The development of social skills is an issue of concern for many parents who decide to give their children home education – it’s also one of the most prevalent criticisms of home education by those who are opposed to it. Some argue that a home schooling environment shelters children from the ‘real world’ and limits the number of people, including other children of their own age, who they will meet, thus damaging their personal growth and development, as well as their awareness of social rules, conventions and relationships. This article looks at ways to avoid these professed pitfalls of a home education, as well as discussing alternative ways to boost home educated children’s ‘socialisation’, their relationships and communication with other people.
Home Schooling, Mainstream Schooling, and Socialisation
Proponents of mainstream, school education claim that socialisation is a key advantage that the school holds over home schooling education. It is true that within the school environment, children have lots of opportunities to interact with their peers, as well as other adults, including teachers, staff members, and teaching assistants. These interactions may help children to learn how to behave and interact when meeting new people.
However, there are also disadvantages: shy children may not find their voice; children may interact with difficulty in large groups, and have difficulties learning or even develop behavioural problems due to issues like peer pressure. Home schooling avoids these problems, but it is important for children to be offered opportunities where they can mix with other kids their age.
Home schooling support groups can offer one solution to this problem, where groups of home schooling parents and their children meet up to share teaching and learning, talk through difficulties, share resources, or take a trip to an attraction like a museum or park. This way, you will avoid the isolation issues of home schooling while simultaneously discussing ideas like socialisation.
Other Ways to Encourage Socialisation
As well as making friends with other home schooling families through support groups, encourage your child to join clubs, after-school sports, youth groups, music classes or similar organisations. By doing so, your child will be able to enjoy one of their extra-curricular interests, be that art, sport, music, animals, or another hobby, while at the same time meeting friends who share those interests. Socialisation will occur in a more natural way. Your child will also be able to discuss their home schooling with mainstream educated children, who may learn from each other about their different education systems.
Encourage older home schooled children to volunteer their services, or offer your own time for some community service with your younger child, to others in your local community. This might involve a visit to a local nursing home, hospital, hospice, religious organisation or shelter, and it will help your child to learn about charity as well as meeting people of all different ages, backgrounds and life circumstances, as socialisation skills involve more than meeting and befriending peers of the same age and background.