I've realized that many different things could be referred to under the broad umbrella of "socialization" and each person expressing a concern about it may not be referring to the same thing as another.
So let's begin here: What is socialization? And what do you, personally, think of when you worry about "proper socialization?" Following are some of the things I've already come across. Socialization is the ability to:
1) appropriately read and interpret social cues and emotions in others
2) be influenced positively from the examples people around you (i.e. Brynn sometimes is more willing to try new foods when she sees her peers doing it)
3) behave with good manners in appropriate circumstances
4) hold firm to your values despite peer pressure
5) assert yourself to negotiate for your needs
6) understand and allow for the needs of others
7) know who you are and what you stand for
8) have friends and fun!
I suppose most people are probably referring to numbers 1 & 8 when they talk about "socialization" but each of these include some unique aspects and concerns.
Addressing 1 & 8 first, I found the following quotes from the website of Cato Institute intriguing:
"In 1992 Larry Shyers of the University of Florida wrote a doctoral dissertation in which he challenged the notion that youngsters at home "lag" in social development. In his study, 8- to 10-year-old children were videotaped at play. Their behavior was observed by trained counselors who did not know which children went to regular schools and which were homeschooled.
"The study found no big difference between the two groups of children in self-concept or assertiveness, which was measured by social development tests. But the videotapes showed that youngsters who were taught at home by their parents had consistently fewer behavior problems."
Another mom shares her personal experience:
"Watching Jeff and Tamara, though, it all became clear. Our homeschoolers had more friends because they had more time and energy for friends. That's what friends take -- time and energy. As homeschooled teenagers, they had an abundance of both. No longer were my kids hobbled eight or more hours each day by busy work and educational administrivia. Instead, they worked on academics, generally completing them in the morning; both had had much more time to make and be a friend, to socialize.
"Not only did Jeff and Tamara have more friends, they had more diverse friends. They were no longer restricted to kids in a one to two year age range, living in our zip code. Instead, they had younger, older, even adult friends -- all from the larger community.
"We discovered that Jeff and Tamara were most likely to meet others and develop close friendships like adults do -- via neighbors, relatives, and existing friends -- and while exploring their interests.
"During their high school years, both of our homeschooled teenagers had the opportunity to participate in all of the usual high school activities. Their friends (most of whom attended school) invited them to football and basketball games, school dances, and musical productions. One fall, Tamara attended homecoming dances at three different high schools (getting a lot of wear out of the single formal dress she made for all three events). Both kids were invited to proms and had the opportunity to participate in a formal graduation. One statewide support group offered one such ceremony, as did our local school.
"So when people ask about socialization and homeschooling, I have to honestly reply that our principal problem was keeping a lid on it. The phone rang constantly. After less than a year of homeschooling, I could never put socialization on a list of homeschooling problems or challenges."
Yet another mom sites interesting notes on real-world social life:
"Home-educated children relate well to adults and to younger children, as well as to people their own age. Contrast this with the findings of researchers like Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner, professor of child development and family studies at Cornell University, and Dr. Albert Bandura of Stanford University, who feel that most children today are not at ease in the real world of age-integration. The standards of the minisociety of the classroom become more important than the lessons learned at home."
Although I won't detail it out here, I found this study of the adult lives of home schooled children quite intriguing.
As for concern #2, although Brynn has been influenced positively from peers, she has also been influenced negatively; so this overall is a neutral argument.
Concerns 3-7, I hope will be answered below:
UHEA published the following findings:
"Children who have been educated at home will have higher self-esteem than those who are educated in more conventional ways. "In a national sampling of parent-educated children, J.W. Taylor found that (1) 77.7% of these home schooled children rank in the top quartile on the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, with more than half of all home schoolers placing in the top 10 %, (2) the longer they are taught at home, the higher their self-concept and (3) self concept is unrelated to the parents' educational levels." (John Wesley Taylor V, Self Concept in Home Schooling Children, Doctoral Dissertation, Andrews University, Michigan, May 1986)
"Recent research reported in the publication The Home School Researcher reported the following: Overall Self Esteem: Home Schooled Students 59%, Conventional Schooled Students, 44%. Personal Security: Home Schooled Students 46%, Conventional 32%. Peer Popularity: Home Schooled Students 23%, Conventional 32%. Academic Competence: Home Schooled Students 59%, Conventional 32%. Familial Acceptance: Home Schooled Students 41%, Conventional 24%. (Vol. 7, no. 3, 1991, p.-7-13.)
"In three categories, Personal Security, Academic Competence and Familial Acceptance, the home schooled group had higher percentages of children that scored above average as compared to the conventionally schooled children. The conventionally schooled children had 9% more children score higher on the Peer Popularity scale than home schoolers. Academic Competence proved to be significant. This is consistent with the belief that people gain self-esteem from doing their work well. If we see school or learning as the job of children, it would be expected that it will greatly effect their self-esteem. If a child's perception is that he or she is doing well in his or her school work, they would naturally be more confident.
The Peer Popularity showed an inverse relationship between self-esteem and peer popularity. This indicates that with a rise in peer popularity there is a negative effect on overall self-esteem. It is only a moderate correlation, but certainly one that can't be ignored."
In Reed Benson's dissertation on Home schooling, he quotes from Harold McCurdy, professor of psychology, who compiled a list of Geniuses and analyzed their childhoods. His conclusions were that genius most often occurs with:
"(1) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in the intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love; (2) isolation from other children, especially outside family; and (3) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as a reaction to the preceding conditions. It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors to a minimum"
Benson also quotes from a letter to the Superintendent of schools by Shawn and David Kendrick:
"The idea of grouping large numbers of children the same age with one adult figure in the room for 6 hours a day, nine months a year, is certainly not based on any natural or traditional way of learning or living. Schooling as we know it today is a social experiment founded not on proven psychological, sociological, or scientific grounds, but rather on politics and economic need."
So, just because it is now the "norm," is there any evidence that the public schools offers socialization that is superior?
After all my research, I would readily contend that (a) friendships, while I agree they are very important for development, are more often built and maintained on common interests than on simply being in the same school building all day, and home schooled children are not deprived of good friends; (b) the social adjustment, even for those in public schools, is usually more dependent on the parents than on the the school (for example, every school has its "nerds" and "awkward kids" so I imagine a similar proportion of home schoolers would exist but not because they've been home schooled); and (c) the potential good that parents can do for being their child's primary social influence--especially in the early years--far outweighs the potential good the peers of the same age can have on the same child.
2011Res: To Matt: I love how well you prepared yourself to be a great provider (and that the Lord has blessed you with such good work during a tight economy). To my girls: Brynn, today I savored the funny expression you made when you showed me your "happy face." Dear Mr H: today I made you a hot breakfast AND lunch even though I didn't feel like it.