Life Learning - Canadian Home-Based Learning Resources


A Short History of The Homeschool Movement in Canada

Beyond School by Wendy Priesnitz

Challenging Assumptions in Education

Don't Worry About Socialization

by Wendy Priesnitz

One of the main concerns home educators hear about their home-based learning choice involves socialization. But, in reality, socialization is one of the many reasons families choose life learning! They cite the bullying and other negative socialization that happens in schools, and they observe how wonderfully well socialized life learners are.

When we think about socialization, we need to consider quality as well as quantity. How much social interaction do children actually require? What is the quality of the socialization at school compared to what is available outside of school? Do speaking and other social skills get as much attention as listening skills? What does "socialization" actually mean?

Life for children in school is public. They have virtually no time or space to which adults can be denied access. Children who find psychological privacy by daydreaming are labeled as inattentive or disinterested. On the other hand, life for home-educated children - even ones without siblings or whose parents use curriculum to help them learn - is a mixture of personal and shared time, which allows them to get to know themselves, at the same time as they learn to value, yet be discriminating about, the time spent with others.

My observation of thousands of home educated children over the past 40+ years suggests that another factor outweighs any kind of peer or sibling interaction in its influence on social development. Feelings of security and self confidence are created in children who have the freedom to venture into sophisticated social situations at their own speed. This positive self concept is nurtured by warm, loving interaction with parents who respect their children. As the main ingredients in a child's social development, these even outweigh the contribution of continued social contact in creating a child who functions well in society.

These observations are reinforced by developmental and social psychologist Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University, who has spent many years studying children in various societies. He has noted that over-exposure to a peer group during a child's early years can be damaging and has found that until the fifth or sixth grade level, children who spend more time with their peers than with their parents or older family members become peer dependent. This, he claims, leads to a loss of self worth, optimism, respect for their parents and trust in their peers.

At any rate, even unschooled children with no siblings often have much more contact with a wider variety of people than they would if they were in school. They interact on a personal basis with people in the community from all walks of life, with the result that they learn about the adult world without losing any sense of the child world. Because they're not segregated in a school building all day, their lives can be full and integrated into all aspects of community life.

Wendy Priesnitz is the editor of this website and has been a Canadian home-based education advocate since the 1970s. She is also the editor of Life Learning Magazine, and author of School Free - The Homeschooling Handbook, Challenging Assumptions in Education, and Beyond School: Living As If School Doesn't Exist, as well as the editor of an anthology of articles from Life Learning Magazine called Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier. Learn more about her books here.

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Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier 

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