Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kids are Copycats

When a family decides to home educate, one of the first questions other people ask is, "what about socialization"?  Our culture assumes that children must spend daily time with peers in order to develop social aptitudes and skills.  Although a homeschool family instinctively knows that daily peer interaction isn't a necessity in developing social skills, it is sometimes difficult to know how to respond to this question.  Dr. Raymond Moore, the grandfather of homeschooling in America, authored many books and gave many seminars on home education.  He spoke confidently about the positive socialization of homeschooled children.  His premise was that children are more properly socialized by responsible adults who model mature behavior than by immature peers who are still developing their responses to the individuals around them.  Having a well-thought out response can help the homeschool parent deal with questions of socialization confidently and easily.  Sometimes all it helps to remind extended family and other curious adults that your children have appropriate peer interaction at church, music lessons, 4H, by participation in community service projects, and  involvement youth group like Pathfinders, Awana, and Scouts.  These are situations that can be guided by adults who can be alert to bullying, immature behavior, and thoughtlessness.  It is also helpful to have facts and figures from research on the tip of your tongue, so you can reassure others that your children really will turn out to be socially balanced young people and adults, even though they are homeschooled.  In fact, research shows that homeschooled children can have superior socialization because of it!  According to one study, children taught at home by their parents do not lag in social development when compared with those of the same age who attend conventional schools.  The behavior and social development test scores of children traditionally schooled and homeschooled showed that children taught at home by their parents have consistently fewer behavioral problems.  The findings also revealed that a child's social development depends more upon adult contact and less on contact with other children.  This conclusions affirms what Dr. Moore taught about socialization.  The study also suggested that children taught at home behaved better because they tended to imitate their parents [Kids Stuff, 93].  Isn't it reassuring to have research facts to back up what most parents instinctively realize about socialization of their children?        

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