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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Socialization by Jeff Fulbright






Are homeschooled kids socially deprived? That's what some people who don't homeschool their children say. Of course these folks don't understand the homeschool process or what socialization really looks like.

Contrary to the conjecture of homeschool critics, I generally find homeschooled children to be remarkably bright, polite, and humble (this might have the appearance of social deprivation in a society that promotes self and lack of discipline). For example, a particular homeschooled child may “appear” shy because he is not being loud and drawing constant attention to himself. At first blush, the world may consider this child socially inept, when in reality, the child’s underlying God-inspired (and parentally instructed) virtues of self-restraint and discipline may be at work. The flawed assumption made by most homeschool critics is that a child needs to be in a “school like” setting as soon as possible so that the child can learn how to interact with others (socialization is often placed above academics). You see, the theory goes, if your four year old child can be around other four year old children all day long, then he will learn how to play, communicate, share, and establish relationships with other four year olds in a way that will help him successfully deal with others as he gets older.

However, ask yourself and ponder the following question: Do I want my children spending the majority of their waking hours with children and teachers I really do not know? My experience is that other children have very little to offer in the way of solid advice on playing, communicating, sharing, or establishing relationships. Did you ever notice that it isn’t necessary to teach your children to lie, steal, covet, disobey, or be selfish? No, those things come naturally and are played out among all the unsupervised children at the local schoolyard. Amazingly, some homeschool critics believe that this very type of schoolyard activity is the social interaction your child needs to prepare him for the world. This theory is quite silly and is not supported by any facts. The Bible certainly does not promote this view, but instead indicates that parents have the responsibility for training the children in the way they should go.

As a side note, homeschool groups have many outings and social get togethers where children can obtain some of these so called highly sought after social skills. Of course, these get togethers are a far cry from the repeated, daily, unsupervised, social engagements your children would experience from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. five days a week. No, three hours of Sunday school, two hours of Awanas, daily interaction with siblings, playing with neighborhood children after school and on weekends, and other outings and weekly extracurriculars are not enough; home school critics say our children need more socialization.

If “socially deprived” means giving my children undivided attention (which they certainly do not get in school) and accurate social information about sex, drugs, character, relationships, and religion (as opposed to learning about these things in a traditional school environment from peers and teachers whom I do not know), then in a sense I guess my children are socially deprived—deprived of repeated and unnecessary exposure to misinformation and distorted values.

Homeschooling allows us to teach the Bible’s time tested wisdom for success in any environment. Often, what the world teaches is selfishness, entitlement, and greed—none of the characteristics sought after by any company I have ever represented as an attorney. My children will know about human suffering in India and other parts of the world. My children will know about good and evil (and know that they have the choice to choose either). My children will know about patience, know what it means to work hard, know how to treat one another as biblically warranted, and know (thanks to the Bible) the attitudes necessary to be successful in any fortune 100 company (that’s for the secular critics). A position always exists for an employee that follows the principles laid out in the Proverbs.

In my opinion, true “social deprivation” is failing to teach your children to know who their Creator is and why they were created. If our children do not have a proper understanding of their place in this world under those parameters, then our children’s mistakes will be quite predictable.

I do not intend this article to be a criticism of every public or private school. Decent schools exist, and not everybody has the privilege or ability to homeschool. God, in his sovereignty, controls. For some, He may provide the privilege of homeschooling; for others, it may not be available. However, critics of homeschooling have no rational basis or statistical evidence to support their baseless claims, which appear to be wrought with faulty reasoning and ridiculous assumptions.

I would like to close with a recent story of compassion exhibited by one of my “socially deprived” children. Because of the exorbitant amount of time that my four children spend together, because they are not shuffled off to school every day, certain precious relationships have been established between the siblings. One situation in particular I want to share: My 7-year-old daughter is a devoted sister to her three younger siblings. She does not mysteriously disappear between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. everyday, so her best friends are her siblings. One evening, she was in trouble for a certain infraction. As I discussed the particular issue with her, tears streamed down her face. My two year old son, Calvin, seeing his loving sister in distress, got up from his chair, came over to her, sat on her lap and kissed her cheek as he wiped away a tear from her face. A smile appeared on my daughter’s face in the midst of the tears. I will never forget that precious moment as long as I live.



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