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