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Quote About Dandelions

"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."

-- Hal Borland

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Education - A Social Schooling

(This is the extended edition of a persuasive speech given in my Honors Communications class. Links to sources available upon request.)

Volunteer Zookeeper, ballerina, amateur herpetologist, beekeeper, costume maker, and orphaned squirrel rehabilitator. These are all titles I have held at some point in my grade school career. Titles that would not have been possible if my parents had not made the decision to homeschool me and my sisters. 

Although I knew it existed, until I got to college, I had never personally encountered the argument that homeschoolers do not achieve proper social skills because of their style of education. For the majority of my life I had only come across those who had recognized the vast benefits of homeschooling. It was intriguing to me to see that the pervasive myth of homeschoolers receiving improper socialization was present even among my peers. 

After examining this issue from various viewpoints, I have come to the following conclusions; when used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills, diverse relationships, and extensive social interactions. Today, I hope to persuade you likewise.

When used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills because the definition of social skills is misunderstood by mainstream society and because when used properly, homeschooling teaches all necessary social skills.

Instead of immediately questioning if homeschoolers have necessary social skills, question if you understand what necessary social skills are. According to, the definition of social skills is; “The personal skills needed for successful social communication and interaction.”

In a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, “[Stephen] Elliott [and] Frank Gresham identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country”. The skills are:
1. Listen to others
2. Follow the steps
3. Follow the rules
4. Ignore distractions
5. Ask for help
6. Take turns when you talk
7. Get along with others
8. Stay calm with others
9. Be responsible for your behavior
10. Do nice things for others

Parents are indeed concerned with socialization. In a survey of 31 homeschooling parents and students roughly half said that socialization was of either high or very high importance to them. The results did not vary much when student and parent results were separated.

Students have the opportunity to work directly with their parent who can more easily monitor their behavior and help shape it in their early formative years. As the students grow older, these skills are broadened by their interactions with other people. Because students have the ability to work one-on-one with parents, skills can be sharpened and weaknesses are able to be strengthened.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what proper social skills are, we can take a look at the social relationships homeschooling can offer students.

When used properly, homeschooling provides diverse social relationships because homeschoolers grow up in diverse families and because homeschoolers are exposed to a variety of demographics
I have met homeschooled students from different religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. Families with members who have different gender identifications, different races within the family, and families with members who had various learning challenges or health issues. In the same way that public or privately schooled students come from unique backgrounds, homeschoolers are not all cut from the same cloth.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2011-2012 report on education in the United States, 32% of home-educated students were in a minority group and 20% of all home-educating families were considered poor.

93% of my in-class survey participants said that they were friends with students from different schooling backgrounds than theirs. Interestingly enough, 94% of the homeschoolers who responded said that they are friends with public or private schooled students as well.

In a survey, one homeschooling parent listed questions they kept in mind when thinking of necessary social skills,
 “Can my child converse with those he or she comes in contact with in a clear and understandable way? Are they able to speak with the appropriate vocabulary depending on the age of the person they are speaking with? Are they able to make and maintain eye contact with those they are speaking? Are they able to engage in meaningful conversation with all ages and demographics they come in contact with?”
This parent is not only concerned with making sure their student is exposed to a variety of demographics, they have considered the skills their student will need to master such interactions.

Another parent’s response was, “My children participate in swimming for 3 hours a day with other children their own age who are homeschooled and public school children. They also participate in Band and Choir with same age children. When in high school they take dual enrollment college courses. They also volunteer in church with people of all ages. So they socialize with people of different ages in a variety of activities.”

Social skills are seldom selected as a point of strife for students in public school systems. Yet while a public or privately schooled students spends approximately 6 hours a day inside of a school, homeschoolers are able to participate in activities outside of their home at any time they choose.

Personally, I have done my schoolwork everywhere from doctors’ offices to car inspection lines. Because I could take my schoolwork with me, I was able to meet more people and see more situations than I might have elsewise. Homeschool support groups I have participated in would go to nursing homes or assisted living homes to sing Christmas carols or hand out Valentine’s Day cards. Because of my involvement with 4H, I was selected as a teen leader for a day camp where I helped master gardeners teach urban children all about where their food comes from.

We have discovered the diverse social relationships a homeschooler may encounter, it is now time to examine their social interactions.

When used properly, homeschooling provides extensive social interactions because homeschoolers have regular scholastic social interactions and because homeschoolers participate in extra-curricular activities.

 In his article “Revisiting Common Myths about Homeschoolers”, Michael Romanowski stated that “On the average, homeschooled students are involved in 5.2 activities outside the home, with 98 percent engaged in two or more.”

Out of the 8 homeschoolers whose classwork was confined to their home only, 7 of them still participated in activities outside the home on a weekly basis. These included Civil Air Patrol, band, sports teams, and classes with other students.

As you can see from the photos, homeschoolers are able to participate in a multitude of extracurricular activities. Everything from working with animals to being in a circus, running a 5K to being a beekeeper, and even going to prom or senior banquets.

According to my survey of homeschoolers, extracurricular activities they participate in include: 4H, dance, volunteer work, field trips, parties, scouts, Taekwondo, gymnastics, music lessons, and hanging out with friends.

Homeschoolers have even tackled the internet. Let’s watch a clip from the highly successful YouTube channel “Blimey Cow” as Jordan busts a few homeschooling myths.

In review, I have shown you why, when used properly, homeschooling provides proper social skills, diverse relationships, and extensive social interactions. Now, this is not to say that every single homeschooled student will display all ten skills at all times, and this is not to say that every homeschooled student will receive enough diverse socialization for them to not be individually labeled as socially awkward or unsure. However, as I hope I have shown you, these students are rare and should be considered outliers. The majority of homeschooling students are active members of their community. 

As one mother told me just recently, “Socialization? I am too busy driving my children from ballet to archery to 4-H to be able to focus on socialization.”

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