Home Schoolers and Socialization, an oxymoron you say? Au contraire. The myths and stereotypes surrounding home schoolers and their social skills are staggering.
For those of you who know me personally, let me pose a simple question to you. Have you ever considered me socially awkward? Ever thought "gee, Laurie needs to work on her interpersonal communication" or "Laurie's group behavior is seriously strange"? Of course not! As the great Toddatello once said, "Laurie, you are not just cool, you are supercool." I'm not saying this to toot my own horn, but to demonstrate that being home schooled does not equate to being a social outcast who can't function in normal behavioral situations.
Here's the deal. There are all kinds of people in the world. Some have great social skills, some manage to get by and some are considered socially awkward or socially dysfunctional. The same is true whether you're educated at public school or at home. Sure there are those home school kids who can't carry a conversation. But there's a heck of a lot of people who went to public school that can't successfully put five words together. Now some people will say that home schooling doesn't provide sufficient socialization opportunities. I say that's bogus! The reality is schools offer a false social setting. There are no other places or situations in which a person is placed in a room with 30 other people the exact same age as them for eight hours per day. That's not a "normal" social situation. Normal social settings involve people of all ages and backgrounds interacting at various levels and depths. Schools foster a pack mentality. Peer pressure is perpetuated when your entire social circle consists of a couple hundred 14-year-olds who watch what you do, say and wear every day of your life.
As a home schooler, I had to learn how to behave socially with all kinds of people. There were toddlers and youngsters running around, older teens, parents, grandparents, wealthy families, poor families, single-parent households, children raised by grandparents, single adults without families etc... I literally remember interacting with all of those people through my church, home school group, relatives and hobbies. When I was in middle school it was just as easy for me to play with a six-year-old as it was to carry on an intelligent conversation with a retiree. Although I certainly preferred hanging out with my friends who were my own age, as any child does.
The next (and final) home schooling post will answer Arshunda's question on whether I feel/felt like I missed out on anything. If there are other topics I should address let me know.