The Socialization Question: Living Outside “The Cave” – Part 1

One of the first concerns people share with me about homeschooling is their fear that their child or children will grow up to become social misfits.  That somehow life will become so small that it will revolve around the 3 R's and chores... no more friends... no more playing... no more fun.  Deep sigh...

While I can understand this fear, in this article I hope to provide new homeschoolers - or those considering it - with some creative and practical ways to get some sunshine and socialization outside "the cave".

First of all, I'd encourage you to develop a mindset that seeks learning opportunities outside of the books.  Although pre-packaged curriculum provide the structure and direction that so many new homeschoolers think they need, the danger lies in becoming a slave to them.  Home indeed becomes a stuffy and oppressive "cave" when we have to "get school done" before life moves on.  The activities I describe below are replete with educational benefits, and we use or have used all of them to homeschool our own.

Remember, socialization is important not only within one's peer group, but inter-generationally.  One of the biggest drawbacks I find in public education is age segregation.  To most non-homeschoolers, socialization means having their kids in a class with others their own age.  This form of segregation is obviously an artificial environment when you realize that once out of school, children need to learn how to interact with people of all ages.  Therefore, creating a balance in socialization is crucial for healthy growth and development.  Here I will offer options that are primarily peer-oriented; Part II describes activities that provide more inter-generational experiences.

1. Scouting - This is also a terrific learning opportunity.  We have used the requirements for badges and pins as springboards for many subjects.  Between troop meetings, camping and the field trips we go on, the kids get quite a bit of fun and educational "kid time".

2. Sports groups - Sports provide both exercise and socialization, along with the all-important development of team-work skills.  We've participated in teams at the Y, our town's Recreation Department, and church leagues.  Homeschoolers in urban areas often have the added-advantage of homeschool leagues in certain sports.

3. Support group activities - Our local support group has twice-monthly classes (Friday classes) and monthly "extras", as well as dances, yearbook, Key Club and other functions for the high-school set.  We also arrange periodic field trips and have a group that meets regularly for "park day" - fun for the kids and mom! Lots of opportunities for socialization here!

4. Museum classes - Many museums offer short-term classes or group lessons.  Our zoo offers a 6-week science class each semester, and the local cultural center has periodic day-long offerings.  Check with your local art,  history, or science museum to see what they might have planned.  This is a great way to meet kids from all over your area.

5. Church and religious organizations - Our church has both Sunday and Wednesday night programs for the kids, along with Vacation Bible school and summer camps.  An added benefit here is that while the kids are socializing in a supervised and safe environment, mom and dad get to socialize as well.  A true win-win!

Homeschooling doesn't have to mean the end of an interesting and stimulating social life!  Use these ideas as a springboard to open up your mind and start investigating what's available in your own area.  And then read Part II, where I present some other socialization options.


Pat Fenner and her husband Paul have been homeschooling their five children for 14 years. You can visit Pat’s website at Help-4-Your-Homeschool.com.

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