There isn't a homeschooling family that I'm aware of that haven't come up against the age old 'socialisation' question. I'm told it becomes less frequent when your children are teenagers, but those of us with small children are hounded by it. It reminds me of one of my favourite youtube videos How Do You Socialise Your Children?
I'm indebted to a homeschooling mother, who was a teacher in her former children years, for bringing to my attention the work of Dr Gordon Neufield, who is a canadian clinical psychologist who works with children with aggression problems.
He states that 'the prevailing assumption is that the greatest drawback to homeschooling is the loss of social interaction with peers. Times have changed however, making peer interaction more of a problem than an asset. Instead of peer interaction facilitating the process of socialization, it is now more likely to lead to the premature replacement of adults by peers in the life of a child.
Such children become peer-oriented rather than adult-oriented and are more difficult to parent and teach. Furthermore, peer-oriented children fail to mature psychologically and their integration into adult society is compromised.
Because of escalating peer orientation, it is now the school that has become risky business. What was once the most powerful argument against home-schooling is now its most persuasive defense. Contrary to prevailing concerns, home-schooled children are showing evidence of being more mature psychologically, more socially adept and more academically prepared for university. They have become the favored applicants of a number of major universities.
If current trends in society continue, homeschooling may very well become a necessary antidote to escalating peer-orientation. We may need to reclaim our children not only to preserve or recover the context in which to teach and parent them but also for the sake of society at large and the transmission of culture.
The developmental needs of children were never paramount in the arguments that led to the inception of compulsory education. Indeed, there was little that was even understood or known about child development at that time. It should not be surprising therefore to find that developmental science does not support school as the best context for children to learn, to mature or to become socialized.
Although the school has become a central institution in our society, it is not without risks to emotional health and development.'
In his presentations on this topic, Dr. Neufeld presents five factors that, when all things are considered, tend to favour homeschooling over traditional schooling, given the home is suitable of course, the parent capable, the child receptive and the option exists. These factors include the enabling of parents, the emotional health of the child, interest and curiousity, the socialization of the child and the teachability of the child.
Dr Neufeld's book 'Hold on to Your Kids' will definitely be going on my christmas list this year.