Do Homeschooled Children Have Problems with Social Skills?
There is much debate about whether homeschooling has an impact on the social skills of children. People who have reservations against the idea of homeschooling mention this as one of the biggest concerns while those who support homeschooling feel that there is no real impediment to children being socially adept even if they are educated at home.
The argument of those who feel that social skills cannot be imparted in a home setting is that there is no peer interaction on a daily basis. The process of children meeting others their own age and negotiating their way in and out of friendships and disagreements are all part of the social development of children. Homeschooling does not provide for this kind of relationships very easily. While a parent maybe able to create lesson plans to help his or her children master algebra and history, it is a lot trickier to impart social skills. There is the concern that homeschools may well end up keeping children in a very cocooned environment for a long time thus not giving them the resilience needed to interact with all kinds of people. The world is marked by diversity of thought, race, religion among many other differences and there is no easy way to provide an exposure to all this in the secluded setting of homeschools.
The counter-argument from homeschooling advocates is that homeschooling does not mean a hermit like existence for the children. For one, most homeschooling parents make it a point to use outside resources such as museums and libraries as teaching resources and they do not just have to children poring over books to acquire study skills. These kinds of outings make for natural interactions with the world around. Moreover, there are also group activities where several homeschooling families come together for field trips and such activities. Some communities offer classes, such as swimming classes, targeted at home schoolers. The idea here is to make sure that the homeschooled children meet other children. Social skills do not have to be developed only with people who are the exact same age and as long as there is scope for forming meaningful relationships social skills will get solidified.
Homeschooling parents go on to argue that the social skills gained in the traditional school setting are not necessary great or worth striving for. The pettiness of groupism in the school yard, the pressures of group think and the compulsion to do things to fit in and the concern of avoiding being the laughing stock of one's peers can be very stressful for children whether they are in elementary, middle or high school. Given that friendships in school come with this kind of additional baggage, homeschooling parents feel that in the balance the social skills acquired at home seem healthier to a child's psyche.
The topic draws a lot of debate with people offering anecdotal evidence of social misfits who attended regular schools versus homeschoolers who never quite seem to know how to engage with others of their age group. There is enough evidence to suggest that the social skills of each person are defined by their individual circumstances. So a homeschooled child who has had adequate occasions for social exposure and interaction has no reason to be any less adept than a child who has attended a school outside the house.