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.


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.



December 22, 2008

Will National force homeschooling beneficiaries to go to work?

In an earlier post I wrote about National’s plan to force beneficiaries to find work once their children reach school age, and I showed how this ill-conceived idea will backfire.

I was concerned that beneficiaries who wished to homeschool might not be allowed to do so, so I emailed Paula Bennett, the new Minister of Social Development (Minister of Social Welfare in old-speak). Today I have received a letter from her which says in part:


This is a tricky situation for a classical liberalist. On one hand I am opposed to taxpayer-funded welfare, and on the other hand I am opposed to state education that indoctrinates children and undermines families.

On balance I believe that beneficiaries should be allowed to homeschool for the following reasons¹:

1) it’s better for the taxpayers: paying a benefit is cheaper than sending a child to school plus paying a partial benefit to a parent who is working part time².

2) a child that is homeschooled is more likely to benefit society than one who is schooled by the state, because a child who is taught well at home has better academic results, more maturity and is better when it comes to logic and independent thought. They do not turn into adults who continually grasp the mammaries of the nanny state³.

3) as I said in the post linked to above, the state uses schools to undermine families, and undermining families harms children as well as the rest of society.

4) the fundamental issue here is whether or not children of beneficiaries will be forced into state schools, and I believe that parents should be free to raise their children as they see fit and without the liberal left propaganda that is fed to children in schools


As Bennett’s letter says, she is still considering whether or not to force the children of beneficiaries into state schools. I strongly urge you to make a stand for freedom and email her or write to her, stating that you wish to see an exemption to the work rule for beneficiaries who desire to homeschool4. It helps to give reasons for your belief, a paragraph will suffice.

Click here for Paula Bennett’s email form.

A stamp is not required for snail mail:

Hon Paula Bennett
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

What are your thoughts regarding beneficiaries who wish to homeschool?

When you’ve written to Paula Bennett please post a copy of the letter in a comment or send a copy to me via the contact page.


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


1) there is no perfect solution in our present society, so I am focusing on the lesser of the evils.

2) this statement is based upon a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

3) this statement is based upon my personal observations of children who are homeschooled.

4) The state is arrogant enough to police parents who homeschool via the Education Review Office, so beneficiaries won’t find that homeschooling is an easy way to avoid work.

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