The issue of a child’s social skills is a major concern for parents who are considering a home education for their child. Some criticisms of a home schooling environment include the idea that it prevents children from developing social awareness of how to act in particular situations, or what to do when meeting a new group of people. This is known as ‘socialisation’, the idea behind the introduction of a new member of society to the conventions and norms of society – think of a newborn animal being introduced into the pecking order and societal conventions of the pack! This article looks at how home schooling parents can introduce their children to social rules and the nature of social relationships within the home schooling education.
Schooling and Socialisation
Within mainstream school education, children spend several hours a day with children of their own age, doing many different activities and also interacting with other adults, such as teachers. The establishment of such relationships help children to understand how to behave when they meet new people and new situations. However, critics of mainstream school say that children are artificially grouped by age rather than interests, are within the same room or building for several hours every day, and only meet a few adults, the teachers that surround them. Other quoted disadvantages of schooling in terms of socialisation include the difficulties for shy children within large groups of people, the development of behavioural problems and issues like bullying and peer pressure.
Home Schooling and Socialisation
Home schooling involves individual attention for the child and thus will usually eliminate problems like bullying and peer pressure, but it is extra important for home schooled children to have other opportunities, such as sports clubs or learning clubs, where they can mix with other children, of their own age, older, and young, plus other adults.
Activities that May Encourage Socialisation for Home Schooled Children
One useful option is to join a home schooling support group, which provides opportunities for children to meet up, realise they are not ‘alone’ in the home schooling world, discuss problems, solutions, make friends, share resources, and join together for visits to events like exhibitions, museums or local attractions. Support groups also allow parents the chance to talk through their concerns with other like minded parents in the same position.
Community service for example, in a hospital or nursing home, will help your child to integrate with his or her local community and meet new people of completely different backgrounds and ages.
Another important aspect of education for a home schooled child can be gained by joining in with extra-curricular activities. These will usually occur out of school time, and may be advertised in local sports halls, art centres or libraries. It might include a sports club, music class, youth group, hobby club or organised trip for kids. Joining one of these groups will help children to meet other kids who share their extra-curricular interests.