The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling Paperback – Jun 8 2007
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Gathercole, who has spent 10 years homeschooling her three children, says what most people wonder about is whether homeschooled children can work and play with others, in other words, their socialization skills. She begins by noting that "once upon a time, all children were homeschooled" before more formal schooling and the development of "school culture." She notes that conventional schools offer "socialization" through peer pressure, the stress of choosing between popularity and academic performance, and excessive attention to appearance. Drawing on her own experiences as a homeschooler, she details the networks of other homeschoolers who provide opportunities for their childrenand themselvesto socialize. Gathercole also points to research showing that homeschooled children have stronger self-concepts than children attending conventional schools. Focusing on how homeschoolers address misperceptions, she explores concepts of socialization, the importance of friendships with other children, strong relationships with parents, and how homeschoolers eventually integrate into the "real world." Great encouragement for parents who are homeschooling and those who are considering it. Bush, Vanessa
About the Author
Rachel Gathercole has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina. She is a free-lance writer who has written for many homeschooling and parenting publications. She is also a co-leader in the Home Education Association of North Carolina, and an instructor for independent writing courses for homeschoolers. She has homeschooled her own three children.
Top Customer Reviews
The author was careful to speak from a stance where she was giving the benefits of home schooled children, but never saying they were "better" socialized or smarter than their public school counterparts.
Highly recommended to any one considering homeschooling, knows someone who is or is just curious.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First of all, even die-hard supporters of public school education can't deny the negative socialization ever present in schools these days. As a Social Worker, I worked in elementary schools before I had kids. I decided to homeschool my future children at that point based on what I witnessed. I specifically recall listening to the conversation of 2nd graders in line for lunch, discussing what their favorite part of the movie Scream was. Um, no thanks for my 7 year old child feeling like the odd man out and like I'm somehow overprotective, mean, etc. for being one of the few parents who won't allow horror movies...you know, at SEVEN! Also, I witnessed children who were made to be silent as stones the whole way to, through, and from lunch. Not a word. When they were finished eating, they lay their heads on the table and if they were good little boys and girls, they were rewarded with a single M&M or Skittle. Of course, they could lose this reward for uttering even a word after it was granted. Shocking, I know, but I am not making this up. I witnessed it with my very own eyes--another experience I wouldn't describe as teaching proper socialization skills. These are just a couple of specific examples but there are many, many more. I could go on ad nauseam, but you get the point and, if you've had kids in school, you've heard many more examples. I've met so many teachers who choose to teach their kids at home, or would if they thought they could afford the loss of income. That says so much to me. The point is that people who oppose homeschooling on the basis of socialization need to understand that the grass is NOT greener on the other side. It's just different grass altogether--the normal grass, if you will.
So, that's what it's all about. It's not about fears that kids won't be properly socialized. It's about them not being normally socialized. In this book, the author quotes many parents (one of my favorite aspects of the book) discussing the differences between the normal socialization of children and their adaptations in public schools versus the freedom of socialization in homeschooling. There is a lovely discussion about the different perceptions the two groups of children have of the term "cool." I think you can guess the gist of the difference just based on what you know of peer pressure in schools and freakishly expensive designer clothes and gadgets.
Whenever there is a discussion of socialization of homeschoolers, someone invariably points out the homeschooler they know who has zero social skills and seems completely dysfunctional when trying to interact in a social setting. Yep, that happens, but also in public school. The valedictorian of my class was a girl who said about 3 words her entire time in high school. She was ridiculed too. Perhaps she would have had some solace if she had been able to learn at home. The fact is that shy is shy wherever a child learns. She was socialized normally (public school K-12) and still came out practically completely socially dysfunctional. So, really, I'm not interested in hearing that as a criticism of homeschooling. Yes, there are homeschoolers who are not properly socialized. Just recently, someone posted on a homeschool board I read that her 11 year old daughter had never had a birthday party and did anyone have a child that age who might be able to attend. Frankly, it broke my heart to think about a girl so friendless that her mother had to see if strangers could attend her birthday party. Furthermore, it is a fear of mine that I'm using to ensure that I'm proactive about pursuing opportunities (park days, library story time, homeschooling co-ops, etc.) for my kids to create and maintain friendships.
I am the mother of three young children. I have intended to homeschool since before their birth, as stated. Despite that fact, the one thing that has made me a bit queasy is to worry about where they will make friends. Whether in school or homeschooled, kids need friends. I'm grateful my kids will have each other as "classmates" and, to be sure, my kids are each others' best friends--and I strongly believe that homeschooling will help keep their sibling bond strong. Still, I think kids need friends.
Even as a prospective homeschooler, when you ask current homeschoolers about socialization you get one of two reactions, laughter or defensiveness. Then, with either, you end up getting an explanation of the many opportunities for socialization in the homeschooling community. The bottom line is that unless you have a neighborhood booming with kiddo friendships and activity, it's the parents' job to connect their kids to other kids. In the book, the author points out the many and varied ways this can happen. The most common are church and homeschool support groups, secular or religious.
I do think this is a great resource. Whether you're contemplating homeschooling but are holding back because of socialization or whether you are committed but have family and friends who are doubtful, this book can shed some light on the truths of the homeschooled child's social life.
Home education is an incredible opportunity for children to learn at their own pace and in their own way. It is well known that homeschooled kids are often winners and finalists in national level competitions, such as the geo bee and spelling bee. Individualized education is quite simply a better fit for many children, and gifted children especially, who may be several different "sizes" at once. Would anyone care to argue that a tailor made suit would not fit better than one purchased off the rack? Sure, there are good schools out there, just as there are some people (both parents and children) who simply would not do well as homeschoolers. But for the great majority, homeschooling can be whatever it needs to be to fit the individual child. I believe that it is well documented that kids can benefit academically from homeschooling. The question then, is how do these home educated kids do with peers, and will they be able to interact well with people as adults?
Ms. Gathercole answers this and puts to rest the image of the awkward and isolated homeschooler. She explains in detail how homeschooling socialization is not merely an adequate replacement for the social lessons of institutional schooling. It may be surprising to many, but homeschooling is often a superior lifestyle for learning positive social interaction. Homeschooling actually allows kids to have more time with friends, less time with bullies and those who don't play nicely with others, and the chance to really get to know people of all ages and from all walks of life. Homeschooled kids are more apt to follow their own hearts and consciences, and less likely to be swayed by negative peer pressure.
Here's an excerpt from page 168, "A great deal of evidence supports the claim that homeschoolers end up very well prepared for the 'real world'. One study of adults who had been homeschooled as children found that none were unemployed, none were on welfare, and the vast majority believed homeschooling had helped them to become independent individuals and to interact with people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds." Gathercole interviewed homeschooled kids and parents from all over the country and included many of their comments as well. One college student and former homeschooler shares her opinion on the "real world" question, " It was a really comfortable situation and that led to me being really comfortable with who I am and my choices. And I don't see that necessarily in most other people my age. I think that a lot of that has to do with how our public school system takes personal choice out of most of it. You do things because you have to do them..."
I can vouch for the positive aspects of homeschool socialization with two examples from my own family. One of my sons is an extreme introvert. He had few friends in his years of school attendance, despite all of the extracurricular activities he tried. He simply didn't find it easy to expend the energy to socialize, when it took so much from him just to sit hour after hour in a crowded classroom. When he came home to learn, he appeared to blossom. From a comfortable home base, he was able to venture forth and make social connections that ran deeper and lasted longer than any he'd made in school. My second son and social butterfly was a different kind of kid. My husband and I worried that we wouldn't be able to meet his high need for social contact. That fear was short lived though, as we soon found that he let us know when he needed a play date. Too much time away from others and he'd get cranky. He's eleven now, and gets more phone calls than any other family member.
This book is organized into chapters that each tackle a specific question or concern.
1.The Socialization Question
2.What Do Homeschoolers Do?
3.What Is Good Socialization, Anyway?
4.Friends and Peer Contact
5.Independence and Strong Family Relationships
6.Safety, Adversity, and Bullying
7.Freedom and Time to Be a Kid
9.Relationships with Other Adults
10.Diversity and Minority Socialization
11.Preparation for the "Real World"
12.Citizenship and Democracy
13.Teenagers, Identity, and Sense of Self
14.The Homeschooling Parent's Social Life
15.Socialization and Success
Appendix A covers practical matters such as recommended resources and tips. It also has a list of state homeschool organizations and other helpful web sites. Appendix B has an impressive list of famous homeschoolers, including such diverse talents as Frankie Muniz and Yehudi Menuhin, Fred Terman and Sandra Day O'Connor.
What more can I say about this book? If it doesn't ease your fears about the "s" word, I don't know what will. Rachel Gathercole has done an amazing job pulling together studies, real life stories, and heartfelt advice and inspiration that make a most convincing argument for homeschooling.
I was VERY excited about homeschooling our children after reading a few books. But this one put me WELL over the top!!! It just talks about homeschooling kids not only being well-adjusted and out-going, but being MORE so than their public school peers.
It breaks apart the myths and ill feelings about people who are thinking about home schooling. We're NOT freaks and we are doing it the way it's ALWAYS been done BEFORE the mega corporations needed cogs to fill holes with in order to get product out so that people can buy and consume and buy more and need to go to work to do their cog working in order to pay for consuming!
This is the kind of book that I wish there were more and more of so that I could finish this one and KNOW there is another one JUST as good waiting for me to read... and hey, who knows... maybe there is!!!!
The last chapter is GREAT! It sums the whole thing up and you can take it around and have people read it to calm them down when you tell them your "crazy" idea.
I think this book would be very helpful, as well, to people who are considering homeschooling or for those who have recently made the choice to homeschool. Fears are laid to rest and confidence is gained by reading this wonderful book.