Homeschooling and Socialization

Homeschooling and Socialization

Everyone remembers the good times they had in school, and while the setting may be different for each party or hangout time, the one thing that remains constant is that everyone involved is surrounded by friends. But what about homeschooled children? If they mainly interact only with their families, where do they make friends? Most people might say that homeschooled children do not get the socialization they need in response to that question. However, research has shown that this is not the case. Homeschooled children have no issue with socializing and making friends; in fact, research has shown that homeschooled children tend to be happier than those who went to public school.

Every parent wants nothing more than to provide the best for his or her children. This undoubtedly includes education. Therefore, deciding how to educate his or her child is one of the most important decisions a parent needs to make. A proper education is one of the things employers look for. While this is the case, having a 4.0 GPA means nothing if that student has no social skills and cannot work with others in a team position, whether it be as a leader or follower.

One of the questions most frequently asked is whether or not parents can provide a proper education for their children if they chose to homeschool. In the article titled “A Warning on Homeschooling,” written by Liz Mineo for The Harvard Gazette and published on May 15, 2020, Mineo interviewed Elizabeth Bartholet, a nationally-renowned expert in child welfare. Bartholet argues against homeschooling by mentioning “the lack of regulation in the homeschooling system” (Mineo). In the interview, Bartholet mentions that in other countries that allow children to be homeschooled, homeschooling is regulated “much more strictly” (Bartholet). This leaves the U.S. as the “odd man out.” Other countries require parents to show that they are “qualified to teach and that they turn in the curricula they plan to use” (Bartholet). They also require home visits. The U.S., again, has none of these requirements. Bartholet uses this as a gateway to mention that without these regulations, parents can do whatever they please with their children. Parents could mistreat and abuse their children and neglect their education altogether.

Bartholet argues that there is evidence showing a “strong connection between homeschooling and maltreatment” (Bartholet), which she also talks about in her article “Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection” in the Arizona Law Review. Bartholet believes that parents who choose to homeschool their children should be required to go through the same training as public teachers do. However, when the pandemic hit, Bartholet was in full support of schools closing and children continuing their schooling primarily being taught by their parents saying, “I believe that the overwhelming majority of parents are capable of providing at least a minimal education at home without presenting any danger of abuse or neglect” (Bartholet).

Bartholet says that if it were up to her, she would not ban homeschooling, but she would change the “homeschooling regime” (Bartholet). When Mineo asked Bartholet’s response to homeschooling supporters who point to homeschooled children who are now successful such as Grammy-winner Billie Eilish, she responded by saying that there is no evidence stating “that, on average, homeschooled students are doing well” (Bartholet). While there may indeed be cases in which parents abuse the power given them and neglect to give their children the proper education they deserve, there is in fact evidence most that homeschooled children had a positive experience being educated at home.

While homeschooled children do not have the experience of being one of hundreds of other students in the same school, they can still socialize and gain friends from getting involved in sports and volunteering for various organizations. Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., who is a “former classroom teacher in public and private schools and professor at the graduate and undergraduate levels, teaching courses such as research methods and science education” (Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)) is now president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). He is known internationally for his research and service in courts and legislatures, and he conducted a study in 2003 in which he along with the HSLDA surveyed 7,300 adults who had been homeschooled, 5,000 of whom had been homeschooled for at least seven years. Dr. Ray presents the information gathered during this research survey in his article titled “Homeschooling Grows Up” published by the NHERI in 2003.

In his article, Dr. Ray uses tables, charts, and graphs to visually present the statistical results of the survey. The first thing Dr. Ray shows is that the homeschool graduates who took part in the survey were found to be “engaged in a wide variety of occupations” (Ray). A few of these occupations were farmer, manager, owner small business/restaurant, full-time student, professional I (e.g., accountant, artist, RN), or professional 2 (e.g., minister, doctor, college teacher). The second table Dr. Ray shows contains percentages comparing different activities and styles of living between the home-educated and traditionally-educated adults. From this table, the reader sees that adults who were homeschooled were more likely to participate in volunteer work and community service, attend religious services, read magazines and books, write clearly, and take frequent trips to a public library. As the reader continues to review the table, he or she finds that on average, homeschooled students were more likely to see their life as very happy and exciting and to be very satisfied with the work they do. In addition, the majority of responders said that they were glad to be homeschooled and did not see homeschooling as a limiter to their educational and career opportunities. From the results presented in Dr. Ray’s research, homeschooled students were shown to have no problem with getting involved in their community and organizations outside their close community, and most went on to have an overall successful career.

But what about political tolerance? Since the child is being taught by his or her parents without any outside influence, do homeschooled children grow up to be averse to political viewpoints that contradict their own? Are they less willing to hear the other side of the story? These questions are also commonly asked when discussing the topic of homeschooling. Albert Cheng, who published an article titled “Does Homeschooling or Private Schooling Promote Political Intolerance? Evidence from a Christian University” on March 10, 2014 in the Journal of School Choice, tackles this very question. Cheng defines political tolerance as “the willingness to extend civil liberties to people who hold views with which one disagrees” (Cheng). In his article, Cheng states that “[c]ontrary to the widespread belief” (Cheng) children who were enrolled in private school were “at least as politically tolerant” (Cheng) as those in public schools. Cheng goes on to say that when an experiment was conducted, the resulting studies implied that “private schools are as able and, in several cases, more effective than public schools” (Cheng) at producing politically tolerant students. When Cheng directly addresses homeschooling, he opens by saying that when asked by Kunzman (2009), parents who chose to homeschool disliked the idea of the government instilling regulations to restrict certain things to be taught such as “religious views or other ideologies” (Cheng). Now one might say that this is a prime example of children becoming politically intolerant if homeschooled. Surprisingly, however, Cheng states that Kunzman discovered that “homeschooled children were more politically tolerant than their parents” (Cheng).

There are always two sides to any argument, and the topic of whether homeschooling produces adults who are properly socialized and contributing members of society is no different. There are exceptions to everything, and every story is not the same. But when it comes to homeschooling and socialization, research has shown that homeschooled children have no issue with socializing and making friends; in fact, it has shown that homeschooled children tend to be happier and more politically tolerant than those who went to public school.

Works Cited

Mineo, Liz. “A Warning on Homeschooling.” The Harvard Gazette, The Harvard Gazette, 15 May 2020, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/05/law-school-professor-says-there-may-be-a-dark-side-of-homeschooling/

Ray, Brian. “Homeschooling Grows Up.” Wayback Machine. National Home Education Research Institute, 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20170201221238/http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/HomeschoolingGrowsUp.pdf

Home School Legal Defense Association. “Bio Guest Author Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.” HSLDA, HSLDA, 1 June 2020, https://hslda.org/bio/brian-d-ray-phd

Cheng, Albert. “Does Homeschooling or Private Schooling Promote Political Intolerance? Evidence from a Christian University.” Journal of School Choice, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 8:1, 49-68, DOI: 10.1080/15582159.2014.875411, 10 Mar 2014, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15582159.2014.875411

Anesley Middlekauff is a rising sophomore at Iowa State University, majoring in agricultural business. This summer she is interning at an organic farm in Indiana. Anesley was homeschooled from the early years through high school by the Charlotte Mason method.

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