Since socializing and people skills seem to be the main concern of these students, then those are the issues which I will address.
In the real world, dears, you will not be with people your own age every single day.
One of the greatest potential strengths of homeschooling is giving children the opportunity to interact with people of many different ages on a regular basis, which is exactly how it will be once they hit the ‘real world.’
If you’re worried about ‘people skills,’ public school isn’t necessarily the place to be. There are good public schools which I would consider perfectly valid options in situations where homeschooling really isn’t possible; in my own experience, I would have willingly returned to public school after a five-year homeschooling period had my family been just thirty minutes SE of where we live currently. Looking back, therefore, I can say without any extreme and unreasonable partiality that, when surrounded by people your own age and similar maturity levels, there isn’t much room to be different, without potentially being [sometimes unintentionally] repressed by your peers.
I was lucky in high school – my preferred circles at the time were with public schoolers, and I somehow managed to get into an exceptionally amazing crowd of nonconformists who were comfortable with themselves, knew the importance of self-respect and respecting others, weren’t afraid to do things their own way, and built each other up in everything. Even in the most heated debates – and we had plenty of them – what it always came down to was that we were friends, and that at the end of the night, that was what mattered. But I resent how different I was made to feel years earlier in elementary school, when I was told that I had an accent and made fun of because no one could pronounce my last name. It’s been a long time since I recalled how they used to chant “AISA NO-NAME!” but it still stings, because I did not have the self-confidence then to stand up to them and be proud of who I was. At that age, being surrounded by people my own age was not fun, not cool, and not productive.
Being allowed to thrive and really be yourself is so important, for different reasons at different points in your life. At every age, you search yourself on a different level. Finding yourself at five isn’t anything like finding yourself at fifteen, but it’s a constant process, and you need to have room to become self-aware and become comfortable with yourself at any and every age. To be able to do that, sometimes you need people who are younger than you to look up to you and give you a reason to be better at setting a good example for them. Sometimes you need people who are older than you to lovingly teach you humility and impart wisdom beyond your years. In the real world, you’ll need to be able to switch gears on the fly and comfort the crying toddler who has temporarily misplaced their parents one minute, then speak calmly and coherently to the adult who is ten or fifteen or twenty years older than you the next.
And if you, like myself, aspire to be a good parent one day, public school is not necessarily the place to learn when to be a parent and when to be a best friend; I think the most you can hope to find absolutely anywhere is a good outlet for commiserating when your own parents are being ‘unreasonable.’ <– extreme sarcasm
I am curious; you go to school with the same set of people, year after year, day after day, but how many of those people are actually, really and truly, your friends? Do you know them? What do you know about them that won’t be superficial information two or three or ten years from now, if it isn’t already? Are they so very dear to you that when you end up on opposite ends of the country for college and work and life, you’ll make a point of driving or flying out to see each other someday, sometime, and with whom you’ll not merely be content to be ‘facebook friends’?
I wonder how much of your extra-curricular activities take place outside of your own school building, with people who don’t go to your school, especially when you’re in high school. The real world will expect you to move in different circles, constantly adjusting to the norms of each circle. Will you wear masks, or will you be able to bring your true self in its fullness into each circle?
Haha, I’m having too much fun with this post. Look no further than this blog, dears, for a completely and hopelessly “sugar coded” homeschool moron.
Third-year college, and I seem to be doing alright. I don’t mean to brag, only to highlight what has remained important to me because of what values homeschooling helped me to recognize and embrace. I’m still on good terms with my parents, still happy to be home with the family every night, still happy to be with my siblings, still so relieved to have an eighteen-years-younger-than-me baby in the house, still Catholic, still singing and playing guitar for God, still maintaining good grades in school, still very good friends with certain people I’ve known for five or ten or twelve years, still open to the possibility of a religious vocation, though still very much wanting to be a pro-Life wife and mother… still following my dreams.
I think that’s the most important thing I’ve learned from homeschooling. The things that you do have to be things that you want for yourself. Regardless of difficulties, you can’t do anything you’ll hate or hate yourself for. The career is just an aspect of life. The big picture is your constant-yet-ever-maturing vocation. And what it really does come down to in the end is what’s being taught in the home. No matter if you’re homeschooled or go to public or private school, what’s going on at home with your parents and siblings? Are they setting you up to follow your dreams? Are they helping and supporting you in choosing the major and career that you were created for? Is it about the money? The social status? Or is it about your unique God-given talents and ability to make the invisible God visible through your life?