What about Socialization?

6 little kids playing tug of war

This is my favorite question.  Not really, but it’s probably the most common question asked of homeschoolers.  I do understand the question, because yes, my kids do all of their primary education at my dining room table.  For the sake of this comparison, I’m going to pretend we operate during a standard 40 hour work week, though for many, this is not the case.  

For approximately 2 hours per day, 3-5 days per week, I follow a curriculum and teach my children the primary subjects.  Often, they do their work with several other children because it’s a lot more fun to play board games and do science experiments with a group, so I have a few families we work closely with.  So, even at our most boring, my two children are often working with 2-4 others.  

Let’s just take a moment of reflection about that – if you had a private school nearby that was priced right with a class size of 2-6 students, would you really be questioning the socialization?  I digress…

After we account for our approximately 10 hours per week of direct instruction, private tutoring if you will, that leaves another 30 hours of time to kill.  For us, Camp HSR! offers a Tuesday School program that runs 24 weeks out of the year. This is a full day of classes for children aged 3-14 on a variety of topics.  The maximum class size is 15 students, and we have approximately 60 students that come each week. They have 15 minute breaks between classes and 1 hour for lunch. The classes are primarily held outdoors and curriculum is specifically written so that they are not doing book/worksheet work, but interacting, moving around, and some may say, socializing.  Supplemental work that would be more quiet is sent home. I would describe this day as full socializing, focused on team building activities with a direct educational objective.    

During the rest of the week, Homeschool Rocks! hosts roughly 3-5 events per week, including art, science, history, and PE classes; homeschool fairs; playdates; field trips; and various clubs.  My family attends most of these, but of course, not everyone does. For the other folks, there are numerous other co-ops hosting field trips and playdates, and cooperatively learning. There is also a huge variety of educational programs around.  In Lee and Collier County alone, we have two children’s museums, a zoo, a botanical garden, countless theatre programs, museums, historical societies, and so much more; all offering homeschool classes as part of their usual programming. Naturally, in addition to all of the options, people plan their own events and spend time with friends and families close to them.  Homeschool Rocks! has more than 1,000 members alone, and that is not even close to being every homeschool family around. This is a huge community of students of all ages. Our Tuesday School program alone is bigger than some private schools out there.  

So, that was a lot of information, but the bottom line is, we aren’t sitting at home alone.  Homeschooling is not a solo sport or a lonely endeavor. Most of us actually relish the days we don’t have plans to leave the house.  If I had to put a pin on it, I would say my children have a class of about 30 kids they see several times per week. These are kids of all ages, the benefits of which is a post all on it’s own.  My children receive instruction and respond to the parents in each of those families as if they are also their teacher. Besides those families with whom we are personally close, there are another 100 children mine are seeing on a regular basis and with whom they participate in activities.  

I would like to briefly compare these numbers, 30 hours per week of socializing time, with traditional school schedules.  Kids are in school 40 hours per week, give or take, which comes out to 8 hours per day. Maybe we’re talking about 5 hours per day, or 25 hours per week*, of instruction.  The kids are not socializing in class any more than we are during our instruction time. So, we’re now looking at 15 hours of “socialization” per week, assuming that’s what they’re spending their traveling time, breaks, recesses, mealtimes doing.  

*This does sound like a lot more instruction time than the 2 hours I estimated for homeschoolers, but consider the difference in class size – 2-6 students are going to be getting a lot more direct attention, questions answered, and teaching style catered to their learning style than a class of 25-35, so yes, the time to do the same thing is a lot greater.  For those of you utilizing the services of a tutor, or a private piano teacher, think of how much more productive your child is one-on-one.  

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