Many people ask why homeschoolers are socially awkward. After all, they do things so differently to mainstream children. In the article below, I go through several different reasons why I think they are different from the norm. However, I also point out why being different isn’t always a bad thing.
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Are Homeschoolers Socially Awkward?
Are homeschoolers socially awkward or is this a perception fuelled by society in a bubble? Most parents send their children to school, therefore creating a society with its own culture.
To a certain extent, homeschoolers are very awkward. They typically do things differently to schoolchildren and the appearance is stark. Many can self-motivate themselves to do book-work. They like their parents and siblings a lot and would even be happy to see a movie with them. They like talking to young or old people as much as people their own age. They think outside-the-box. Many are uncommonly pleasant and intelligent when it comes to current affairs and ethical issues.
In short, homeschool socialization is completely different from school socialization and sometimes refreshingly agreeable!
Why Are Homeschoolers Socially Awkward?
Assuming homeschoolers are socially awkward, the question that remains is, ‘Why?’
After observing many homeschooling parents, I believe this is because of a number of reasons. I will outline some of these below.
Reason 1: Different Role Models
A schoolchild’s strongest role models are peers and teachers as well as parents. All these role models influence a child’s character. Therefore, if a role model is good, children often turn out well. If not, they can turn out badly.
A teacher can be a good role model or a bad one. It really depends on the teacher to which a student is allocated. Peers are similar; however, peers don’t have to abide by a set of ethics and often exhibit undesirable behaviours. Furthermore, peers often expect that children will conform to their way of doing things if they want to fit into the group. This can work well if it’s positive peer pressure, but if it is negative peer pressure, it can be a disaster.
In contrast, a homeschooler’s main influence is his or her parents. Although a parent can be a bad influence, generally parents have their children’s best interests at heart and go above and beyond the duty to which a teacher commits. This means homeschoolers have dedicated educators who generally love them more than a paid school teacher. (Indeed, as amazing as many teachers are, they will rarely match the love parents can give their children.)
Reason 2: They Consume Different Media
Role models are present in a number of places, and one prominent place we see them is through the media. While not everything on television or online is bad, a lot of it is trash. Children left to themselves tend to gorge themselves on entertaining popular culture, often absorbing unhelpful ideas (i.e. body image ideals, meaningless narratives, and pure gossip) along the way.
Children that are lovingly steered towards more wholesome pursuits (including positive media choices) are happier and more fulfilled as they find meaning in more directed pursuits. Homeschoolers often make up this second group and therefore tend to avoid bad role models more frequently.
Because they consume different media, homeschoolers are socially awkward in that they often don’t know what is happening in popular culture. But, is that a bad thing?
Reason 3: They’re Exposed to a Wider Variety of People
Schoolchildren are encouraged to spend most of their school time with peers the same age as themselves. Because schools are usually on a physical campus, most students come from a catchment directly around their school. This means there isn’t always a big variety of ethnicities or social groups. If you come from a rich area with predominately white people, you’ll tend to go to school with rich, white people. If you come from a poor area with many migrant refugees, you’ll tend to go to school with poor, migrant refugees.
If you homeschool, you have the opportunity to go to art classes in the community with people of different ages and backgrounds. If you go to a homeschooling group, you’ll tend to find there are many families with babies or older teenagers. You can play community sport with a different set of people.
As such, a homeschooler has more of an opportunity to learn how to speak to people of all ages and often all ethnicities.
Reason 4: They Follow Their Parents More
Homeschoolers tend to follow their parents more than schoolchildren. This means they often spend more time listening to their parent’s wisdom and less time listening to their peers.
The Gen2 study (pg. 13) reveals homeschoolers have very similar beliefs to their parents. It also reveals that schoolchildren don’t show similar beliefs to parents to the same extent that homeschoolers do. If your homeschooled, the apple falls very close to the tree.
Reason 5: Many Are Christians
Although homeschooling is increasingly attracting new-age people, anti-establishmentarian types, and parents with special needs children, it attracts a lot of Christians. This is because many of these parents realize school isn’t having as positive an influence on their children as they had hoped. In fact, they see their children’s attitudes changing for the worse. They might also have observed bullying or other negative aspects of school culture.
So, Christian parents choose to homeschool. As home educators have a stronger influence on their children compared to school, many of these children grow up with Christian beliefs and Christian characters. The heart of a Christians character should be love – a reflection of the love that Jesus showed to us on the cross. Hence, many homeschoolers look different because they have the best example of all, which is Christ Jesus.
Conclusion: Why Are Homeschoolers Socially Awkward?
Almost everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling. The duckling hatches. It’s ugly and grey and appears uglier next to the cute, yellow chicks. The duckling is teased but eventually grows up to be a beautiful swan. One lesson from the story is that looks can be deceiving. Similarly, we can assume something that is awkward is a bad or ugly thing. But, is it a beautiful thing we might grow to appreciate more as we look into it further and get to know it better? What do you think?