It is widely believed that homeschooling has a negative impact on children’s social skills. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Research has consistently shown that homeschooled kids score better than traditionally schooled kids on social development markers. According to a study, the homeschooled students’ score was in the 84th percentile for daily living skills, communication, socialization and social maturity subscales, whereas that of the traditionally schooled students was in the 23rd percentile. So, what are the factors that make homeschooled children score so well in social markers?
Let us explore some of these factors below:
- A Wide Range of Social Experiences
Contrary to popular belief, homeschooled kids do not spend the whole day at the kitchen table, trying to solve math problems or learn scientific concepts. They are involved in a wide array of activities spaced throughout the week, ranging from community theater, music and online dance classes to play dates, field trips with other kids from the homeschooling community and volunteering for the community.
A diverse variety of social situations ultimately teaches them more social skills than the kids who spend the whole day sitting behind a desk in the classroom.
- Interactional Opportunities with Adults
Kids who go to school spend most of their time with other students of their age. While associating with peers is necessary for social growth, it is not the only thing required when learning to socialize. Homeschooled kids not only spend time with kids of their age, but they also interact with and learn directly from other adults who are better able to model appropriate social skills. Homeschooled kids may interact with older members of the community through volunteering or from outside activities; they come across people of all ages and backgrounds through the various activities they participate in.
- Forming Better Friendships
At school, kids are forced to interact with a given number of students, i.e., their class fellows. Usually, the kids sitting next to each other become friends as they are forced to socialize every day. In sharp contrast to this type of artificial social setting, homeschooled kids have greater freedom in choosing who they hang out with and who they befriend. Free from obligations of befriending the kid sitting next to them, they seek out other kids they like and have shared interests with, and become friends with them, learning invaluable social skills in the process.
- Freedom to Explore the Social Landscape
If your child is an introvert or struggles with social anxiety, putting them in an environment that actively forces them to participate in activities best suited for extroverted students can harm their growth. Also, some children have a highly independent personality and want more freedom in their social interactions. Every child socializes in their own unique way, and homeschooling provides children with the opportunity to navigate the social landscape in their own terms.
- A Safe Environment is Conducive to Growth
Last but not least, homeschooling is a way to remove children from a harmful environment. According to statistics released by the NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics), around 20% of school-going children reported being bullied in the year 2017. If a child is facing bullying or harassment at school, and their mental health and social progress are being affected, homeschooling becomes necessary. It ensures children still have a chance at a normal childhood and can grow and flourish in an environment conducive to their well-being.
In 2017, 20% of students from grades 9-12 reported that they had access to illegal drugs on school property. If children are being exposed to drugs and harmful substances at school, which is hindering their academic and social progress, homeschooling can provide them with a healthy, drug-free environment that promotes social growth and learning.