Why homeschool? Be socialized by multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!

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From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Be socialized by family of multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!

Are all of your friends your exact same age, or even within a year or two of your age? I am 47 years old as I type this, and right now the ages of my closest friends range from 26 to 78 years old. Not one of my closest friends is my exact age or even within a year or two of my age. Moreover, my best friends are still my sisters and my mom, along with my husband. When we homeschool, our children are socialized by family of multiple ages. This is in contrast to the usual grouping of children by one age in public school.

Socialization in a Homeschool Setting 

Socialization in a homeschool setting encourages interaction of multiple ages. Every age is considered worthy to exchange ideas with, to talk to, and to play with. No one is left out in the cold. In fact, age is something that rarely comes up. Siblings of all different ages consider each other friends. When ‘recess’ time rolls around, games are made to work for all different ages. During lunch, everyone talks freely, and shares all sorts of things without fear of judgment. During school, every person has something meaningful to share, and not everyone has to be learning the same thing. When grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins stop by, everyone stops to enjoy their company. People are not grouped solely according to their age in any other setting outside of public school.  Socialization in a homeschool setting is much more like the ‘real world!’

The Impact of Socialization in a Homeschool Setting

Our children have only ever been homeschooled. As my husband often travels, my sons have had to help with many things. They answer the door and visit with the mailman as he delivers our packages. When the fireplace repairman needs tools, they find them and hand them to him as he needs them. If the propane truck stops to deliver gas, they introduce themselves to the driver and show him the path my husband prefers he takes to fill the tank. When the contractor is redoing one of our closets, they help him hold shelves and hand him tools as he asks for them. If our trees are being trimmed and sprayed, they head outdoors to help load the trailer with the trimmings. I share these specific stories because every one of these men have commented positively about our sons’ interaction with them. In fact, many have offered them jobs.

The Impact of Socialization of Homeschool Children Outside of the Home

Our children don’t really consider age when socializing outside of our home. When assigned random teams when playing dodgeball at Skyzone, they are happy to play with any age. Younger children are seen as assets, as they are quicker, but they are also seen as little ones to protect. Older children are seen as assets, as they can throw farther, and it’s okay to throw harder at them. When assigned random teams to play basketball at our fitness center, they are happy to play with any age. Older men are seen as assets because they are great at setting up plays, but they are also seen as prone to injury, so they don’t guard them as hard. Younger children are seen as fast and fun, but they are also seen as little ones to mentor. Everyone is someone to get to know, and age just doesn’t enter their mind.

Socialization of Homeschool Children Within the Family

Our children (who are currently 11, 15, and 19 years old) do consider one another best friends. They like to come up with games they can all do together. In our basement, they have 2 mini-basketball hoops. Countless games have been played with all sorts of different rules! They’ve found card games or board games that work for all ages. They have also made outdoor obstacle courses, nerf gun bases, basketball games, snow forts, and 3-wheeler races. Everyone can play because they make the games fit all ages. Whenever we have friends or family over, they blend in just fine. If two of them choose a movie to watch, the next time they choose a movie to watch all together. They each have their own hobbies, music playlists, books, and outdoor interests, but more often than not, they find ways to enjoy time together.

Socialization in Brick and Mortar Schools

When I used to teach in brick and mortar schools before I had children of my own, I had recess duty with multiple ages. I was always sad when children refused to play with students who were not their same age.  However, I was even sadder when children who were siblings refused to play with one another. I also saw older siblings walking home with their classmates, with their younger sibling trail far behind. Their reasoning? The younger sibling was embarrassing to be around when they were with their same age friends. Of course not all students behave this way. Some children in school really do try to take care of their siblings, stand up for them, and hang out with them. Unfortunately it is just harder to do, as for most of the school day, they are separated from their siblings.

Worried About Socialization 

One of the reasons families worry about homeschooling is often due to socialization. I find this ironic! It seems to me the opposite is true. Homeschooled children are not used to being separated into groups by age. When they see an elderly person, they talk to him, assuming he may have something interesting to share. Or if they see a young person at the park, they think it’s great because they have one more person to join their game. This way of thinking more naturally aligns itself with life in general. As long as we expect our homeschooled children to socialize with their siblings, their family, their neighbors, and other people they meet, they will be just fine. In fact, they will probably be better socialized when it’s all said and done, because they will be used to being around people of multiple ages, all the time.

In Christ,

Julie

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Author: Julie Grosz, M.Ed.

Some passions of mine are homeschooling with Heart of Dakota, cooking with All Recipes, reading Jane Austen in a bubble bath, singing along with lyrics that strike a chord, making family traditions, creating organization out of disorganization, and writing words - in emails, posts, and books - that glorify God. I'm a teacher and an editor by trade. Here's a quick rundown of my numbers... 24 years of teaching (7 public school, 17 homeschool), 6 years of college (4 undergrad, 2 graduate for my masters in education), 17 years of editing for HOD, 47 years old, 23 years of marriage, 3 sons who are almost 19, 15, and 11 - and I believe that should about 'sum' it up! You can view my blog here - https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/

9 thoughts on “Why homeschool? Be socialized by multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!”

  1. This is a great article, Julie! We have found these things to be so true in our family as well. Thank you for putting all these “Why Homeschool” articles together… helps so much to be reminded of these things when times are tough.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I’m so glad you’ve been finding these posts encouraging! When Mike and Carrie asked me to write a series on why to homeschool, I was hoping it would encourage families who are homeschooling to continue to do so, as well as encourage families who are considering homeschooling to give it a try. I’m so happy to hear you are taking some encouragement from it as a mom who is already homeschooling!!! Also, I’m glad to hear you’ve found these things about socialization in a homeschool setting to be true within your family as well. Homeschooling is not easy, and sometimes we can begin to forget all the good we are doing by homeschooling our children. May the Lord continue to bring these to mind when times are rough, for all of us!!!

    1. Thank you, Amy! I’m so glad you have found the same to be true! The fact that children who are homeschooled can be socialized very happily and successfully in the homeschool setting is a message that needs to be shared, especially with families considering homeschooling for the first time. I really appreciate your comment!

  2. My daughter is 16 and this is only our 3rd year homeschooling. How can I help her to embrace this, since she is so used to the structure of brick and mortar school?

    1. What a good question, Ann! There is certainly a transition between brick and mortar school and homeschooling. However, no matter what kind of schooling they’re used to, helping our teenagers to be successfully socialized is a challenge today more than ever because they are more often more comfortable socializing with their media devices than with people. I’d say modeling healthy socialization is huge as parents! The blessing with homeschooling is we can model it often.

      Modeling good socialization skills within the home can be done by purposefully setting aside phones, t.v. turned off, etc. when we have meals together and when we do things together. Talking around meals at the table is a great way to learn to socialize! We ask each other how our day went, and each person is expected to share something as well as respond to what others have shared. Likewise, we have set aside time each day for our sons to play/interact with one another (i.e. 2 play a board game, or shoot hoops, or all 3 build something, etc.).

      When people come to our home (i.e. the mailman, the propane truck, the neighbors, the UPS truck driver, the Schwan’s driver, etc.), we have our children answer the door, say ‘hello,’ place our order, make the payment, say ‘thank you,’ etc. When we invite family over for holidays or for the Super Bowl, etc., we have our children get the door, carry in bags, hang people’s coats, etc. We also let them know that it is a good idea to have in mind some conversation starters. For example, if you know Nana just got back from a trip to watch a musical, ask her about her trip and how the musical was. Or, if you are building something and you know Papa Jimmy is coming over, ask him how he’d approach building it, as he’s a great handyman.

      When people send our sons a gift in the mail for Christmas or for birthdays, we have them personally call that person and thank them. We also help them with a few ideas of conversation starters to help the conversation flow, and we tell them the conversation should be longer than a few minutes and be more than just ‘thanks for the gift.’ We give them the option to handwrite thank you’s as well, but we do encourage every one to call. We have them call the video store to reserve DVDs themselves, or the workout center to ask questions. When the neighbor comes to ask if our sons can help pick up sticks or mow the yard if they’ve just had a surgery, etc., we get our sons and have them come out and talk personally to the neighbor to make arrangements.

      Outside of the home, we first model healthy socialization skills ourselves by having our sons come along with us and listen to us as we interact with people. For example, my husband had my son come along to a fur trader in town, and the next time he had my son go alone. My husband had my youngest son come along to dog training classes, and then he had him begin to help. At church, we have our older sons stand near us as we talk to adults and listen in. Sometimes we draw them in the conversation. We see them starting conversations of their own now. We also have our sons call the online grocery pickup to say we are coming to pick up groceries, and then we have them hop out of the car to load the groceries into our car alongside the grocery workers. At the fitness center we attend, we first had our sons play basketball by themselves and watch the other side of the basketball court with men playing pickup games. We then encouraged them to ask a few other boys to play with them. Finally, on their own, they decided to play with the adult men. What was once somewhat scary to do they now love and look forward to doing every week!

      Bob Schultz, in an HOD book for boys, had a great devotion about being ‘shy.’ He talked about how people aren’t really ‘shy,’ but are kind of just wrapped up in themselves. They are worried about how no one talked to them at a party, how no one seemed to be interested in them, or how no one seemed to befriend them. Instead, he says a servant minded attitude like Christ’s takes away shyness because you are intent on helping someone, in taking an interest in someone, etc. So when an elderly person needs help with a door, you get it. When a retired veteran comes to your birthday party, you take an interest in asking him about his time in service. When a person is sitting by themselves all alone and looking lonely, you stop by to chat with them. This focus of caring about others takes away the focus on just ourselves, helps us not to be ‘shy,’ and encourages healthy socialization. We have found this example to be helpful for our sons in and out of the home, as well as for ourselves!!!

      I know these ideas are simple, but I hope they help give you some practical ways to socialize your dear daughter in a healthy, natural way!!! Thanks so much for this wonderful question!!!

      In Christ,
      Julie

      1. Thank you so much! Those are great ideas. I think it’s wonderful how intentional you are about socializing your sons. I also love the thoughts on shyness. All very helpful!

        1. Oh good, Ann! Slowly but surely, we will make progress, right?!? Each of our sons are in different stages of this type of confidence to socialize, and we are reminded it is important to draw it out of each of them rather than just settle for one or two being able to confidently talk with others. As I typed my answer to you, I was reminded to make sure we have each son take a turn at each different type of ‘socialization’ opportunity. I hope you and your daughter enjoy trying some of these easy tips, and be encouraged I will be trying them with my sons right along with you!!!

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