“At a time when so many people feel isolated, alone, constrained, and overwhelmed, homeschooling offers exactly what we are all longing for: connection, freedom, and joy.”
“Let’s face it. Even if the question of socialization were not already at the forefront of the minds of new homeschoolers under normal circumstances (spoiler alert: it is), it certainly would be during the pandemic.
In fact, few issues have more reliably weighed on the minds of new and would-be homeschoolers.
Luckily, surprising though it may sound, socialization is actually an advantage of homeschooling. And many of the social benefits of homeschooling apply just as much, or more, during the pandemic. Sound hard to believe? Stay with me for a minute.
One of the primary concerns expressed about homeschooling is worry that kids will not have friends and peer contact. Yet at the same time, homeschoolers name their friendships--and peer relationships and interactions--as one of the greatest benefits they experience through homeschooling.
How can this be?
Simple. Homeschoolers, under normal (non-pandemic) circumstances, have abundant time and opportunity to play, interact, and hang out together in situations that afford real time and freedom for extended, quality interaction. Not limited to brief, superficial interactions passing each other in the hall, passing notes or texts in class, and rushing through lunch and recess, homeschoolers often spend relaxed, high-quality time talking and playing together during long afternoons at parks, visits to each other’s houses, meaningful extracurricular activities like scouts, dance classes, sports teams, service projects, and more. While their conventionally-schooled counterparts are confined to desks in classrooms, they are out forging deep, meaningful connections and friendships with one another and with the world at large.
Of course, during the pandemic, many of these activities are not taking place in person, just as much of in-person public and private school is not happening. But the flexibility homeschoolers enjoy to use their time in this way remains the same. The academic aspects of homeschooling are much more efficient than those of school--this has been shown time and time again in research and in homeschoolers’ lives--and that leaves lots more time for--you guessed it--socializing. So while other kids are stuck in front of their computers doing their online schooling, many homeschoolers are spending that time creatively socializing with their friends (and family) in meaningful ways, either online, or in person in socially-distanced situations, or in person in “quarantine pods”--or whatever works best for their families.
But arguably an even more important social benefit of homeschooling is the independence and strong family relationships it fosters. The unparalleled freedom, flexibility, and efficiency of the homeschooling situation allows parents to focus on supporting their kids in whatever ways they need (this applies both academically and socially), siblings to learn to interact peacefully and happily (a skill that is honed with time, practice, and guidance), and kids to develop genuine independence naturally. Free to schedule their days as they see fit, get adequate sleep, and adjust their plans according to their needs, even busy homeschooling families find that they are able to spend relaxed, positive, pleasant time together, take the time to resolve conflicts as needed, and nurture their family’s relationships and mental and emotional health.
And during the days of Covid-19, who among us wouldn’t benefit from that?
But this is just a sampling of the many social benefits that homeschooling offers. Though it is common to think of socialization as a drawback of homeschooling, the ironic truth is that right now, nothing offers more of what children and families need. At a time when so many people feel isolated, alone, constrained, and overwhelmed, homeschooling offers exactly what we are all longing for: connection, freedom, and joy.” - Rachel #NorthCarolina
The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling, by Rachel Gathercole
Photo Credits: Sadie Zimet