Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Posted in: Home schooling


Teens: Home schooling aids, rather than inhibits, socialization

Home-schooled students like me are occasionally subject to one awkward question: Do you ever socialize?

There’s a misconception about home-schooled students: They can’t socialize normally because they’re cooped up in their houses every day.

This is only true if you assume home schooling is exactly what it sounds like: studying at home, only at home and never interacting with others in the “outside world.” This is a false assumption. Not only does home schooling include activities outside of the home, it also allows — and even encourages — students to socialize with people of different ages, backgrounds and perspectives.

Having been home-schooled for my entire school career, I’ve seen how active home-schoolers are outside of their homes. Many families who home-school are part of local home-schooling co-op groups that hold their own field trips, performance nights, graduation ceremonies, etc. They also might join with other home-schoolers and form classes of their own by hiring educators or parents with expertise in that field to teach a specific class. In past years, I’ve taken Latin and rhetoric classes in this way.

Whether it’s sports, dance, music or art, extracurricular studies are another avenue for home-schoolers to interact with others. Since last year, my siblings and I have been leading a student chapter of the Contra Costa Performing Arts Society, a regional music organization, and we’ve held concerts and been on field trips with music students from all over the Bay Area. Many home-schoolers compete in speech and debate clubs, participating in multiple tournaments each year all over the state. Other home-schooled friends of mine are politically involved by making calls and canvassing for presidential campaigns. In addition, home-schoolers play on organized sports teams through park programs and sports clubs. In these activities, we often interact with public and private school students as well.

Home-schoolers also tend to socialize with a variety of different people. In a traditional school, students interact primarily with others in their same grade. With home schooling, grade boundaries are less rigid; all of my classes with other home-schoolers have included students of higher and lower grades than mine. As a result, I’m good friends with many students outside of my own grade.

Often, home-schoolers take classes at a local community college when they reach high school. In my freshman and sophomore years, I took three semesters of Mandarin Chinese at Diablo Valley College. In those classes, my peers all were college students and adults, except for my older brother, who is a year older than I am. Even with the age difference, I had no problem working with my classmates because I already had been interacting with other teens and adults with my home-schooling group and at my outside activities.

With the explosion of social media and the Internet, online classes have become more available for home-schoolers. I have taken online AP classes, and one of the biggest advantages of these online classes is having classmates from around the globe. Besides having fellow students from across the country, I’ve become friends with classmates from Singapore, Mexico and Kuwait. Currently, my AP English Literature teacher lives in Israel. In literature discussions, we share our different perspectives from living in different places and cultures.

Home schooling doesn’t inhibit socialization. Instead, it encourages students to seek company outside of their social circles. Today, the anti-social´╗┐ home-schooled kid stereotype is a myth — not a fact.

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