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Almost one-quarter of home school students are enrolled one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools.

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What about Socialization? (Part 2)

Be sure to read Part 1 of this article: What about Socialization?

When someone asks of home education, "What about socialization?" he or she usually means, "How will these children learn to get along with others when they are not in large, age-segregated groups of their peers most of the day?" He might mean, "How will this home-educated child learn to accept the American - or Canadian, German, or Japanese - way of thinking and living?"

Of course, the questioner has already made some unspoken assumptions:

  • that a conventional school classroom is the best setting for learning how to get along with others;
  • that a child in such a classroom will learn best how to stand on his own;
  • that an age-segregated situation with a government-certified teacher is best for learning how to function and think in society; and
  • that the conventional classroom setting is the healthiest setting for the psychological development of a child who is trying to become a mature adult in a democratic republic.

"What about socialization?" is a perennial question asked of home educators and their children. Several researchers have explored the self-perceptions, which are related to socialization, of the homeschooled. Their findings should help put this question to rest.

Regarding the significant aspect of self-concept in the psychological development of children, several studies have revealed that the self-concept of homeschooled students is significantly higher than that of public school students. One researcher concluded: "A low anxiety level could be a contributing factor ...More contact with significant others, parental love, support, and involvement, peer independence, and a sense of responsibility and self-worth may be other contributing factors."

Their academic self-concept, at the 72nd percentile, was above the national average and was positively related to achievement. They have above average self-esteem, in multiple studies.
They are "not isolated but active, contributing members of society, even in childhood. Ninety-eight percent are involved in weekly church meetings and other activities that require interfacing with various ages and settings."

Private school nine-year-olds were seen to be more influenced by or concerned with peers than a comparative home-educated group. It appears that home-educated children perceived their parents as primary authority figures more often than did the private school children.

Homeschoolers' self-concept was just as strong as that of private school students and higher than that of public school students, all of whom in this study attended Baptist (Christian) churches. All of the three groups were above national norms.

An evaluation of the communication skills, socialization, and daily living skills of demographically matched publicly schooled and home-educated students revealed that "the home-educated children in this sample were significantly better socialized and more mature than those in public school. The immediate implication is that homeschool families are providing adequately for socialization needs." Further, the researcher stated more strongly, "The findings of this study indicate that children kept home are more mature and better socialized than those who are sent to school."

Institutionally schooled students have been shown to receive significantly higher problem-behavior scores than their home-educated age mates. The conventionally schooled tended to be considerably more aggressive, louder, and more competitive than were the home-educated. Larry Shyers, the author of this study, noted that his findings draw into question the assumption made by many people that traditionally educated children have better social adjustment than those who are home-educated.

In summary, as far as researchers have found, the home-educated are doing well in their social, psychological, and emotional development. Perhaps the fact that most of these children have siblings and are engaged in a variety of social and community activities makes the research findings on socialization not surprising.

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., is the president of the National Home Education Research Institute ( Brian and his wife Betsy have been married 23 years and have eight children, all of whom have been home educated since birth.

This article is excerpted from Dr. Ray's book The Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling and is provided courtesy of

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