  When they come across that first “bully” who would tell them they are too weird to fit in, I want them to laugh and say “There’s nothing wrong with me.  We’re just different people.  How do you know you’re just not cool enough to hang out with me?”

How do you feel about kids being socialized in public school?  If you are sending your kids to public school, how are you combating the bullying issue?

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54 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue. We have a 3 year old and a 3 months old and are going to home school. The main reason for this is that we want them to be their own person before they meet the real pressure of the world. .

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  2. I love this post! That’s the question we are asked most often as well, which in itself is a little odd; not, “are you worried you can give them a complete education” but “are you worried they won’t be socialized”. Just because public school socialization is the norm doesn’t mean it’s ideal. My kids’ great-grandma commented after a birthday party that talking to my 6-year-old was like having a conversation with an adult, which is basically true: she is used to “socializing” with adults, as well as kids her own age and younger and older, and she is fully capable of handling herself in any of those situations, and she loves it! I definitely don’t feel like I am depriving my kids of a necessary life skill by not letting them be socialized mostly by their peers in a school setting.

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    • I have had a relative observe the same in my son and saw it as a negative and inappropriate thing. She finds it negative that he weighs what an adults says and considers it’s validity before deciding how to respond to it. This aspect of treating children as people with choices does make life more difficult at times but I believe that overall it will improve the quality of not only the child’s entire life but that of the community they belong to.

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  3. This is exactly what I need to be able to tell my friends, family, and co-workers! I just couldn’t express it as well as you did Kate. Thanks so much for this post, it really puts into words the way I feel about public school and the whole “socialization” question.

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  4. Thank you for this post, Kate. As someone who has homeschooled for many years (my oldest is 17), I will let you know that the people who had this very question/doubt about my kids being socialized no longer have any doubts about it. My children are much more confident than I ever was in public schools. They are easily able to socialize with any age group. I know public school kids who are confident as well, so I’m not trying to say anything negative about them. They just don’t have the same burden of proof that homeschoolers have, because homeschooling is still considered alternative. So I am just here to say that I have seen firsthand that the socialization issue is really a non-issue.

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    • People need only meet my husband. He was homeschooled 3 – 12 and is a very confident, outgoing person (compared to me anyway!). 🙂 It’s fun to meet teens/adults who have been homeschooled!

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  5. Great post, thank you 🙂
    This issue perplexes me greatly – I went to college to become a teacher – dreamt of it since I was a little girl. Poor experiences as a student teacher – dropped the idea of teaching altogether. Now I am a mama to two boys – my oldest will be 5 in September and will be trying Pre-K. He has a bit of general anxiety and had major set backs when we attempted pre-school at age 3. Too young – no problem. I worked FT but did so much with him at home. He spent his days on our family farm with my in-laws. He had to endure a traumatic eye surgery at 3 1/2 and this caused PTSD and increased his anxiety and separation was horrific. He still struggles some but we have attended a bit of therapy and I resigned after having our 2nd son last July. My struggle is even though I grew up in public schools, pined to teach forever and always looked forward to my kids going to school… Why does it make me sick to my stomach to think of sending them now that the time has come? 🙁
    My husband and I both fear the thought and we are an extremely tight-knit family -we want to shelter them from the harsh world but not keep them from enjoying new experiences and making friends. Sorry for the long comment – just venting…. I’ve considered homeschooling, but as Amber stated above… My biggest concern is could I do them justice by teaching them?? I am not brilliant by any means, but am I capable of providing a proper education? We are going to see how it goes this year and decide from there… Ugh!!! I hate feeling so unsettled. Thanks for listening (reading!).

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    • Hi Raimee! Thanks for feeling so comfortable to share you story and your fears here!!! I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles … and I pray that from this moment your days get easier! I also am praying peace over your decision making. You’re strong and not even knowing you I have confidence in you to do whatever you put your hand to! 🙂

      Regarding the homeschooling … I was homeschooled my entire childhood. We all loved it so much and looking back on it there are very few things I would change. Now, as an adult, I face my first year of homeschooling my own children. My daughter is 6 and will be starting 1st grade in about 4 weeks. I did excellent in grade school but college was a challenge. Mostly because I felt the social pressure kids put on each other. I never achieved a college degree. There are days that I feel totally inadequate when it comes to being a teacher. But, really, what defines that? I think we do. We are our own worst critic when it comes to being able to teach our children.
      My husband and I have decided to homeschool at least through the 3rd grade in order to give our children the foundation WE feel is appropriate. Realistically, we’ll probably homeschool all the way through.

      I am smart. I am intelligent. I know I’m making the right choice. I am scared. Because this is so new I’m really scared.
      It’s completely normal to feel scared and inadequate when trying something new. But, in our case, we KNOW that this is right for our family and we KNOW that with God’s help we can do this. There are so many teaching aides for all grades and subjects that we really aren’t so much more than overseers of our children’s education. Children WANT to learn and with the right direction they soak up like sponges the information presented to them. At least this is what I tell myself in order to bring my feet back to the ground lol! It’s so easy to complicate this and create a situation to be fearful of. We can do anything we say we can do 😉

      One step, one day, one lesson at a time.

      In our house we always say ‘be led by peace’. Do what brings peace to your heart. Making decisions to do or not do something based on fear will likely result in some regret. You guys are good parents and will make the right decision when the time comes 🙂

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    • I just wanted to touch on your last question …do not worry about your ability to teach them! There are many reasons to homeschool, and many reasons not to — homeschooling is not the right choice for every single kid and every single family, I have to admit that as much as I loved being homeschooled myself. However, if you have even a high school diploma, you are certainly qualified to teach a child through elementary school. There are so many resources out there! Some lay out a daily curriculum for you to alleviate any fear that you are not covering “enough” or the “right” things. Others allow more freedom and flexibility. Many parents start out with one of those curricula and then loosen up and get more creativie as they get more comfortable.

      As someone who worked in many schools — many, many teachers are not particularly bright. Education programs are notorious for being the opposite of rigorous. I don’t say this to slam teachers — there are many wonderful and dedicated teachers out there. But you don’t *have* to be a genius to teach a kid how to read. You have to be patient, willing to try different things, and concerned about the kid as an individual. But just because you don’t remember how to balance equations doesn’t mean you can’t teach a kid up through elementary school.

      As for high school … lots of people homeschool elementary and then send their kids to high school. But there are lots of great curricula for high school as well, and if you don’t remember algebra or chemistry or whatever subject, learning alongside your child (and there are great self-teaching books and videos out there) is a great experience! And you can always find a tutor for particular subjects if you want/need the help.

      So good luck with making the right choice for your family … which may or may not be homeschooling … but don’t worry that you *can’t* do it! And remember you can decide on a year by year basis, too!

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    • Raimee,
      You sound intelligent and well educated. I pray that you will look closer at your feeling of “unsettledness”. Use this as your indicator that your current choice and decision is not, perhaps, as it should be. You state that you would feel comfortable teaching someone else’s child, but not your own. Consider that you may have received this education for such a time as this! Recognize your God given strength within, and allow it to transfer to your children. Parents, particularly mothers, were given these feelings, intuitions, discernments for a reason. Bless your children with the favor of your time and love.

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  6. I really liked what you had to say here! I was homeschooled my whole life, so I don’t know what it’s like to have to go through the public or even private school thing. When I say that I would like to homeschool my future children, people often ask this question. Thanks for giving me some new ideas on what to tell them! One other thing, when you said you tell your children that ‘some Mommies get their baby’s cut out of them’, ‘some Mommies have their baby’s in hospitals’, I hope you would also remember that sometimes Mommies can’t help that. It’s not always a choice they can make. My mother would like to have home births, or even just natural births in a hospital, but for the last four babies she had to have either emergency or scheduled C-sections.

    Thanks!
    Heidi

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    • Just wanted to say that you are sweet for making the point that many mommies can’t help having to have a C-section. I wanted natural births, but that is not what God had in store for me. 3 C-sections and 3 preemies instead. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtfulness!

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    • Thank you Heidi for stating what I was thinking. Both my girls were C-sections too, in the hospital- the first was an emergency, the second was scheduled due to complications. I was really enjoying this article, and feeling encouraged, until I got to that part. . . then I kind of felt attacked. Same thing with having my children vaccinated. I know some people choose otherwise, and that’s fine. I won’t criticize them and I’d appreciate not being felt like I’m doing something evil to my own children.
      .

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      • Those statements were not intended as judgment AT ALL. I’m not sure why you thought so?

        Here are the actual quotes from the article: “It does not bother me now if someone thinks I am weird for canning food or not vaccinating. I feel confident I’ve made the right choice for my family…” What it means is, I’ve made the right choice for MY family, as I said. It does not say a word about anyone else’s choices.

        “Did you know some Mommies have their babies cut out of their tummies? …. They don’t think of it as a judgment on what we do, and they don’t think of what we do as a judgment on others’ choices.”

        I think it was pretty clear that I wasn’t judging anyone. Can I ask why you read it that way when I specifically stated otherwise? That honestly baffles me….

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        • Kate, I was taken back by the choice of words used for Cesarean section. I could think of many other ways to phrase it without being as blunt. I always imagined that I would deliver my babies naturally. My two Cesarean sections were medically necessary. My children are now 28 and 24 and I am still sensitive about the necessity of the Cesarean sections.

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          • Barbara,

            That’s exactly it. *You* are sensitive about c-sections. No one is judging you for having c-sections. That’s what was right for you. It’s good to be open, honest, and “blunt” with children.

        • I also felt upset when I got to the part about how “some mommies have their babies cut out of them.”

          It was hard to read because you likened getting a c-section to one of any other lifestyle choices, like canning food and not vaccinating.

          I never chose to have my baby cut out of me.

          I didn’t choose it after 9 months of planning for a natural delivery. Or after 58 hours in labor without intervention… But then there was the emergency situation that required a c-section immediately to save my son’s life.

          I would say I consented to an operation to save my child’s life. I wouldn’t say I chose to have my baby cut out of me. That makes me feel physically ill to even type. I wouldn’t group my c-section in with other lifestyle choices that describe my life.

          It also felt upsetting because the language used was so harsh, “babies cut out of them,” and it seemed to come out of nowhere. Yes, those words certainly describes the process to young children in a matter-of-fact way. It’s good to have clarity. But for women recovering from the emotional scars of c-section, it was very abrasive and sudden to read that sentence. I thought I was reading about homeschool and socialization, but then one of the hardest and most traumatic experiences of my life was described in very graphic terms, phrased as a choice, and then tossed aside and moved away from…

          I don’t feel judged, however, or attacked. I think it was completely unintentional and with no bad intent. But I wanted to explain a bit my position because other women were also upset by it, and I wanted to try to show why.

          I’m also currently working towards a VBAC (due in July) so this topic is particularly important to me now.

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          • Yes. I agree. I also totally understood where she was coming from, and I even use that term “cut out” about my own deliveries to demonstrate how very violating and unnatural I feel my two very much unwanted sections were. But I also understand how it can be very painful to hear. I still cringe at the thought of them and mourn the loss of choice I had. It is far from a lifestyle choice, but I do not think she ever intended to imply that, just to show how many people have things done different ways.

  7. I am a working mom and my son attends daycare and will go on to public school. The bullying issue is Huge! I wish that I could stay home with my son for that reason alone. However it is not an option for our family. So we must take a strong stance on bullying and teach our son to stand up for himself AND for others.

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  8. I am a working Mom also and my son attends an in-home daycare. I so wish I didn’t have to work, but it is not an option for our family. I was bullied in high school. It made me a stronger person, but I do look back and wonder why no one stepped up to help me. I have already started talking to my seven year old, about how he has to be the hero and stand up for others. I tell him bits and pieces about what happened to me. Hopefully when he sees someone being picked on, it will remind him of my story and he will step up.

    I tell him over and over when it comes to bullying. 1) If someone calls you a name, think of it as the same thing as if they called you a “car”. You know you aren’t a car, it is ridiculous. Just like it is ridiculous if they call you stupid.

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  9. Consider yourself lucky that you are able to stay home with your children and homeschool them. I am the main income of my family and have to work full time. Luckily I found a good in home daycare and my daughter was accepted into a magnet school that she will start in the fall. I was bullied in middle school and high school and I believe it scared my self confidence for life. It is the reason I am the shy, reserved person I am today. I still to this day have no close friends due to my shyness and fear of getting my feelings hurt by anyone I let get close. The only thing I can do is pray for my child when she does start school in the fall…

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  10. This entry is fantastic!!! I have to be honest, I grew up thinking home schooled children were all weird religious fanatics…..viewing them very negatively. I always felt very defensive about the public school system…..if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for my children. I survived it and so can they! My husband and I actually don’t have children and won’t so it’s luckily not an issue I have to consider. However, as I’ve gotten older and “wiser” ( I hope) I’ve come to realize a few things. One of them is exactly what you are saying. If I did have children, I would not immunize them and I would choose to home school them for all the reasons you discuss. This is so well written and really gets to the point. I agree with all the reasons for home schooling you listed above and home schooling is not about exclusion but really about inclusion and teaching your children the values that are important to your family. Kudos for standing by your convictions and teaching your children to honor and embrace all the wonderful differences around us!

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  11. Hey Kate!
    First off, love this article. Having been homeschooled my whole life (but also involved in camps/Sunday school so more “normal” social environments), I know the truth of this and that kids can be cruel. I think schools can often create an artificial socializing environment – where else in real life will our children ever again be solely with and influenced by their peers (except for a few older adults/supervisors)? Very rare situation and people need to know how to socialize with all age groups. Some of my very dear friends are old enough to be my parents – or older! Or younger! And that is a beautiful thing. I am pregnant with my first and, if the Lord is willing, I hope to home school him.

    I do have one question for you, though. Do you teach your kids to be wary of strangers? It’s a sad fact of life that not every adult they talk to will be friendly and nice and have your children’s best safety in mind. Do you have a way that you handle this? (i.e., do you warn them not to talk to strangers unless you can see mommy? Don’t go into a stranger’s car without permission?) I’m just wondering how you would handle this gently, but without scaring them. The goal obviously isn’t to freak them out, but to ensure that they won’t become victims because they’re too friendly.

    Thanks. 🙂

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    • Hi Sarah! I thought the same thing you did regarding being wary of strangers. I totally agree with all of what Kate said and how she socializes her children. It happens so naturally when you take your kids out in public. I personally am just like Kate with my children. My children LOVE to talk to people and do so frequently. I do, however, encourage caution in certain situations. I let my kids play in my unfenced backyard alone (with me watching through the back windows). They know to come inside quickly to get mama if they see someone they don’t know coming up to them. They know that if they are alone that talking to strangers is not a great idea. Talking to strangers with mommy or daddy standing right there is perfectly safe. I have told them that there are some people who like little kids for the wrong reasons. I don’t make them fearful, just aware. Kids are much more intuitive and understanding than many give them credit for.
      Teaching them awareness is not the same thing as teaching them to be fearful. Even kids can understand the difference and it’s also so important to be a living example of the difference 🙂

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  12. I homeschooled my kids for years. My oldest entered public middle school in January of 2012, and my younger began at a Christian school last September. Knowing that middle school kids can be cruel, I recently asked my older son if there has been any bullying because he was homeschooled. His answer really surprised me – every kid who found out he had been homeschooled told him how lucky he was, and that they wished they had been homeschooled. The ONE person that picked on him about it was the Campus Supervisor. Yes, an ADULT chose to tease him. How sad. He seemed to let it roll off his back. I think if it had been his peers it would have been much harder to deal with.
    I don’t regret the years I homeschooled them one bit, and if I had to do it all over again, I would.

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  13. This was a good piece on homeschooling – so often I read homeschooling blogs where the whole thrust of the blog (and the comments) seems to be “I don’t want my kids to go to regular school because I am afraid it will make them think God doesn’t exist or that homosexuality is acceptable…” and I find that attitude troubling. And I think that ‘socialization’ is generally modeled by parents anyway.

    However, I did reflect on something: I work from home, so in any given week I may only spend time with – or even speak to, other than by email – a very limited group of people (my husband, family members, a friend or two). That’s fine with me, because I’m naturally kind of a hermit type. But then I’ll go out with friends or have a big meeting with clients and I’ll come away all fired up with new ideas or new information – just being in the same room with some new people for a couple of hours sort of stirs up the gray matter.

    I know you often take your children on errands or to ASANA and whatnot, but I do wonder about the homeschooling families who seem to get totally wrapped up in each other and don’t make much of an effort to get out there with new people – I think everyone (not just kids) benefits by interacting with new people who are outside of their regular routine.

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  14. Excellent post. As a mom of 6- 5 boys & a lone girl ages 13 down to the 3 month old baby girl- I’ve been asked a lot why we homeschool. We will be starting our “9th” official year. I can say wholeheartedly your post is spot on. My second child is 12 and is severely dyslexic w/ a huge side of ADD. At 12 he is really starting to notice that he is behind. It is said to see him realizing that, but I couldn’t hide it forever. But at least now he is a strong young man who has found many other areas besides academics where he is excelling. If he were in a regular school his classmates would only see the goof ball kid disrupting class who can’t read aloud when called on. I know b/c I saw it plenty in school. But now his friends see him as a confident young man who makes everything he does w/ scouting look easy. Trust me that is the only side of his life that is easy. But it is what the world gets to see so that gives him more confidence. I wish his life weren’t so hard, but I hope it will make him into a strong and determined young man one day.

    I’m going a different route w/ my 4 year old who is developmentally delayed. We are putting him in a special ed preschool class. I’m very worried about this, but don’t really know where to turn for better help and assistance. He will be the first of my kids to have anything to do w/ public school and you better believe I will be watching very closely along the way.

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  15. I hear you! I have two teens. Both of them attended public school through 8th grade, but their high school paths were very different, as they are different social creatures. My son attends a private religious school and my daughter just graduated from homeschool (distance learning program) high school.

    What’s right for one child, or one family, may not be right for another. So, in my opinion, we all have to do what we feel is right based upon the information we have at the time. My children took very different high school paths, which they chose themselves, and everything has worked out fine.

    So, I agree that individuality is a huge issue here. Every parent has to do what s/he thinks is right for his or her child.

    Having a masters degree in education, I’ve seen the positives and negatives that are going on in education these days. Having my children attend public school through junior high was both a blessing and a curse, depending upon the day or year!

    With all that stated, I have so much respect for those who homeschool right from the beginning, but not every parent or child is cut out for it. Parenting is not an easy job, especially these days, so we should all support each other in any way we can. There is so much we can all learn from each other!

    As for the bullying issue, society in general is loaded with it. There are some very subtle forms of bullying that do not involve physical aggression. So, if children don’t face it in school, they certainly will as adults. Is prolonging your child’s exposure to it a positive or a negative? Again, I think it depends upon the child.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, and for sharing your experience!

    Reply

  16. Such a good article. I am strongly considering homeschooling my 7 and 3 year old. I already have a 18 year old that went through public school and graduated. He did well, but was not prepared for college, dispite his junior and senior teacher’s best attempts. (he tried to breeze through college as easily as high school)
    When I mentioned HS’ing to him, his first comment was about socialization. He had to deal with the bullies, and found that laughing and thanking them for taking time out of their day to think of him, worked best for him…. my 7 year old isn’t as confident and I see her having a good deal more trouble with the issue of bullies.
    Thank you for this article, it does give me something to come back with when I’m asked about their socialization skills if I HS. I think if you find a HS co-op, playgroup that meets once a week or are truly involved in Boy or Girl Scout or your church, that this should be enough.

    Reply

  17. Great post! As homeschooling parents, my Mom and Dad had to field socialization questions often, and now I have to answer them as well… People were often surprised at how “normal” my brothers and I were, and how well/confidently we could interact with adults.

    What’s funny is that people don’t seem to understand how artificial the socialization that occurs in schools really is. Learning from your peers how to behave isn’t really such a great idea! I find the benefit of homeschooling is that children get the opportunity to interact with people of all different ages, and get to learn from example by watching their parents and older friends/siblings, not by mimicking the more “outspoken” of their peers at a school.

    Reply

  18. Non-homeschooling parent who found their way to your post. Can appreciate your views, but just wanted to point out that not all public schools fit this mold.

    Our philosophy has been, we’ll go to public school until we have a reason not too. I have been pleasantly surprised by teachers, students, lack of clique’s, etc. I’m sure we will come across it eventually, but just wanted to say that all of these points do not exist at every public school in the United States.

    In addition, I am the PTA President and find that the best way to make a change is to volunteer. If I don’t like something, I can jump in and start helping, be present at the school during lunch or recess and help to change things I don’t like.

    Reply

  19. I homeschooled my 3 children from 1-12 we gave them each the choice to go to public high school and they wanted nothing to do with it. My daughter is the baby of our family took drivers Ed at the local high school and thanked me later for not pushing to go to the public school. She didn’t have much patience for her peers . She said the were rude disrespect full of the teacher. Just immature she always perfered those younger or older then her self.
    I enjoyed teaching my children it was wonderful to see them learn to read knowing I helped teach them. And when they had areas that they struggled in we could slow down and take our time till they got it. I could taper there lessons alot on things that interested them and it made learning more fun I think. I’m glad I home schooled my family and was able to stay home to do it. I understand if not everyone can do this, but try and be involved as much as possible . 🙂

    Reply

  20. Hi,
    This was an interesting read, but I think you are assuming too much. I don’t think kids who go to public school are necessarily worse off because of what they are exposed to… as long as they have supportive parents who let them be who they are, they should be fine, shouldn’t they? I don’t have kids yet but I am considering homeschooling because my experience of public school was that it is more often “babysitting” than “schooling”, but I think regardless of whether I homeschool I would let my children know to not listen to the judgements of people who consider them outsiders. As a child I knew this well enough myself and was not afraid to express my opinions to those who disagreed.

    Reply

    • Hi Mona,

      I don’t think you can rely on kids to just ignore others because their parents said so — not when they’re steeped in it 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. Some kids may be confident enough to shrug it off, others won’t. My parents encouraged me to be who I was, never judged me or made me feel ‘less’ because I was different; in fact they made me feel special for it. Still it wasn’t enough, for me, to overcome the rejection of my classmates. You just don’t know how a kid will do and most will succumb to peer pressure in some form because it’s human nature to want to ‘fit in’ and please others.

      All that said, this isn’t our primary reason for homeschooling. It’s just the one criticism I hear most often so I wanted to address it.

      Reply

  21. My husband and I are actually at odds with this very issue, trying to decide if we should home school or enroll them in public school. I do not want them to loose out on socializing with kids their own age, and we don’t live in an area where there are a lot of kids their age as it is. Most of our friends have kids that are ten years or older and mine are just three and two. My husband is terrified of enrolling them in school, and getting a phone call that someone brought a gun to school and started shooting. My kids are over the top smart, and no its not a mom’s pride, others see it too. My three year old sees things once, maybe twice and he knows how to work it. My two year old can be told to reorganize things by size, color or shape and he will sit down and do just that. I am worried that I will not be able to give them, the academic challenges they need, or that by keeping them home, they will become shy, and scared by new situation or surroundings. I have tried arguing in favor of public school, because of how smart they are, but he feels that they are better off at home, with us where he can keep them safe. My other concern is time, I work full time, go to school full time and so does dad, though on opposite shifts. For parents that do home school, how do you make sure they are getting a good education? By homeschooling my kids will they be at a disadvantage should they choose to go into the public school system later on? What if they need to be challenged at a level that I am not capable of giving them? I love math and science, but my understanding only goes so far, what if they get to a point that is beyond me? Are there programs out there that can help me, websites, or social media sites that I can go to when things get a little or a lot difficult? I hate that my husband and I can’t see eye to eye on this, but I don’t want my kids to be at a disadvantage over pride, stubbornness, misunderstanding, or misgivings on either side.

    Reply

    • Hi Natasa,

      It sounds like you need to do a lot more reading and a lot more talking with your husband about this issue. Honestly, most studies show that homeschooled kids are at or ahead of their peers, on average. Also, most are more socially adjusted and better at dealing with different situations. It’s a common ‘myth’ that homeschooled kids are behind or anti-social, but there’s really no truth there.

      As far as educational challenges, many people form or join coop groups where parents who have expertise in particular topics teach ‘classes’ to the group so that students who need more than their parents can give, can learn there. Or there are tutors, online programs, or even college courses when they are old enough (14 is old enough for online college). There is just SO much out there to address all your concerns! Search for homeschooling blogs and groups in your area (check http://www.meetup.com) and you’ll find a lot of options.

      Reply

  22. Thank You for this Article. It has changed my views. My son is 3 and I do not want him to be in public schools. We desperately wanted to send him to a Montessori school, But finances just are not going to allow for that. Though I have tossed the idea of homeschooling in my head, it just wasn’t a tangible idea for me. This article flipped a switch. This will be perfect for our family, and, while I am still in school to become a teacher myself, what a perfect circumstance. Thank You

    Reply

  23. We have homeschooled our children for 16 years, and we love it. We love the flexibility, the lack of negative peer pressure, and with so many children, they are not in need of having to go to another school because they are lonely at home. Most people (whose children go to public or private school) we have encountered are for homeschooling, and many wish their circumstances would allow them to do so. I have only encountered 2 moms who were dead set against it. One, who was a teacher herself, said she didn’t think she could stand being at home all the time with her kids ( I thought, “How said!). Another tried homeschooling one year, but they realized the child, who only had one sibling 15 years older than her, needed to be around other kids more. Unfortunately, even though she is a pastor’s daughter, she is growing up to be spoiled and mean, and we found out (many years later) that this pastor’s daughter (and supposed “friend” to one of our daughters) bullied our daughter horribly from the ages of 7-10 (when we left the church for other reasons). Our daughter is 15 now, and is still suffering the effects of that bullying. She has no self esteem, compounded with the regular hormonal feelings that arise just from being a teen. Unfortunately bullying doesn’t just come from non Christian, public schooled kids. It also happens with supposed “Believers” who are private schooled.

    Reply

  24. P.S. I overheard my 7 y.o. son talking to his 10 y.o. sister. He was telling her that when he grows up, he’s going to marry a woman who believes in Yeshua (Jesus) and who wants to homeschool their kids. He also said (as he was chopping up an apple to make his own fruit salad) that he is going to cook things for his kids. My 5 y.o. daughter confronted him on the use of the knife, and he said that she was too little to use it, but that mom (me) trusted him with it, and he hadn’t cut himself this time. She replied, “You are too little also!” Kids!!

    Reply

  25. I absolutely love this post! You share most, if not all of my exact sentiments.

    As for the concern that homeschooled children won’t be socialized, I always laugh over that. If a child is sitting in class and talking to one of their peers, the first thing they are told is to stop talking, and to pay attention.

    They are then told that the classroom is not a place for socializing. Or, if a child is a constant chatterer like I was, you’ll see their report card reflect the teacher’s disdain over it eg; “It would be helpful if your child paid more attention in class and did less socializing.” Another one frequently written on my report cards was, “It would benefit Darlene greatly if she would use her time more wisely, rather than using her time to simply socialize.”

    So where this belief comes from about school being essential in order for children to learn to socialize makes me laugh.

    Reply

  26. Awesome post! I agree with you completely. At school, children learn very quickly that in order to “fit in”, they have to be like everyone else, which includes dressing like everyone else. And anyone that perhaps doesn’t fit the description of “cool”, gets picked on, ostracised and bullied.

    Reply

  27. What an awesome post Kate and I couldn’t agree more! My two greatest regrets in life are having vaxed my kids and turning them over to public school. I knew nothing back then! I now have a 9 month old granddaughter and we are raising her right! I am so excited for her to be homeschooled! Thank you for such a great blog!

    Reply

  28. I really appreciate to read this because i am looking into homeschooling my girls and even though most of our family supports it (not that we really care much because we make our own decisions…) sometimes i get fearful and doubt but then i hear the vision and regain that confidence. I made a mission statement for our family so it can clearly remind me what we stand for. It almost seems that the public school system just trains humans to be employees in this world, like programmed robots and to live a mediocre life where you live to pay bills and have limited freedom.(Im not saying having a job is bad, my husband worked for the state and i worked at supercuts for 2 years before i took a permanent maternity leave :p we all have a different calling) We believe God made us for a greater purpose and that through that we can achieve the impossible because He gives us the desires of our hearts and we can break chains. It had been in my heart to homeschool since my first daughter was born and i feel that a parent (mother or father) who home-schools is an amazing act of love. God has blessed us with this child, and part of our job as a parent is to lead them and guide them and what better way than to take it upon myself to teach them and learn myself and create an amazing experience throughout their childhood and into adulthood. I went to public school also but all i did was survive. If i ditched it was either because we were going to get drunk or something drug related (this was when i was part of the world)… my experience wasn’t bad BUT i can only imagine what it would be like now.
    So my point is, i really appreciate these posts because it encourages me to do what i feel is right for my family also. our family motto is “We are IN the world, but not part OF the world”

    Reply

  29. and the thing about socialization….. our girls (3 1/2 and 1 1/2) have plenty of social time
    1) family (cousins whom we temporary live with) in fact because of this they have learned to fight and bully each other.. (this is a while other topic…) but we have an enourmous family being hispanic/mexican
    2) church friends (sunday school) plus we just joined a team to launch a church so we are meeting a lot more families and integrating them into our church family
    3) ballet class
    4) toddler math class for my 3 yr old
    5) considering girl scouts for the future
    6) our extended family at our office (plenty of children and gatherings)
    7) bible study groups with families
    and im sure im forgetting some other social activities… so my children are pretty social and with technology now adays these children love and pick it up so fast that its almost a part of them to be networking constantly

    Reply

  30. To answer your question—My three kids are all in public school and we have actually had a very good experience so far. I regularly discuss bullying with my kids, as well as the personalities of all of the kids in their class. Neither has experienced, observed or participated in bullying. I initially thought that couldn’t be possible and they weren’t telling me the truth (I was tainted by the pictures painted by the media and bloggers). I realize this is not always the norm, and I totally credit God’s covering over my children along with amazing leadership at the school. We chose this particular school because of the close knit, family atmosphere. We made a conscious effort to know the principal, teachers, janitors and lunch lady. I feel that they have socialized well and my husband and I feel that we still very much control and shape their spiritual and foundation. This choice is working for us. We are prepared to switch if it ever stops working though.

    My two cents on the comment about mothers with c-sections– I do understand how women who have had caesarians could be offended. To phase to a child (who are generally literal little beings) that “some women cut their babies out of their stomachs.” Implies that these women have a choice and that they do it themselves! The same way that the loose statement of “some women go to work everyday” may imply to a child that those mothers must not care as much about their children, or they don’t know that it is better for them to stay home. You say that you are not passing judgements but you are treading the line closely. It is important to teach our kids to understand and appreciate the choices that families make because there is no wrong choice –personal preferences and choices should be applauded. This mommy shaming has to stop! The line of division should be drawn by what is biblical and what is not.

    Reply

  31. I think that Home-schooling is a great thing and if I am blessed with children that is how I will raise them. Public schools are just getting ridiculous with their zero tolerance nonsense regarding kids with toast shaped like a gun and a friend giving another friend a midol so she must be a drug dealer. Children are naturally curious little people and have no idea of what prejudice is unless taught.

    Reply

  32. Our family has done both public and homeschooling.

    I’m enjoying many aspects of homeschooling… the relaxed days, the ability to go deeper in to subjects of interest, and the lack of homework.

    I also miss many things about having the kids in public school. Everyone’s experiences are different, and for us I can report that my kids are exposed to significantly LESS DIVERSITY as homeschoolers. Everyone we meet are generally middle class. There is a little bit of racial diversity but absolutely nothing like public school. In CA public schools are over 50 percent Latino, and that figure mirrors our school district. But in homeschooling, I have yet to meet any mexican-americans.

    Also, at my kids’ former school, there was a significant arab muslim population. And as it turns out, lots of this group also homeschool. I found that out when I took my kids in for some year-end testing through their ind. study charter school and they took their tests alongside girls in hijab. BUT… as homeschoolers, we never, ever see any arab muslim kids at park days or other events. Never. Whereas, at school, having classmates who wear hijab or fast during Ramadan was a normal thing.

    I find homeschooling to be lonely. We go to park days and there is hardly anyone else there. We went to a posted bowling event and no one…. NO ONE… showed up. Yet on the internet everyone says homeschool socializing is easy. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Fortunately, my kids have a few friends from their old school, and neighbors. But I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.

    Reply

  33. I love this post!! As a mom who has made many different choices than you, we share in doing the right thing for our own families and I completely respect your decisions and your statements about doing what is best for your family.
    As a mom having had 2 c-sections, I was not at all offended by your word choices, in fact, when we children asked I explained that most babies were born vaginally, but I needed to have a doctor cut them out of me. That’s a fact. When I had my second child, my 4 year old was fascinated by the staples along my incision line…
    As far as bullies and school experiences, I too, had tormentors that left me with minimal confidence and feelings of self worth. I wish it could have been avoided, but then I wonder who I would be today without it?

    Reply

  34. I am 30 years old and I can say that industrialized schooling was nothing short of traumatic for me. I constantly objected to going there and my parents kept telling me that it was good for my social skills. I have few friends, I’ve NEVER had a girlfriend and I’m starting rehab for alcohol addiction tomorrow.

    I know it sounds cruel and judgmental to say that people who send their kids to school don’t love them, but I find the idea of sending your kids to school irreconcilable with the idea that you love them.

    The kinds of social skills that are learned in school are, in a word, Orwellian. I took a test in grade seven and I got one question “wrong”. The teacher actually told me that while the answer I gave was scientifically correct, it wasn’t the answer I was given in class, so it was wrong.

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  35. If you don’t vaccinate you kids, then I hope you keep them home so they won’t infect others. Anybody who doesn’t vaccinate their kids is not only stupid, they are basically committing child abuse.

    Reply

    • Awww, so cute! Nice, rational, science-based argument. We’re all listening and taking you *super* seriously.

      Go do some real research.

      Reply

  36. I love this post! Anytime someone brings up the socialization issue, my husband and I know immediately that they haven’t looked into homeschooling at all.

    It always reminds me, too, of my cousins. They were both homeschooled until high school. The older boy was more reserved, hanging out mostly with his main group of friend, and the younger boy (who was homeschooled for longer!) was elected SBO president by the students in his school and is still one of the most social people I know. Just goes to show how you’re educated doesn’t necessarily predict how social or outgoing you will be!

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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