One of the main arguments I hear against the concept of educating children at home is the idea that they will be deprived of social interaction with their peers. I’d like to explore this a bit. What is the social interaction at a typical public school really like? In truth, there are a select few that enjoy free interaction with the peers of their choice without any issues. These are usually children who come from well-off families who are well established in the community. These children have no visible ailments to set them apart from the other children and they are all a part of a social click that passes judgment over other children who do not live up to their standard of perfection. This leads to a sense of power and bullying. From there you have a hierarchy of power among the students. Now, you’d think that the adults in the school would be at the top of the this power pyramid, but you’d be wrong. Ask the children on the lowest tiers and you’ll find that the people they are most afraid of are the popular kids who are bullying them. The concept of turning their terrorists in is so frightening, that some would rather hurt themselves or not go to school at all. They believe that that the school officials are simply unable to control the behavior of these children, and for the most part, they’re right.
So who are the children at the bottom of this pyramid. Any child who has a defining physical feature, like a birthmark, stutter or limp. Children who are new to the school are a prime target. Any child who has made a mistake, (is known to have gotten in trouble for shoplifting, a girl who is rumored to have had sex) is also a target. These things don’t need to be true, they are simply excuses to bully and push a child toward the bottom of the hierarchical pyramid.
Another huge drawback to the social aspect of public schools is the fact that they limit the social interaction to children of the same age. They keep all of the children in one grade level together, while separating the grade levels from the each other. If children only learn to interact with children their own age, how will they react to children much younger than they are, or much older?
Isn’t homeschooling just as bad? It deprives a child of that social interaction completely, doesn’t it? Not necessarily. If done right, homeschooling will give a child the comfortable and stimulating environment s/he needs to learn as well as the opportunity to interact with other children.
One of my favorite homeschooling ideas is the homeschool group. Several parents come together to teach their children in a fun and productive way. The ages of the children do not matter because older children can help younger children grasp concepts in the process of learning new material. This also helps to broaden the children’s social scope and ability to interact.
Even without the group, there are many ways to bring social interaction into play. Homeschooling parents can schedule field trips to coincide with public school trips, as well as park outings. There are plenty of social clubs for children, such as Spiral Scouts, Boy/Girl Scouts, as well as many others.
When it comes down to it, the choice is either poor education and poor socialization or a proven higher quality education, and if you put the effort into it, higher quality socialization. I believe that every child is worth that effort.