When families beginning to think about homeschooling and mention it to their friends the first comment is always, "but what about socialization?" What about socialisation? None of us lock up our children and refuse to allow them outside the house. Children meet other people when their families shop, when they attend clubs or church, when they go to family gatherings. Furthermore Distance Education by correspondence is accepted as legal even in the most remote parts of Australia which it wouldnпїЅt be if socialization was really an issue.


Why this concern for socialization? Twenty years ago the concern would have been for the childпїЅs education. It is generally agreed that the standard of education has dropped over the years. It is hard to prove this because statistics have only been kept in recent times. However, when I attended school in the sixties it was unheard of for a child not to be able to read. Some children did not read as well as others, and some children did not enjoy reading as much as others but every child read. In addition no-one left primary school without knowing the basic arithmetical functions. You did not pass primary school until they were learnt. You repeated.


I can not remember ever hearing anyone commenting that homeschooled children weren't well educated. The only criticisms I have heard on this subject are of children who were kept out of school and were not being educated. This is not homeschooling. Perhaps the only possible criticism of homeschooling that people can think of is socialization. If this is the case then we are doing well.


Schools have been pushing the need for socialization for at least sixteen years now. It was beginning to be considered essential when our eldest child was still at school. Our value base as a society in general has changed dramatically. Despite equal opportunity women are valued less. Children, according to those who advertise on TV, are the prime determiners of what is bought. In other words we now have a child run society. Further more there are no absolutes. It is no longer a case of "Thou shalt not kill". Killing is now justifiable if you claim that you were abused as a child or if you can get away with it.


Since all values are fluid and can be altered by society as it suits them then it is essential that every child be able to negotiate these values from an early age. A child must be able to make their own judgements, often through negotiation. Socialization is therefore more important than education. The problem is that generally children are asked to make decisions based on inadequate knowledge. OneпїЅs peers are usually just as ignorant and can therefore not provide wise advice.


Children at home tend to mix with a wide range of ages. They have the chance to practise leadership and to learn from those older than themselves. They are not forced to mix with those with whom they have absolutely nothing in common but their age. It is only at school this happens. Adults mix with those who have common goals, whether it is at work, in clubs or friendships. If an adult is unhappy with their work, for example, then they changes jobs. If a child is unhappy with their class or school they are forced to stay there. They are also forced to socialize.


Since children who are homeschooled do not socialize the entire time meeting others is enjoyable. Generally if you walk into a homeschoolers house you will find that you will be greeted by the whole family and the children will join intelligently in the conversation. Most children at school seem to have trouble mixing with children who are not their age. The exceptions often come from large families.


Shy children will always be shy. Forcing them to socialize often makes them withdraw more. At home these children generally mix well since they feel secure although they will always prefer smaller groups. It is fortunate that not all people are outgoing. Who would listen to the social?


Homeschooling can also be advantageous for those who are naturally outgoing. At school children socialize far more than they work. At home they do not have the distraction of too many interesting people around them. Our Cindy was one of these children. She found learning easy and generally requiring minimum effort. At home she learnt work needed to be completed first. When she began TAFE she completed her work before socializing. Her socialization took the form of helping others in the class who were having trouble with the work.


Why does our society consider it so desirable for a child of four or five to leave their mother?


Is it that the children provide jobs and keep down the unemployment level especially with a rapidly declining number of births?


Or is that schools are administratively convenient ways of supplying education?


Is it too that mothers are not considered adequate to educate children despite the fact that they have already done so through five of the most important years of their lives. We live in age which provides "experts" for every conceivable job, yet the real expert, the mother, is overlooked. Most mothers know far more about their children than is recognized. They know what the child will like or not like, when the child is having difficulty and when they are misbehaving and more importantly when there are problems. Mothers will put in any amount of time necessary for their children to succeed. All most mothers lack is the confidence.


An interesting side effect of homeschooling is that children are generally healthier since they do not come into contact with so many germs. They also eat better since they can eat when they are hungry.


What about mothers? When their children are little they often miss the adult conversation. However as their children grow they find that they have friends to share the day with. I must admit that sometimes, with all the children of varying ages that come into our house, I have trouble socialising. With six children varying in age from thirty to sixteen there can be a constant stream of children or adults. Sometimes it is too much. I look forward to the quiet days and sometimes I even refuse to allow children in especially now that Jillian, sixteen, has begun gathering five or six children ranging from six to one year old. I must admit these children are very easy to manage. If they argue I tell them that if they donпїЅt stop I wonпїЅt allow Jillian to play. It works like a charm. Jillian I might add has never been to school.


So, is socialization important? No. Unless you live on a desert island you and your children will naturally meet a variety of people. The difference is that you choose the time and the place.