Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do They Have Friends?

Whenever David and I are approached by parents who are discerning homeschooling, the topic of socialization inevitably arises as a legitimate concern.  David and I always answer their concern with respect .   More often then not, we will receive the (a-hem) "concerned" question from those who obviously disapprove of homeschooling, (typically, an opinion they hold  based on ignorance), going so far as to pre-warn us with GREAT wisdom that our children will grow into "social retards".  I inquire if it is okay, then, to have my children socialized by today's standards where this person believed the term "social retard" was even acceptable?

After 10 years of homeschooling, the concern of "Do they have friends?" is actually mute subject.  All homeschooling families know this.  A larger portion of our American society continues to grow to understand this.  Yet, there is the die-hard nay-sayer that will never truly "see" based on their own willful ignorance.

Why bring it up?  I was thinking about how socially active my home schooled kids are, especially after yet another busy weekend.  Where no two homeschooling families are alike, my family's lifestyle does reflect, to some degree, what all homeschooling  lives are like…in the social department.

This past Friday night, these two knuckleheads were out the door by 6:15pm to attend a going away party down the street for a sweet family moving to Colorado next week.  (Four out of five homes on our street have homeschooling families!)

That same night, these two teens attended a Halloween party for High School kids and/ or "mature" 12 year olds and up.   The group consisted of a dozen teens all homeschoolers just from our subdivision.  They represented different backgrounds, religions, and ages, and saw no barriers that would hinder their socializing with one another.

Saturday brought another double header.  There was a swim meet of Sally's that I attended.

(I LOVE watching the warm ups at these meets.  All of these amazing swimmers preparing to compete.)

Sally's swim team is a huge umbrella that consists of various tiers of athletic ability and ages and one of those tiers is a home school team.  The home school tier has different groups within according to age and athletic ability as well.

In the pool above - and there was a second pool on the other side full of swimmers - Sally was warming up with kids 14-18 years old, male and female, public schooled and home schooled.

I was able to find  her …

I think she has about 12 kids on her squad…age 13 - 18.  They train 5 days a week.  A GREAT group of kids who get along and see no  age or gender barriers when they are together.  Socializing comes as natural to them as a fish takes to water.

After the meet, I had to hurry home and prepare for an American Girl movie night for just "some" of the 4th & 5th grade girls in our home school group.  (We missed the ones who were unable to attend.)

Most of them came in pajamas and brought a doll with them.   They had popcorn and snacks, giggled and talked, and then totally got into McKenna :)

We don't do sports on Sundays, trying to keep it a day of rest & relaxation.  When Monday comes, two of the kids will be in Tae Kwon Do practice and Stan takes part in Troops of St. George.  

Last Saturday, to celebrate Sally's birthday, she had a girlfriend over for home made pizza and to spend the night.

Sally got to know Miss M from the SHINE Catholic work camp they both attended last summer.  Miss M is a parishioner at the same Catholic church we are members of and attends a HUGE public high school in another town.  The same high school that just built a $60 million high school football stadium.

Their schooling couldn't be any more further apart, yet that difference never phases them or their friendship.

Growing friendships and being involved with other kids can be tough on home schoolers, especially when you come from a rural area or move, like we did.  The roots need to be given sufficient time to take hold and spread out.  It doesn't happen over night,  but it will happen if the kids get involved with other groups, activities, or sports.

For those die hard nay-sayers, the term "socialization" has been redefined and homeschooling played a key role in that.  Unfortunately, there will always be that group refuses to accept the change.  To homeschooling families, those are the people who have no true socialization.  So, the answer to the the question, "Do they have friends?" is open your eyes and see that home schooled kids receive  healthy doses of socialization every single minute of the day, every single day.

~  Patty  ~


  1. Lovely post! Such a ridiculous concern…as if every public school or parochial school kiddo was adequately or appropriately "socialized"…they're not! (I know you know that just from teaching Confirmation class LOL)

  2. Oh, Patty, this is so true!! I was nodding my head through the whole post. Love the movie night with the girls and their dolls, how fun! We had 47 people here Friday after our All Saints noon Mass for soup and a walk in the graveyard behind our home. One older lady friend that I invited to come along shared with me later that she so enjoyed all the kids and how nice they all were. She couldn't believe how there was not one disagreement with so many and was most surprised that there was NOT ONE kid on a cell phone!!

    I have noticed that difference between "normal" kids, and homeschool kids. Homeschool kids are actuallly socializing while the school kids are texting...

    You are so blessed to have so many homeschoolers on your block!!

    We have over 200 families in our area that homeschool. 60 of those are in the Catholic group. That's a lot.

  3. I can't even believe we are still having this discussion! That people choose to bury their heads and see only what they want to see, is sad really. Socialization is such a non-issue for homeschool families. And to think that people sometimes feel "sorry" for our kids. Ha!! Great post, Patty!

    1. I know it is a non-issue for the home schooling families. Where others may not understand since they don't choose that path for whatever reason, they don't see it. But there are those who, you know, truly look down on home schooling due to their own heads being stuck in the sand, like you said. They are the ones that drive me up the wall! Let's just tell them the next time we are asked that our kids have no friends at all. I wonder what would happen...

  4. Such a wonderful post, Patty!

    When we shared our decision to home/Cyberschool, we heard the "what about their friends?" question more than I can count. The people who asked were more concerned about that than the religious or educational benefits we would receive!

    Ugh! People! ; )

    Thanks for sharing, friend. : )

    1. EXACTLY! When they have more concern about this crazy "friendship" thing and not their actual education or faith formation…that's what I'm talking about. As though friends can only be made in a regular school setting. Excellent point!

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  6. I think we need to be careful not to throw stones at the public/parochial schooled kiddos. Not all non-homeschooled children are texting/self-indulged/anti-social tweens/teens. Yes, texting is a problem in society, but IMO, that is due to a parenting issue and not a schooling issue. Cell phones are not even allowed at my children's parochial school…and we go up through the 8th grade. Many good and faithful as well as faith-filled Catholics choose to educate their children through the public and parochial school systems…and we too are raising future saints with values and manners. Okay, end of rant.

    1. I absolutely agree that most parents are trying to raise future saints. I, too, know many good and faithful Catholics trying to raise future saints. I know that all those who left a comment or read this post would agree with that.

      Taking a presumptuous role in my answer here….I believe what Jamie Jo meant was that there truly is a fundamental difference in how our society has shaped regular school aged children vs homeschool children. Not always, but for the most part. For example, in all of my years as a public and Catholic school teacher and now a CCD teacher, what I have observed especially in the upper grades, it is "uncool" to socialize with a child who isn't in "your group". Group meaning, homeroom, or grade, or financial status, or gender. This is very prevalent from Jr. High up In some cases, it caries on into college depending on the, shall I say, maturity level, of the college student.

      So back to the point, when you have a group of home school kids - ages newborn through high school - gather together, their mingling, goofing around, laughing and talking with one another, their "socializing" usually involved the group as a whole. One particular example are the homeschool kids in our subdivision.

      Yesterday, when my three girls, ages 10-14, came home from the park, they told me all the kids (in particular, home school kids) that where there, which included up through Sr. High. They went on to tell me the "games" they played with the one another which included, dear I say, TAG! Haha. Most of the kids in upper grades in regular schools would either think that was totally "uncool" down deep inside, they would want to hang out with these homeschoolers, but were afraid of being ostracized for playing tag.

      These examples are not to make homeschoolers "better" in the sense they are saints and regular school kids are not. Oh no no no! It is simply showing how the "socialization" is different in many ways. Kind of like, (at the risk of sounding uncool), like the days of Laura Ingalls. How wonderfully simple it is. People DO notice that difference. I here it all the time. Again, it isn't to say one group is better than the other, it is simply an observation of a fundamental fact.

      As for texting, it is a HUGE problem, both with parenting issues AND schooling issues, even in the parochial schools. A ways back, I took a trip to visit my family. It was during a "regular school" week of classes. My kids had the awesome opportunity to go to their cousins' Catholic school for the day. It was the same school I went to and taught at. They came home with mixed opinions. The worst opinion came from the Jr High class. She said EVERYONE was on their phones texting, or they'd be talking out loud to one another in their seats, as well as other forms of utter disrespect for the teacher. And it happened in each department except Math. She said that Math teacher was strict. My interpretation since I had that same Math teacher when I attended school there was not mean, but GOOD!

      My CCD kids about fell off their chairs when on the first day of class I told them to turn in all cell phones at the beginning of class or the consequence would be that I take and keep them, turning them into the DRE.

      I was just at a Catholic conference at University of Dallas and one of the sessions I attended was on how to use technology in the Catholic classroom. He was advocating the use of cell phones, but didn't have answers on how to deal with the negative issues that are rising from the use of cell phones in the class. So it is an issue.

      As I mentioned, I could not agree with you more on how so many good and faithful Catholics are trying to raise saints. I know Jamie Jo feels the same, it was just the wording that was used that was meant in another way. Hope this explanation helps and that there are no hard feelings :)

    2. I apologize if I didn't "explain" Jamie Jo's comment correctly or it lacked in tying it all together…I have to run because my troops are getting REALLY ansy and I need to get school started :)

  7. I think the socialization question for homeschooling is a valid one, but most families I know that homeschool have lots of kids, and so their kids have built in friends all day long! The teens and texting thing is so bad with school kids because school kids need a phone to be able to reach their parents, and the Internet is so tempting (I mean lok at us, using it right now) and teens don't even know a different way of life, so it is very hard for them to balance it. I hope I can hold my school kids off from a phone as long as possible, but even in the Catholic high school where I work, freshman have to have an iPad, so there will always be a problem for parents trying to teach a balance and for kids trying to learn that. My husband and I have said no computer/Internet/iPad anywhere but in a family space (living room, kitchen, etc) but we'll have to wait and see how that all plays out when we get to that point.

    1. The question regarding "friends" is part of the progression in a natural thought process when homeschool comes up. I agree. There's nothing wrong with that. What should naturally follow in that same thought process however, is how do "you" (person having the thought process) define socialization? If everyone could stop and realize that if home schoolers did not make any friends, coming from large families or not, I don't think home schooling would be as successful as it is.

      I may get myself into hot water in the homeschooling world by saying this, but my kids would kill me if they had to just be friends with their siblings. They drive one another nuts more times than not. Ha ha! And I will take it one step further by adding, there are siblings and then there are friends. A distinct difference even when between sibling-friends and friends.

      When I use the terms "we" and "you" in the following part, I'm referring to the general, no one person in particular….

      We are use to basing our judgements on what we see around us, what we hear and read about. But when we branch out, we find all sorts of interesting things. We gather info from the circles are part of. With that said, I surround myself with mostly Catholic home schooling families. They help me to grow in my faith and as a parent. It isn't because I dislike other Christian home schoolers or non Christian homeschoolers.

      A lot of Catholic homeschooling families do have big families. A lot of them do not and it isn't due to a lack of trying or desiring. There are a lot of non-Christian families and even non-Catholic families choosing to home school based solely on reasons other than faith. Actually, the majority of home school families are based on this. I, myself, would not have known it if I had not read articles containing the statistics.

      The computer/electronic rule is a great one! We are very similar. My oldest did receive a "plain Jane" phone when she started swim team. They didn't have pay phones - ha ha - and having to practice quite a distance from home, it was a good way to communicate between her and us. I picked up some great electronic usage rules from the book Smart Martha's Guide for the Busy Catholic Mom. It is a gem and I highly recommend it. The chapter on electronics was great especially since she is coming from a veteran's mom - been there - done it - point of view.

      Back to my original post though…I was talking about the die hard nay-sayer who disagrees with home schooling based on willful ignorance. I think the next time that type of person asks the really ridiculous question, "Do they have friends?" I am going to say, "NO. Not one single friend." I wonder what the reply would be. Hopefully, no reply. They'd "get it" and drop the fake concern :)

      I am loving the discussion though that shoots from this post!

  8. Hi Patty, what an interesting conversation you've started. We have experienced both a public and now private school but never homeschooling. I'm definitely proCatholic than pro public school for education. Primarily for the academics. My son has surpassed my knowledge is math, history, social studies....etc. he would be a more competent homeschooler to me.! What he has been learning these last couple of years, I learned in high school and college. He's way ahead of where I was in 8th grade.

    As for socialization, a student in a public school or private school can have all sorts of socialization issues. The pressure to perform in a private school is great. The pace is fast and in the smaller private schools, you better keep up or the gap gets wider and wider. Public schools have the resources to help those who need it. All of this pressure and stigma affects a child's self esteem which impacts their social skills.

    I would imagine that there is some degree of pressure that a homeschooled child feels but they are given the time to work at their own pace.

    The homeschool families I know in my neighborhood have a lot of field trips and opportunities for hands on learning. Time to really delve into a topic and learn. In a way, it seems more fun :). The public school experience we had focused on standardized state testing that became glaringly obvious when my son switched to a catholic school. The two didn't compare. As I would imagine homeschooling would be very different.

    As for cell phones, ugh. The schools in my area both public and private do not allow them in school. They are taken away if caught with them. Which is good in my opinion.

    You've obviously n felt judged by the socialization question and it is due to unfamiliarity. Don't let these questions get under your skin. People have a resistance to change and new concepts. Just offer up a quick prayer for them :). Keep doing what you're doing my friend! Raising smart, happy, polite saints!

  9. I appreciate the thoughts of all here, but I personally hone in on your veteran mom input because it comes from actual hands-on experience. I hope you don't mind me calling you a veteran mom. When I first started schooling, I always looked up to the veteran moms for guidance simply because they've been there, done that. They were a wealth of information for newbie moms as myself. The information was always there for us to take and digest and to apply to our own family needs. You added on some extremely important bits of information. Thank you for that!

  10. HI Patty! My sister-in-law and brother home schooled their 10 kids through high school. Three of them went to Notre Dame for college. I would say that they were not stunted in any way by their home-school experiences.

    You are very blessed to have such supportive and happy home-schoolers in your area! And you do make that commitment to getting your kids involved in sports and social events. That's what makes the difference. Maybe some people have seen other families that have cut themselves off from the community? Sort of home-schooling in fear? That's sad. I sure have seen success with it!

    Blessings to your efforts and your lovely family :)

    1. 10 kids?? Oh my word! I can barely do it with the group I have. A homeschooling fear. Well, you know, every single group has some different folks in it…teachers, doctors, lawyers, even homeschoolers. I'm not sure if I'd call it a homeschool fear though. At least, I haven't heard anyone who home schools and likes to be home buddies refer to it as that. As for my gang, I'm trying to focus on what is best and to be honest, it can be darn right exhausting for the home school mom :) At least for this mama. I limit them to one sport each. That's it. I know a lot of others that get even more involved with sports or the arts. I don't know how they do it. My personal goal is to have a family dinner each night. I appreciate your thoughts and kind words, Ceil!

  11. You are doing such a great job, friend! This is a wonderful post and you have shown how community can be found and nurtured, brava! The photos are great...everyone is growing up! I especially like the header and your ABOUT ME is just PERFECTION!


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