Homeschool Confession: I don’t want my boys to be “Socialized”

Today, I’m joining iHomeschool Network in a discussion about the “s” word–socialization.

Serving Joyfully | Why I don't want my boys to be socialized.

I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable about the words “socialized” and “socialization.” It just seems so institutional to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it exactly.

Socialization desires conformity.

Recently, I decided to look up the meaning. This is one of the definitions given at

the modification from infancy of an individual’s behavior to conform with the
demands of social life.

And this definition put into words exactly what had been bothering me. Socialization is all about conforming. It’s about conforming to societal demands, attitudes, styles, values, beliefs, and ways of dressing, acting, and thinking.

“Socialization” puts my child in a room full of 25 other children who are exactly his same age, something that doesn’t organically happen in any other walk of life, and tells him that he needs to act just like them.

In this typical setting, no deviance from the norm is accepted and children can be so cruel about the silliest things. I read an amazing article about this recently, “Why are Homeschooled children so weird and annoying?” and I would highly recommend it.

Socialization is about the system

Socialization’s very aim is to break us from any and all individuality, so that we can better integrate into the system–even if it’s a broken system.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but socialization is meant to make “good little boys and girls,” who will grow up and integrate into the system. Say the right things. Do the right things. Don’t ask any questions.

For more information about this, see the text of a speech given by John Gatto, his acceptance of a Teacher of the Year award in New York. It is an amazing and profound look at our education system. Here is a quote from him about this:

 Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behaviour can be predicted and controlled.

And that is “socialization.” No, I actually don’t want the individuality beat out of my children, thank-you-very-much.

We don’t want them socialized–taught to conform–to a world where our values are undermined and ridiculed constantly. We don’t want them conforming to a world that is so completely broken by sin.

Do not be Conformed

God’s word tells us:  “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). It’s not a matter of public school verses homeschool. Even if our children did go to public school, we would fight every single day to keep them from being “socialized.”

Authentic Community & Fellowship

Are you picturing that we must live in the backwoods somewhere only coming out a couple times a year? That’s not the case. We have plenty of interaction. We just try to do it differently. What we seek for ourselves and our children is authentic community and Christian fellowship. We maintain organic relationships.

You know, like the kind we have in real life.

Socialization values the system. Fellowship values the individuals within the community. Socialization forces my child to change and conform, while fellowship appreciates who he is.

And that’s what we want for our children.  Our interactions are fluid and organic. They are based in real life.  If you’d like to read more about some of these fluid, orgainic, real life interactions, click over and read about this poor woman who never has time to socialize her kids.

One post could never be enough to discuss all of the issues. I could have written other posts focusing entirely on bullying, and/or the fact that socialization also includes negative things like bad habits and attitudes.

And for us? Well, hopefully we’ll be as unsocialized as possible.


This post is just one of many from iHomeschool Networks “Homeschooling & the S-Word” Blog Hop. Head over there to read lots of great posts from the other iHomeschool Network members, all about socialization!


What are your thoughts on homeschoolers and socialization?


  1. says

    Yes there is a socialization issue with homeschooling. But who cares? ‘Social Cues’ that our kids won’t know because they aren’t with their peer groups who can pick up on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ related to their particular school and such all goes away when they get to college and grow up. As long as you teach your kids to communicate and to carry themselves in a manner that they are comfortable, they will adjust to any environment they are put in. But to say that a homeschooled kid that’s never been in a traditional school setting would walk in and know the ‘who’, the ‘what is’ and the ‘where do I fit in’ isn’t realistic – but, would any ‘new’ student know that?

  2. says

    My sister in law homeschooled her 2 girls and they are bright, well-rounded outgoing girls. I do what I call co-schooling and work very closely with my son’s school and teachers. A teacher told me the other day, “He seems to see things through different eyes than the other children.” Ha! I told her it’s true and gave her some ideas to work with him. I don’t want them to change him, only to see how to best work with him. For him, he’s already very different and being in public school in a small town gives him a chance to practice life skills and interaction with all kinds of people, people we see in all other facets of our lives. For him, I think it will help prepare him for his adult life. I don’t think of it as socialization at all, but life practice. If we were in a big city or if he was a different kind of kid, I would look more closely toward homeschooling but I have to say, for us, this works. Very interesting, thoughtful post. Thank you!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Glad your sister-in-law has had a good experience homeschooling, and that you are a hands-on, engaged parent in public schooling. That is so very important :)

        • Crystal Brothers says

          I completely agree! Even if kids are in public school, parents need to be involved in those things. I agree that a part of the problem is that they are not.

  3. says

    One of my daughter’s best friends was home-schooled. When she was in the Governor’s School for the Arts a few years ago (a summer program supporting the Arts in KY), they were divided into groups for an icebreaker activity. The instructor told them different unique things about the kids in the groups (one unique thing was that a student had been home-schooled), without names, and told them to guess who was what. Ellen’s friend was the LAST one they would have picked to be home-schooled. The one they picked to BE home-schooled had been in public schools all her life. Sydney is now studying musical theatre at Oklahoma City University.

    Personally, I don’t think public schools do much socialization anymore. At least not the way I look at socialiaztion – which is teaching kids to be kind to one another, to love one another, to help one another, to do their best and excel. But it’s not so much the schools as the homes they come from, unfortunately. If I had young children now, I would STRONGLY consider home-schooling them. Sometimes I wish I had, looking back, but at the time I still had hope that the system would work for them like it did for me.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Wow, Regina, what an interesting story! Thank you so much for sharing :)

      And, I completely agree with you that public schools don’t seem to do much nowadays in terms of the positive aspects of socialization. Those are the things we want our children to learn as well. And, yes, I agree that it’s the homes that children come from. So many sad situations.

  4. says

    Our boys started out in public school in Texas. When the oldest was in 2nd grade and the younger was in 1st, we began homeschooling after one of the boys was attacked by 4 same-age classmates on the playground at recess, when teachers werae supposed to be keeping an eye on things.

    After we moved to Kentucky, we tried public school again for a while, mostly to appease the in-laws. When our oldest corrected his teacher on the word “lahar”, and objected to disecting some kind of living creature for a science lesson, we were called into the principal’s office with like six administrators/teachers and a stack of big books containing the Kentucky Educational Code.

    We did not want our children to grow up afraid to express their opinion if it did not fit the norm, or to back down when they know they are right…and it did not seem their needs were being met in public school. (I know every family is different and most people’s experience with public school is better than ours was.)

    Our boys are 15 and 16 now, and have been exclusively homeschooled for several years now. Our daughter, 10, has always been homeschooled.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      LuAnn, I’m so sorry for your public school experiences :( Yes, I could have written an entire post on bullying alone. So sad, and it seems to be escalating and completely out of control these days. So glad that they are thriving while homeschooled.

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing the definition of socialization. I don’t think I’ve ever read that and I definitely don’t like the sound of it! One thing I’ve noticed, properly “socialized” kids are exposed to things they should never be exposed to and are robbed of innocence that never should be threatened at such a young age. When you add to it that their imagination and creativity is stunted by being expected to think and act like everyone else from the time they’re babies, suddenly “socialization” looks like a very scary thing!

    Awesome post!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Tanya, there are actually several definitions and that was just the one that finally helped me put words to my misgivings :) And, I completely agree that socialization exposes children to things they shouldn’t be exposed to at a young age. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • says

      I’ll have to leave a polite rebuttal to this^^ I was raised in a sheltered conservative secular enviroment. Go figure. Went to public school. I wasn’t allowed to see or do a lot of things. Was kept “innocent” for a long time.

      Then I got on my own. Went into the real world. My innocence about killed me (figuratively). I couldn’t believe just how mean the world was, or how many jerky guys there were! I actually wish I had lost my innocence a long time ago, as that would’ve prepared me for the high school-like environment that’s where I’m living now.

      I think conformity can be a very good thing. Nonconformity is best exercised in the house, while conformity is how you survive in the long run. As in learning street talk, headgames people play, and growing a thick skin to contend with those who threaten you in the real world.

  6. Colleen Hayden says

    It has been put on my heart to start homeschooling my 3 yr old. And trying to express to family of why when they ask has been very difficult. What you have written will really help me express whats in my heart. Thank you.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I understand! It has mostly been family members who express negative ideas about it to us as well. But the numbers are impossible to argue with as far as homeschooling being good for kids.

  7. says

    When I took Cultural Anthropology in College in 1987 we learned that socialization was the process for transferring the values, norms of etiquette, folklore and such of the society to the younger generation. When we began to homeschool in 1994 I heard a lot about “But aren’t you worried about socialization?” Nope! We the parents are completely capable of socializing our own children and passing on to them our values, etc. We would tell people that we didn’t want our children “socialized” by their peers, who may or may not come from homes with the same values and norms as us. Now that three of our five children are adults and on their own, with the two youngest almost there, we can see the fruits of our efforts. Our children have turned out to be wonderful! They still have an intellectual curiosity about the world around them, they have a good work ethic, they are honest in their dealings with others, they volunteer, are politically active, courteous and thoughtful of others, and they are fun to be with, moral and virtuous. What more could parents ask for? (They aren’t perfect, but we’re pleased with how they have turned out.) Too many parents leave the raising of their children to the schools where the socialization is negative and destructive. The nation is at risk because of all of that. We thank God for all the homeschoolers (as well as many other conscientious parents) who will be lights to others and a blessing to this nation.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Yes, this is so true, Rozy! It is the process of transferring values, etc. And we know that this culture as a whole doesn’t have the values that we want to be transferred to our children! Thanks for sharing your success story!

  8. Jaci says

    I don’t homeschool my kids though I do agree that it can be a wonderful option for many families. I truly understand the dislike of the “s” word in this sense and agree with you, but only so far as you have define socialization. If your definition of socailization is to require a child to conform to a system whether or not that system is right or wrong then yes i’m against it! But being a speech therapist I teach socialization to children that don’t pick it up naturally. The definition I prefer for it is: a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
    You will notice it’s person first. or person centered. and it says “learns
    the norms not conforms to the norms. To me there is a HUGE difference. If you don’t like the norms of the educational institutions that you have available to you then by all means dont try to get your child to learn them and definetly dont insist they conform to them! In my opinion socialization of homeschoolers isnt really an issue anymore but true socialization of children is. So many kids today don’t understand how to be polite or considerate or thoughtful. It’s all a focus on being PC. Which just means that if you are offended enough to throw a fit you get your way. Too many kids are taught that its ok to do whatever you want b/c you were born that way so you throw a fit and get your way and it’s ok because you can’t help it. There is no regard for or values or behavioral consideration anymore. Well all I can say is we were all born un-potty trained but we fixed that didnt we?!
    Just my 2 cents

  9. says

    thank you for this post! My husband and I continue to debate whether to homeschool and this is one of his counterarguments “But he needs to be socialized”. I’ve struggled with how to explain that schools don’t teach sozializing anymore and your post says it all so well.

    I work in a public school system in an urban sized school district. There is such a shift towared “teaching to the (standardized) tests” that schools no longer have time to teach lessons in manners, courtesy, civil responsibility, or social graces such as how to introduce someone or how to shake hands. THESE THINGS are how we socialize adn they are not taught in the schools anymore.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      That is so true, Jill! Be sure and check out some of the other posts from the iHomeschool Network on this–many of them chose to focus on the ways that they are socializing their children through homeschooling. There are just so many opportunities for interaction :)

  10. Gord says

    As a socializing high school English teacher there are MANY things I disagree with in this.

    First off you say ““Socialization” puts my child in a room full of 25 other children who are exactly his same age, something that doesn’t organically happen in any other walk of life, and tells him that he needs to act just like them.”

    That’s not true at all. Sign your 8 year old up for a sport or Boy Scouts/Girl Guides and see where they are placed.
    There’s a reason kids are grouped together at that age… because if a 6 year old was in a room of 12 year olds how much confidence would the 6 year old have not have answers or being dominated by the 12 year old kids?
    Even in the adult world there are examples of age segregation. My wife works for an oil company in Alberta as a communicator. There are a bunch of junior communicators there that support my wife and the rest of the communications staff. ALL are just out of university and range in age from 22 to 25. There’s a reason… they lack experience. There are no 30 or older junior communications staff.
    Look at ones social circle in life… most people who are 35 don’t hang out with 70 year olds (beyond family)… you tend to stick to people you have things in common with. I, as a parent of a 2 year old, don’t have much in common with a 70 year old… I tend to hang out with people more my age.

    Another thing I find funny is how many positive home schooling experiences there have been here! It kind of blows my mind. As an educator of over four years at a K to 12 school with just 200 students (and I taught high school with 60 or so students in grades 9 to 12) I have taught 7 students that went from homeschooling to a classroom setting. And all but one had difficulties.

    Academically they were far behind because their parents lack the proper training to follow and administer the curriculum. They were strong in certain areas, mainly where their parents were strong themselves, but were many grades behind in almost all other areas. In fact 5 of the 7 tried to get their GED several times and failed multiple times so they came back to a traditional classroom setting for help. It’s OK when you’re doing basics but how does a parent teach Grade 12 physics or high level accounting PLUS Shakespeare etc. to their kids? Can it be done? I’m sure some can… but in my 38 years I’ve never met that person.

    Socially they were also behind because the only interactions they had with other kids their age was in sports (which, again, counters your point about 25 kids being in the same room which is something that doesn’t organically happen in any other walk of life) so they didn’t know how to behave as far as not talking, staying off their cell phone to even handing the work in on time. Those are all social behaviors that they lacked but will need to function as adults. Unless people are independently wealthy, an education is a key to a good job but maintaining that job relies on socialization and norms accepted by most people.

    Now I know your point is going to be “They have to all behave the same way!” because you say “In this typical setting, no deviance from the norm is accepted” but, realistically, in life it’s true. Especially when people get into the real world. You can’t just show up for work when you want. You can’t just hand in your work at your convenience. Socialization teaches young people survival skills because what happens when your son shows up for work late too often? Or doesn’t have the work for the boss when the boss has a presentation to give?

    Regarding your comment ” can be so cruel about the silliest things” yeah, bullying is a horrible thing and I wish it could be eradicated but sadly it’s a fact. As both a bully and someone who was bullied I have seen both sides and as a teacher I’ve seen it again from the perspective of an educator too. While I’m in no way, shape or form condoning bullying, it is something that people do. And you’re right, kids can be cruel… but so can adults. What is your child going to do when they run into a bully when they are older? How will they react? Have you prepared them? By encountering it you can take those bad situations and turn them into learning opportunities on dealing with a bully that can serve your child when they get older and mom and dad aren’t there to hold their hands.

    You said “We maintain organic relationships. You know, like the kind we have in real life.” This isn’t necessarily true either. I work with many people that I wouldn’t socialize with or hang out with on the weekends because I have to. \there’s nothing organic about it but we make it work for the good of our job, our students and our families. Socialization and being taught it in school helped me with dealing with people I wouldn’t normally deal with.

    ” socialization is meant to make “good little boys and girls,” who will grow up and integrate into the system. Say the right things. Do the right things.” YES! It’s called life. If your little boy doesn’t say the right thing to his boss, guess what? You’ll have a kid moving back home because he can’t keep a job.

    Where I think we need improvements is in classroom size. I do actually agree with parts of what you say but don’t think homeschooling is the answer. More money needs to be invested in classrooms because when a teacher has 35 kids to deal with, you’re right, there isn’t the room for individuality… the teacher has to ensure the majority get serviced. In smaller classrooms with fewer kids there is more room for individuality, diversification and questioning. I also think it’s on the teachers to encourage that. As a teacher I LOVE it when my students argue with me and make solid points I may not agree with… but I sure wouldn’t penalize them for making. I also appreciate other beliefs. When I was in high school my grade 11 history teacher tasked me with debating that Adolf Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy and actually did some good for Germany. Now, in reality he was a horrible monster, but my teacher knew I would be able to question the other students and make my points (he commissioned the Volkswagen Beetle, built the highway system, got Germany out of the depression before any other country etc.) well enough and he gave me the latitude to do it. BUT there were only 12 students in that particular class so the teacher wasn’t overburdened.

    Anyway, just my two cents as an educator who has seen both sides.

    • says

      Wow, Gord, you have had experiences that run contrary to mine all the years I’ve been an educator. I’ve found that homeschoolers (and I’ve known hundreds of them in the 24 years I’ve been homeschooling plus in the years I was a public school teacher) are much better equipped to deal with ANY age grouping. Their life experience is with children of varying ages, so they learn how to be social in their play as well as be responsible in caring for younger children’s needs.

      Yes, there are a small handful of homeschool parents who do NOT work diligently to prepare their children for academic success in college and life, but they are few and far between compared to the overwhelming majority who labor hard and long to make their children well-prepared for life.

      Yes, there are areas in our lives that tend toward age grouping, but possibly not as many as you may think. Work is certainly a large part of the adult life and that is grouped more by ability or types of skill rather than age. I am glad that my children (and I have 8 of them from age 12 to 27) are able to comfortably handle themselves in like-aged groups as well as age-diverse groups. They are equally at home talking with adults or playing with children years younger than themselves.

      I would like to say this (and please know I am NOT accusing you of this at all), when I was a young teacher in the public school system (and long before homeschooling was much in vogue) I picked up a very negative attitude toward homeschooling from my fellow teachers. The one family in our town who homeschooled, actually kept their children home to help tend and harvest their illegal marijuana crop! It was a hippie-thing in the minds of all the teachers around me and I assumed this was what homeschooling was all about. I learned how wrong I was years later.

      Yes, here are those who give homeschoolers a bad name (my eldest daughter encountered one of those in her college career and it drove her NUTS). But there are also public schoolers that I’m sure make you cringe whenever you hear them speak on any subject at all!

      The fact that homeschooling has been such a hard fought freedom has required that the bulk of homeschool parents work harder and are often given less credit than their public school counterparts. I hope that you will not take the few students you have come across in your short educational experience as the STANDARD of homeschoolers. If you do, then I know in years to come you will be pleasantly surprised as you begin to see much greater strength and maturity than you have heretofore known.


      • says

        I am a homeschool mom. We started homeschooling when our daughter (now a senior) was going into 5th grade and my son was going into 2nd grade. I too agree that Gord’s experiences with homeschool kids having difficulty integrating into the classroom were not the norm. I know of a number of previously homeschooled kids who have integrated into the classroom without any issues. I’ve observed that most of the time the homeschool kids were bored because they were farther along than the kids in the classroom.

        It also makes sense that some of the homeschool kids, when attending the classroom, would be behind in some subjects. As a homeschool mom, I have felt no pressure to make sure my kids are on a learning schedule consistent with traditionally schooled kids. For example, my daughter didn’t do math for a couple of years. But she did do 3 years of math in one year to be prepared for college admissions and the SAT. Even before she was “caught up” in math, her SAT scores were sufficient to meet the admissions’ requirements of several colleges/universities and has also received an $8000 scholarship before applying to the college. Oh yeah, we never did science before high school, but in middle school my daughter scored in the top 5% in science on a standardized state test. Also, before high school, we did not use text books based curriculum. My kids have always read – lots of classics.

        An anecdote about homeschooled kids: A large group of us “homeschoolers” went out for frozen yogurt. There were at least 14 kids, ranging from from early elementary to middle school. After everyone had ordered and were enjoying their yogurts, a customer, whom I did not know, asked who we were. I explained we were a homeschool group out for some yogurt. She replied that she thought the kids must be homeschooled because they were so well behaved.

        Thanks for allowing me to share some of our homeschooling experiences.

  11. says

    God created us to be social beings! (It is not good for man to be alone…be fruitful and multiply!) As Christians, we are not of this world, so any alien is gonna be weird to the rest of the world! I choose to be weird for God and I hope my kids are, too.

  12. says

    Public education was originally conceived as a means of instilling conformity and obedience to the state in children. This I believe has not changed over time. This is the reason why so many political and financial elites send their children to private schools while blocking school voucher programs (that would allow average citizens this option) at every turn.

  13. says

    Public education was originally conceived as a means of instilling conformity and obedience to the state in children. This I believe has not changed over time. This is the reason why so many political and financial elites send their children to private schools while blocking school voucher programs (that would allow average citizens this option) at every turn.

    • says

      Public education was originally concieved of as a way to get the whole nation educated because not all parents 300 years were able to do it. The Founding Fathers made education a right. Every state needs a certain amount of conformity and obedience, or there’d be anarachy. If you need reassurance of US non-conformity, just find all the people wearing nose rings and who dye their hair XD

  14. Carol M. Alesia says

    If "socialization" means having your children learn to wear their jeans belted around their thighs, listening to rap, wearing provocative clothing, dancing promiscuously, talking back to their parents, having no respect for any authority or other people's property, having no work ethic and dropping out of school, I don't blame parents for homeschooling their children. At least they will learn how to read, compute figures, appreciate education and be respectful of others. Any parent who is capable of homeschooling, should do so. The values of their family will be upheld and their children will be the better for it.

    *edited by admin for language content.

    • says

      Respect is learned from the parents. In Korea the adults don’t respect the foreigners. So the kids don’t respect us. Which makes our job teaching ESL very very hard >_<

  15. says

    Fabulous!!! This is exactly my sentiment and you have encapsulated perfectly. Yes, socialisation contributes to so many problems in this world that it certainly is not desirable. Thank you!

  16. says

    AMEN AMEN AMEN I once read somewhere a mother said " I thought school was to get educated not to have friends or worry about popularity" I remember school, it was boring and I hated waiting for all the other kids to "get it", and not only that but I don't do well with "politics" homeschooling would've been great for me if I had the opportunity. At least with my kids I don't have to worry about who they are being exposed to and what those kids are being exposed to at their homes and bringing to school. I can't keep them in a bubble forever, but I can sure try to make sure they know the difference between right and wrong-biblically speaking-before they are really ready to see what the world is made of.

  17. says

    Yes social interaction is always thrown out there. I guess its a legitimate concern, that some kids may be quite isolated, though its equally a concern the amount of kids that get isolated within the school system, either because it doesn't relate enough to who they really are, or because they get so little opportunity to be true to themselves they loose connection with what that means, or because they are bullied or experience negative social interaction. So there is no moral highground for schools on this issue. We were lucky to live in an area with a lot of HE families and meet up regularly. It depends a lot on the child also. My child is by nature interactive, chatty, seeks company, although he concentrates on study better on his own. He also attended a few years at School, the experience both provided social interaction at times though also bullying and isolation at other times. The fact that the child is given no power over this within the school environment is the damaging factor. Yes, we will meet with bullies in real life, though we are free to walk away or to do more about it. In school you are at the mercy of those in authority, and I have been shocked by the lack of skills or willingness to support both the children bullying and the children bullied at school. I am hoping there is progress being made on this issue within the school system. When it comes to teenage years, it feels worse, the isolation that occurs within social groups at schools if you are not being what is seen as cool. I call it the crool factor. I think it partly stems from the lack of autonomy experienced by teens throughout their lives.

  18. says

    I so agree with all of the comments for home schooling and your article. My son is now 14 and an 8th grader. I was kind of like the one who said that they co-school. I did that while my son was in public school throughout elementary, as I was at the school and involved as much as possible.

    We have only been home schooling since 6th grade, about 2 years now. We primarily did it because we bought a motor home and started travelling the country. However I was considering home schooling for a while and I knew that I could sometimes do a better job than the teachers–because of the fact that they have to spend about 1/3 to half of class time correcting bad behavior! We actually did online school for the first term of 6th grade and it happened there too. So I don’t have a great opinion about “socialization”.

    So now we just use material that he and I choose together. In fact that’s part of the beauty of it. He is involved in his education and therefore has more motivation to do well. I teach by subject and at his own pace, while still looking to the grade level standard of what we are supposed to cover. He is doing so well in all of his subjects and is totally engaged in his learning! Of course, I also use the services of tutors when the subject (like math) is beyond me.

    We get “socialization” through sports groups (baseball and hockey camps) youth groups and just meeting and talking with people of all ages as we travel. He is not afraid to talk to any age and can hold his own in any conversation. I asked him recently if he misses having friends and wanted to go back to public school and he says no he likes home schooling! Thanks for the post and your time.

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