You’d be surprised at how many people find my blog by searching that question or some variation thereof. So, I thought I would try to answer it. I will preface this post by saying that it is not my intention to come across as confrontational or belligerent. I hate confrontation and debate. This post is simply to give those unfamiliar with homeschooling some food for thought.
First, let’s determine what is meant by “weird” and “unsocialized.” According to Miriam-Webster, weird means of strange or extraordinary character.
(It also means of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural. I never knew that…and I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the definition to which anyone, even someone opposed to homeschooling, is referring when they talk about “weird homeschoolers,” so we’ll ignore that one. And, I have to admit, the “extraordinary character was a bit of a surprise, too…but I like the sound of that.)
Unsocialized is not in the dictionary, but socialized is and since we know that “un” means not, we can infer the meaning by defining socialized — to make social; to fit or train for a social or to organize group participation in.
I’ll throw one final definition in here, for clarity’s sake. Social means marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with one’s friends or associates; of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society; tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one’s kind.
Okay, so, let’s assume that your basic definition of a weird, unsocialized homeschooler is a strange kid who has not been trained for interacting with other individuals or a group.
Let me ask you this: how many homeschoolers have you observed on which to base your opinion? One? Two? Fifty?
And, one more question: If you went to public school, which most of us did, how many kids did you know who were “strange” or who didn’t really interact well with groups or individuals? I bet there were at least a couple. I know there were in my school. So let me offer this idea for thought: What if the homeschoolers that you have met, upon which you’ve formed your opinion of all homeschoolers, were just kids who, for whatever reason, would be considered “strange” period. Is it at least possible that their behavior would seem strange regardless of how or where they were being educated?
I’ve met lots of homeschoolers in my seven years of home educating my kids. I’ve met kids who are quiet and shy and kids who are talkative and outgoing. I’ve met kids who dress plain and kids who dress in the latest fashions. I’ve meet kids who are trendy and have all the latest gadgets and are into the latest crazes and kids who could care less about those things. I’ve met kids who would be popular in most any setting and kids who would probably be considered weird. And, meeting all of these kids has taught me one thing: kids are who they are mostly because that is the kid’s general make-up, not because of how or where they are educated.
The “real world” that my kids are often thought to be missing isn’t the real world at all. The things that go on in public schools each day are often things that would get a person fired or thrown into jail in the real world. At home (or at church, or on the playground), I can teach my kids to handle conflict (because when you have siblings, you have conflict) in ways that will serve them well as they grow to adulthood.
If you’re interested in reading more about my thoughts on the socialization “problem” of homeschooling, you can do so here. For now, I’ll just suffice it to say that I think most of what the general public assumes about homeschooling is based on lack of knowledge and misconception. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooled kids, although not in a classroom all day every day are not isolated. People who aren’t familiar with homeschooling seem to have a difficult time comprehending that fact.
Let me, instead, offer you this definition of a “weird, unsocialized homeschooler” — a kid of extraordinary character who is being trained to to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others; the training is simply being guided, more often than not, by loving adults, rather than immature, often fickle or even cruel, peers.
It might also describe a kid who passes pleasant companionship with his friends. My kids have plenty of those — close friends with whom they talk on the phone, email and enjoy regular play dates. The fact that my kids don’t see their friends every day, five days a week, and have a chance to chat with them for five minutes at lunch, in the midst of gulping down their food, or ten minutes at recess does not diminish the value and depth of the relationship.
I have to confess that, having homeschooled for over six years and having met many, many homeschooled kids, I really don’t understand why people think these kids are weird or unsocialized. That’s why we proudly wear our “unsocialized homeschooler” t-shirts, because it’s so funny to us that people actually see these bright, friendly, respectful (most of the time!) kids this way. The kids I’ve met have, by and large, been anything but society’s version of weird or unsocialized.
I’m proud to be mom to three weird, unsocialized homeschoolers — kids of extraordinary character who frequently enjoy the company of their friends. I’m proud to be raising Christian kids of honor, faith and integrity who will hold to the values and morals of our family as they grow into adulthood. I’m proud to be raising kids who aren’t inherently different than their public schooled counterparts simply because of our educational choices.
And, for the record, I don’t believe that everyone should homeschool, nor do I believe that parents whose kids attend public school or private school are making wrong choices for their families. I believe that how parents educate their children is simply one of a multitude of parenting choices that are made with the best interests of the family and the child at heart.
I hope that the next time you meet a homeschooled kid, you’ll take a minute or two to talk to him or her. I think you’ll see that there may be more to this kid than you may have initially thought.
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.