One of the biggest arguments against homeschooling is socialization. They claim that public or at least formal schooling is necessary for learning social skills. Oh really? Have you been to your supermarket lately? How about the mall, the discount store, restaurant or any other public place? It does not take long at any one of these places to realize that very few people have mastered basic social skills. If most children go to school and school is necessary for learning proper social skills, why do so few people seem to have any? I was thinking about this at the store the other day as I noticed several areas in which people seemed ill trained to be in public. Here are a few examples that I came across that day.
Hygiene: You would think that since public schools spend tons of money on health and fitness classes that its graduates would at least have basic hygiene skills, unfortunately that is not the case. Don't get me wrong there are times when I run to the store and I am certainly not looking my best and could use a good shower myself. I mean, who doesn't have to rush to the store in the middle of scrubbing the toilets and floors? I know I certainly do. However there are some people that you can tell really need to learn some basic hygiene habits. Pride in appearance is something lacking these days. Not pride in expensive clothes, but in cleanliness and neatness.
Manners: My daughter has been saying things like "please" and "thank you" before she could even speak! (she used sign language before she could talk) They are part of her daily vocabulary and while she is not perfect, she knows when to use her manners. When she gets a sticker or cookie at the store she always tells them "thank you." Yet I watch other kids rush over, grab their loot with the only words out of their mouths being "I want a cookie!" You seldom seem to hear an excuse me or I am sorry at the store either. Walking down those ever crowding isles often leaves little room for one cart let alone three or four. It never ceases to amaze me how many people shove their way past without uttering the simple phrase "excuse me" or "sorry" when they have actually bumped your cart or gotten in your way.
Respect: People seem to have little respect for anyone else that may be around them. They will use foul language with no regard for who might hear. No one seems to feel it is inappropriate to speak like that around children let alone other adults. No, I don't get easily offended or put off, but there was a time when people understood that you were to show some sort of respect for other people and watch your mouth in public. The grocery store is not an appropriate place to tell sexual jokes or cuss out your kid (not that there is ever an appropriate time for that)! Kids these days do not seem to think about anyone else other than themselves. They run out and buy the most offensive clothes they can find to purposely show that they don't care. Don't even let me get started about how they won't pull up their pants or button up their blouses!
Hygiene, manners and respect are important social skills but it is obvious that there is no guarantee that going to school is going to teach a person that skill. In fact the problem seems to be that parents believe it is the school's job to teach their children these skills when in fact these are things children learn by example. Proper social skills must not only be taught in the home by the parents, but they need to be used in the home by the parents or you are losing a fighting battle. If you don't use proper hygiene, it is not very likely that a health class in school is going to teach your child to have good hygiene. They have already learned bad habits at home and one class is usually not enough to break them. If you use foul language all the time and show no respect to others around you, your child is going to do the same, even at school. Parents need to step up and start teaching their child proper social habits, because it is obvious that schools alone can not get the job done.
While schools have good intentions and try to teach some of these things, the fact of the matter is that schools often fail to do it. Yet most homeschool children seem to have great manners, are very polite and are very well groomed. For some reason this makes people think that there is something "wrong" with them because of it! This is actually the way the children are supposed to behave!
Think about it for just a moment. What about the school environment represents anything you do in adult life? At what point do you spend your day surrounded by 20 people your exact age from your own neighborhood? At what point are you forced to eat lunch with or shower with your employees on a daily basis? How is spending five days a week there necessary to learn how to function in the work place?
No, schools are not necessary for learning proper social skills. The only thing needed to learn proper social skills is to live in a society and interact with it. It doesn't have to be at school, it can be anywhere. It seems to me that a trip to the store is the best place to start teaching those skills to your children. That is what I have done with my daughter. Each trip to the store is a lesson in behavior because I do not let her get away with being rude or disrespectful while we are there. So the next time you worry about children lacking proper social skills remember to leave where they go to school out of the equation. I guarantee you those kids that annoy you the most in public places probably go to school anyway which blows your theory about homeschooling and socialization out the water. Instead make it your goal to teach your own child proper social skills, because believe me, if you don't do it, no one else will.