Monday, November 16, 2009

Silencing the Critics

If you are homeschooling, are thinking of homeschooling, or are even leaving the tiniest window of opportunity open to homeschooling, you need to know the rest of the world thinks you are a mutant. Something went wrong somewhere in your development to cause you to ignore the institutions established by highly-educated professionals and choose to keep your children home with you when it is obviously best for everyone if they go off to spend most of their days with groups of their peers.

Have you heard any of these criticisms before? If you haven’t, you are either surrounded by saints or have kept your decision a secret. If you have, how do you respond to the well-meaning (mostly) questioners of your convictions?

Let’s tackle the number-one, all-time favorite question posed to homeschoolers or potential homeschoolers, the granddaddy of skeptical quips—what about their socialization?

The very thought of it makes a parent tremble. Do we want to produce awkward, uncooperative adults as the result of our homeschool experiment? Of course not, so we stumble at the suggestion that our children will not be able to function properly in the world without adequate doses of interaction with kids whose birthdays fall within the prescribed parameters.

Here is the response I developed during seventeen years of fielding this question. (Yes, I heard it even as they were about to graduate.)
Are you ready?
I would simply ask them what they meant by “socialization.” It never failed to end the conversation quickly. It turns out most people aren’t really sure about what they mean by the word socialization. A few would begin to define the concept, and as they did, I could deal with each of their points as they made them. I was no longer on the defensive or pressured.

Now, there are wonderful studies to support the idea that homeschooled children turn out just a well-socialized as their public school counterparts, and we can use those to calm our own fears. I firmly believe, though, that we do not owe the world an explanation for what we know the Lord has called us to do.

So go to that family reunion, hold your head high, and remember “What do you mean by socialization?”


  1. I always forget that one and just explain that our kids get plenty of interaction with others through Sunday School, Awana, homeschool PE classes at the YMCA, etc. I like your answer better though as it shows a little of the motivation behind the question so that it can be addressed directly.

  2. Hey Shelly,

    How cool! I didn't know that you had a blog- and even cooler, one pertaining to home-schooling. I am so glad that I facebooked upon this. I will be back, as this year I am praying hard about homeschooling my kids starting next year.