Are you completely freaked out that homeschooling might make your kid weird?
This fear is a variation of the ever popular – “How will they be socialized?” and “How do homeschoolers make friends?”
Many homeschool moms tend to roll their eyes and scoff at these questions, but I actually think there is something to discuss here.
No parent wants their kids to grow up feeling like they don’t belong.
Like they don’t fit in.
And maybe not even be aware of it either.
I know you weren’t expecting that, so let me explain.
Yes, there is a chance that people may think your homeschooler is weird. I have personally met some weird homeschoolers.
I’ve also met a lot of weird public schoolers. And private school kids. I’d be willing to bet that there are some charter schools kids that are a little off too.
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Think back to the lunch room at whatever school you went to growing up. You can probably remember at least one kid that was just awkward, weird, or didn’t fit in.
What does this all mean?
It means that no matter how shy, outgoing, confident, awkward, or weird your kids turn out to be, it has nothing to do with how you chose to educate them.
Those types of things are built into our personalities and are just part of who we are as individual people.
Alright, I can point to a number of areas to give you examples of this.
My 2 best friends in college were homeschooled, and I was shocked when I first found out. They are both so extroverted, outgoing, confident, and beautiful. They shattered any stereotypes I may have had of homeschooling.
My aunt homeschooled her 6 kids, back when most people didn’t even know if homeschooling was legal. They are all grown now, but I remember playing with them at family reunions among a sea of my other cousins. They all fit in just fine, and I never thought of them as different from the rest of us kids.
I have met a lot of homeschooled kids while being involved in co-ops and other activities. I personally find the kids to be well behaved and “good” kids across the board, but I otherwise don’t see any difference in them socially from the public school kids we see at our local park.
At our scouting meeting there are public school and co-op kids mixed together. If I didn’t already know the parents of the kids, I don’t know if I’d be able to pick out the homeschoolers.
There is a kid I had pegged as homeschooled because she was so quiet, difficult to engage, and nearly refused to speak. Turns out she is in private school, but just painfully shy. That is her personality and that’s okay!
My oldest daughter used to be painfully shy. Since we started homeschooling (and she’s gotten a few years older), she has become remarkably more confident, independent, and social.
My middle daughter is what most people would call “quirky.” She is just different than some kids her age. She always seems to be lost in a world of imagination and loves to create and pretend. Not all kids seem to “get” her.
Despite being in the same environment, my kids have 2 very different personalities and relate to people differently. Their social differences are clearly personality driven and not a result of being taught at home.
When I was still curious about homeschooling, I noticed a boy in our church that looked like the classic homeschooled kid. He wore pants an inch above his ankles and always had on a tucked in, collared shirt. He looked smart, well behaved, shy, and seemed to be very close with his parents (considering his age).
I was sure he was a homeschooled kid. He fit so many stereotypes!
I wanted more information about homeschooling, so I approached these complete strangers at a church event and asked his parents if they homeschooled.
If you could have seen their faces. You would have thought I had slapped them. Apparently they had some thoughts about homeschoolers too and I had offended them. I quickly back pedaled and got out of there!
Apparently, homeschoolers are not as easy to spot as I thought!
I was public schooled for 13 years – kindergarten through 12th grade.
Despite those many yeas of “socialization,” I do not consider myself to be the picture of social grace. See above point about approaching strangers with weird questions for evidence of this.
In fact, I have I have talked to plenty of women (and I’m sure you have too) who admit to feeling a little socially anxious, awkward, or unsure of themselves at times.
Nobody ever says “Oh, were you homeschooled?” to try and figure out the source of those feelings or behavior.
I know anectodtal stories are not a warm enough blanket for some people to put this issue to rest.
Luckily, there are studies that have been done on homeschool kids and their social skills.
Stetson University did a remarkable study on homeschoolers and noted these not so shocking results:
“Compared to children attending conventional schools, however, research suggest that they have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults. They are happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives. Their moral reasoning is at least as advanced as that of other children, and they may be more likely to act unselfishly. As adolescents, they have a strong sense of social responsibility and exhibit less emotional turmoil and problem behaviors than their peers. Those who go on to college are socially involved and open to new experiences. Adults who were homeschooled as children are civically engaged and functioning competently in every way measured so far. An alarmist view of homeschooling, therefore, is not supported by empirical research.”
The article goes on to say that further research into the outcome of homeschool socialization is not even necessary.
That’s pretty amazing.
I also bet you can think of 10 weird public schoolers you’ve met.
Should all the public school parents start wringing their hands?
Kids turn out all different ways because of the way their personality was designed – not because of how they were educated. Any visit to a lunch room…or a busy Walmart, would prove this to you in seconds.
The only you can do as a parent is maintain a close relationship with your kid and strive for open communication.
Find out what your kid is interested in and do what you can to encourage them to pursue it no matter how cool their peers may think it is.
Provide ample opportunities for your kids to make solid friends and spend time with their peers.
And they still might be weird. And they may not be.
And that’s okay.