Kiwi Polemicist

December 24, 2008

• Does homeschooling impair social skills?

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

Updated 28-3-09.

In a comment on an earlier post Ozymandias’ Warning said

I don’t agree that home schooled children are more likely to benefit society because of their academic results, maturity level and independent thought. Yes, generally they are more academic but I would argue they struggle more than state school children to adjust and mix socially.

Whilst I could say much about the first sentence, today I will concentrate on the second sentence*. It is reasonable to assume that the belief behind this sentence is as follows: “Children need to go school to learn the social skills that they are born without. Moreover, homeschooled children will struggle to adjust and mix socially because they did not go to school and learn those vital social skills”. I have three responses to this:

1) whilst children do need contact with other children in order to learn social skills, parents need to control who their children are learning their social skills from. When a child is sent to school parents cannot control who their child meets, and disciplinary standards in schools are so lax that children learn their social skills from undisciplined and rebellious children. A child who learns social skills from undisciplined and rebellious children will almost always be undisciplined and rebellious.

I used to catch a train to work every day and alight at a station full of high school pupils. The train staff regularly lamented the need to carry them and security staff were placed on the train runs that carried those children. Almost without exception those pupils were rude, obstructive, obnoxious, foul-mouthed, slovenly individuals bereft of basic good manners. I wouldn’t want my children learning social skills from them.

2) homeschooled children only struggle to adjust and mix socially if their parents have not given them an opportunity to learn social skills. Some homeschool parents fail to do this, but that is a matter of personal responsibility and no business of the state’s, i.e. it does not justify any state interference in family matters.

3) Whilst it is possible to homeschool children in an unhealthy environment reminiscent of a closed monastic order, homeschooling does allow children to see their parents interacting with other adults and to practise interacting with those adults. Sending your children to school reduces these opportunities by 30 hours per week, more if both parents are working.

My personal observation of homeschooled children is that they have excellent social skills, far ahead of their peers who are schooled in the conventional manner. In part this is because they have, under parental supervision, practised interacting with adults from a wide range of backgrounds and observed their parents interacting with those adults.

Conclusion

Athough children do learn valuable social lessons by interacting with other children, they do not need to go to school to do that. Also, the nature of schools is that children are dragged down towards the lowest common social behavioural denominator, rather than being raised towards the highest one.

I believe that if homeschooled children do have poor social skills it is not caused by homeschooling per se, rather it is usually because the parents have poor social skills. Moreover, my personal observation is that children who have learnt poor social skills from their parents do not learn good social skills by going to school.

What do you think about the effects of homeschooling and conventional schooling on social skills? Please share examples if possible.

**********

Click here for a biblical perspective on home schooling and state schooling.

* Ozymandias’ Warning: an additional response to your comment can be found on the original post.

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8 Comments »

  1. “My personal observation of homeschooled children is that they have excellent social skills, far ahead of their peers who are schooled in the conventional manner. In part this is because they have, under parental supervision, practised interacting with adults from a wide range of backgrounds and observed their parents interacting with those adults.”

    Bang on the money. I’ve even heard academics who’ve studied homeschooling making that exact same observation.

    My observation is that home schoolers may sometimes have issues with their own peer groups, but always interact far better with other age groups.

    [KP: thank you. It’s amazing how often academics confirm what is common sense based upon experience (for the record, this statement was entirely my own creation). My observation is that homeschooled kids have no issues with peers who are also homeschooled, but sometimes they do have issues with peers who aren’t homeschooled and therefore have different values and methods of interaction. It’s not a problem IMHO.]

    Comment by scrubone — December 24, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  2. Thanks for your comment KIWIPOLEMIST.

    While I dont want to go around and around on a topic that is very minor I have a responses to your latest blog.

    http://ozymandiaswarning.blogspot.com/2008/12/education-is-home-schooling-elitist.html

    Your comments have got me thinking about the differences between state and home schooling. In the near future I will do a post about the benefits of our state education system as it is something I am interested in, despite its many problems.

    cheers

    shem

    Comment by Ozymandias Warning — December 24, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

  3. There are five children (three girls, two boys) within a one block area surrounding us who are within a year in age of my oldest child. Three of the five are public (state) schooled, two are home schooled (including my child). Based on my observations of them, one is a bully and spoiled, two are on the shy side at first and then warm up to be delightful children, and two are out-going but tend toward being somewhat rude. I don’t think you could _correctly_ pick out the home-schooled children if you saw all five of them playing together.

    I knew a few kids growing up who were low on social skills and none of them were homeschooled. I think it is a personality thing. It is possible to have low social skills and be state-schooled. It is possible to have low social skills and be home-schooled.

    I know my kids have the same issues and triumphs as their cousins (three in state schools, four in private schools).

    [KP: thank you. Although this is a small sample space it does indicate that homeschooled kids aren’t freaks that can be spotted at a hundred paces. Here’s a couple of websites that may interest you:
    http://www.nchenz.org.nz/index.htm
    http://hef.org.nz/ ]

    Comment by doucementgently — December 25, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  4. I have written about my experiences at a “progressive” boarding school in Yorkshire at wenningtonschool.com. When I eventually emerged from this school I was, I realized many years later, slightly institutionalized, in that I couldn’t cope well with the “outside world”. I now wish that, instead of paying 100 pounds a term for my “education”, my father had (a) given the 100 pounds to me with a map of the nation’s youth hostels and a list of museums, art galleries, ancient buildings and “interesting people” to visit and report on, and then (b) sent me on my way. Then I might have actually learned something – and had a damn good time in the process.

    Comment by Alan Ireland — January 21, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    • Alan: I’ve had a look at your web page and I can understand your sentiments. However, an unstructured and child-directed education always gives poor results in regard to self discipline and academics.

      Comment by kiwipolemicist — January 21, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  5. […] Does homeschooling impair social skills? […]

    Pingback by Sweden wants to outlaw homeschooling for religious or philosophical reasons « Kiwi Polemicist — July 13, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  6. […] Does homeschooling impair social skills? […]

    Pingback by • Sweden wants to outlaw homeschooling done for religious and philosophical reasons « Kiwi Polemicist — July 13, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  7. […] schools is that children are dragged down towards the lowest common social behavioural denominator (click here). People assume that because most of the people at a school don’t follow the same religious or […]

    Pingback by The beauty of State Schools « Ozymandias' Warning — February 2, 2010 @ 9:45 pm


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