Sunday, June 24, 2007

raising social misfits?

This article out of Canada seems to suggest that all public school children are well behaved, exceptionally intelligent social butterflies in comparison to homeschoolers.

It seems to me that one of the main reasons parents pull their children out of public schools is because they want their children to have a superior education with more opportunities to think outside the box and to interact with people of all ages. Homeschoolers also have more than the average number of children so they are not sitting alone with a grownup day-in and day-out. With 4 siblings to talk and play with, I bet my kids have more interaction with peers than the average. Even so, when I informed my family that we were going to homeschool, my little brother looked at me horrified before blurting out, "I knew some kid in college who was homeschooled and he was weird!" I replied, "I know hundreds of people who are weird and they all went went to public school."

There was a study a few years back comparing volunteerism and voting of young adults. Those who had been homeschooled were far more likely to be involved in their communities than their public schooled peers. According to this author it is not possible to be social in everyday interactions, but isn't that how adults make friends: in church, clubs, sports, and by visiting with neighbors?

The reason we started homeschooling was partly from seeing the strong social skills of some friend's daughters who were taught at home. One is now in college and doing extremely well and the other is preparing to join her sister in higher education. I think if this biased journalist met these young ladies she would completely change her mind that homeschooling is equivalent to raising social pariahs.

There are many pros and cons to home-schooling, but when they are weighed, there appear to be more drawbacks to being home-schooled than being in a traditional academic setting. A significant example is the amount of time - not to mention money - it takes to prepare and teach daily lessons and organize activities. Parents who chose to home-school would have little time to themselves and would have to pay for most of the resources needed to educate their children. It is unlikely many parents can match the resources offered by a government-funded school system.

But perhaps the greatest disadvantage is the difficulty in developing social skills. Social skills cannot be learned merely through everyday interactions, such as trips to the mall, church, sports and clubs or visiting with neighbours. It is imperative kids learn how to have relationships with their peers - and that can rarely be accomplished in a home-schooling environment.

Kids need more than book smarts, they also need to learn about real life - with its perils and pitfalls - and develop the skills they need to cope with it. And those skills cannot be learned merely by enrolling children in sports, church or community groups. It is that lack of exposure to the real world that poses a danger for home-schooled children, particularly those who are taught by their parents right through their teen years.


scmom said...

Yes, being bullied by children whose parents have no brains in their heads, is a valuable social experience!

I was just telling a friend this week, that unless my child could have beneficial friendships (not just friendships, but friendships that will help my child grow in positive ways) I have no use for institutional school. The positive MUST greatly outweigh the negative or, in my opinion, it's just not worth it.

Milehimama said...

I love the irony - kids need to learn about REAL LIFE so we will remove them from everyday life into a closed system and artificial construct of peers chosen based on age (not interests, ability, etc.)
Real life, indeed.