Socialization and homeschooling

I’d be really careful on that. I know a lot of people who skipped grades as kids due to academic intelligence who are still struggling socially as adults because they missed out on socialization — they were “too smart” for people who were the same age as them and never learned to get along with their immediate peers, then they were “that smart kid who’s a year younger than everyone else” when they moved up a grade. Their entire childhood was interacting with older people who thought they were “so mature for their age”, which became a huge part of their identity. When they were in their early 20s, that was so much a part of who they thought they were, but people stop seeing “mature children” when you’re in college and just see another young adult. At that point, no one is being surprised at how eloquent you are. But “being mature for your age” is so wrapped up in who you are.

It’s pretty clear to me as a 30 year old when I meet people around my age who are only children or were homeschooled. They missed out on socialization with a wide variety of other kids, when they were kids, and now they don’t know how to act around their peers as adults. I’m not saying “you must have more children or your son will forever suffer!!” (And that would be pointless because there’d be too much of an age gap, even if you weren’t trying to live a life right now that is low-cost and has a lot of freedom.)

I am, however, suggesting that you consider his physically-present social interactions with other kids around his age. They don’t need to be “the same age”. Living in a lot of countries would have been a dream for me as a kid, but I think about the friends I had in childhood, and we could not have replaced running around barefoot in the woods or climbing trees with FaceTime calls. I know COVID has changed that, but it’s also gotten a bad rap for it.

I realize I might be coming off as judgmental, and I don’t mean that. I am not a parent and I do not know you or your life plan. I am, however, a teacher, and I have seen a lot of types of kids and watched some of them grow up. School has little to do with academics. It’s a place for kids to interact with other kids and learn how to do so in the manner of the culture in which they live. The only way to replace that opportunity is to homeschool your child but make sure they are socializing with other kids in other ways — daily sports and clubs and extracurricular classes. Even then, if you think of “contact hours” for a language or sport practice and apply that to social skills practice, a homeschooled child is getting 1-2 hours a day while an in-person schooled child is getting 8. That quickly becomes a massive difference.
Maybe I’m just jealous that your son is getting opportunities that I think a lot of young children would die for, but please keep the above in mind. This past 1.5 year had shown that kids need to interact with one another in person. Learning from people older and younger is fantastic for expanding your world view, but kids need friends who are closer in age to really develop socially. My :2cents:


Define struggling socially. I don’t understand what this means. That they can’t talk with people?

This whole, “They are so mature for their age” is most definitely not my son. I am not worried about that at all.

People around your age (in their 30s ) who don’t know how to interact? Sad to say, that is much of your generation. Cell phones as a whole have destroyed many younger people’s ability to interact with each other; I don’t see homeschooling having much to do with it.

I think you were very lucky to have had the opportunities that you had with your friends as a child. Things have changed for kids. The running around barefoot in the woods is not something that is possible here - he would step on meth needles. And we do try to allow as much social interaction as he desires, including with kids his age- he is the guide of that.

I was also a teacher for almost a decade, and I just don’t buy it. There is an inculcation that is a large part of the underlying methodology of school that is creating good 9-5 workers. The “socialization” that you speak of at school,

is what I fundamentally have problems with. My experience both as a teacher, and even moreso, watching my son at school here in Canada, is that school teaches largely negative social skills. How to bully, how to escape bullying, how to create cliques, and how to emotionally manipulate groups (the followers) to a very small groups (the leaders or even teachers) advantage. And that is just the students. The teachers are often even worse, and largely have drank the Kool aid thinking that they know better and are somehow teaching invaluable life skills- when the opposite is often the case; authoritarianism has no place in actual education.

On a side note, I appreciate the concern, and I didn’t take your post personally in any way. Like I said before, this is a bit of a push button topic for me, for many reasons.

And all this being said, we do try to get our son to spend as much time as he can with people in general, including kids his age. When we are travelling, we will stop at most locations for around a month ago or so, so we will see what we can find for him to do away from us, and with other people/kids, both for our sanity and for him.

Apologies for the epic post. Rant over.


Really? You don’t know what it means for people to struggle socially? Small sample size, but the kids I knew in high school and college that transitioned from home schooling were generally somewhat awkward - including a couple friends I had that from elementary school (who were normal then :smiley: ) that started home schooling I the somewhat transformative Jr high years. Many struggled with what was appropriate in social settings, just because they had much less exposure to it. My child went to a hybrid home school program, and the kids coming in to that from all home schooled also tend to be just a little off in their social cues and ability to make friends (for example,.more than one has just gone up to other kids and asked if they want to be friends. Yes sweety, but that’s not how that really works).


That’s actually how it works in Taiwan though. Even for adults. At least in the days before massive use of social media. The classic ‘lets make friends’ line. I’ve seen both kids and adults do it. Nowadays most young people can’t even open their mouths but…nah…some of them should still be conversational.
I’m a long term resident in Taiwan and I also think Taiwanese people in general are hard work to get to know and I haven’t seen it get any easier. Fortunately Noel knows a bunch of long-term foreigners here which is a fantastic ‘re-start’ to life here.


In the context of work,.that’s a little more difficult to say, because I get the feeling that beyond just do your freaking job, you’re going to chalk that up to power plays and games. :wink: But some examples in my mind are people that are really, really difficult to work with - really, really bad team players that don’t know how to give and take, don’t know when some battles aren’t worth fighting, don’t know when to shut their mouths, and can’t give in.

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But that could be a self-selecting population. As in: the kids who were already socially awkward and struggled with social interaction had parents who encouraged them to home-school (and those kids jumped at the chance to stay home). That would be different from “they used to be normal but home schooling turned them into awkward social hermits.”

In my experience, it’s people who don’t know what are appropriate things to say at appropriate times, literally hover over people or stand too close when there is plenty of room to maintain distance (in the preCOVID sense), and are unable to take social cues.

It’s a lot of “unable to read the room”, for example, everyone is suddenly avoiding eye contact as the story they tell becomes increasingly awkward (TMI, ultra-sexist, racist, etc.), then the person will start laughing, but no one else thinks it’s funny. When the room continues to be silent, they don’t understand that sometimes you should just shut up, not continue rambling on and making people even more uncomfortable. Look, I think we’ve all had the “oh crap, I should not have started telling this story” moments, but people who attended school with other people who are their age tend to be (though not always) at least able to recognize that they’re making people uncomfortable, and know to say “and I’m going to stop here”, shutting their mouths and opening the floor for someone else to speak.

Or, in an example I can take from a large American family (8 homeschooled, former Christian cult kids, now adults) that I met here when they all moved to TW to work in the public schools, they pick up on things they perceive as “things you do to your friends” because other people do it, like playful hitting or punching. But they don’t do it in a way that your “BFF” might do it; they end up literally punching someone for no clear reason, so they end up pissing people off. Or they hear someone making a joke about about someone’s height/weight/physical strength/accent, etc. and they don’t understand that close friends might say things like that to each other, but just because you hung out with someone once or twice doesn’t mean you can say that too. Again, not able to process social cues.

As far as cellphones causing inept social skills go, I don’t have that problem with anyone in my life. Absolutely everyone that knows me knows that if they do not have a very legitimate reason to pick up their phone (eg.,“excuse me, my mother is calling and she only does that in an emergency, I need to take this” or, less dramatic “oh, we talked about going to that one restaurant for lunch, let me look up the address” or “hang, on let me pull up maps”, “I’ve gotta get a picture of this” (and NOT immediately post to IG), etc. realistic use of the phone for a moment that isn’t choosing to engage with someone else because clearly I’m too boring), I will directly tell them to put their phone away or arrange another time to meet with me. I have been known to get up and leave people who think it’s OK to spend more time answering messages than eating, let alone talking to me, while out to dinner with me. Thus, the people I call “friends” are people who devote the time we are physically present to being present. When other people ask me why I don’t like certain people, and it’s because they were buried in their phone when we were supposedly hanging out, I tell the other people that I would love to hang out with them, but staring at a phone is not hanging out. Problem is either solved by them learning to put their phone away for an hour, or we aren’t friends, which, to me, is still problem solved.

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Interesting, how many people that have been homeschooled do you know exactly? Are they all of this “religious” variety? And on a side note, have you ever thought that they may be this way due to being “Christian Cult kids”, and their specific family dynamic (8 kids !!!) rather than it having anything to do homeschooling … Correlation does not mean causation. Have you never met people who have not been homeschooled who had these problems?

And ultimately, what is the problem if they don’t process social cues the way that you do exactly? Does everyone have to fit into a perfect mold of ordinariness? Honestly, the people that I have enjoyed being with the most don’t fit in, especially in the arts. Bit then again, I enjoy hanging out with people more on the edge of society, who don’t quite “fit in”.

I am not disagreeing with your experience at all; and maybe everyone you have met who was homeschooled had issues with social cues. I just don’t see that homeschooling causes these issues, or more importantly, that regular schooling prevents them.

If we want to start trading stories, I can start to go into the evils of supposed socialization in public schools, and the lifelong trauma it can cause, especially for those a bit outside of the mold.; but I would rather not.

But like I have said elsewhere, I am not really worried at all about this in relation to my son. However, I genuinely do appreciate the concern - it is a nice aspect of the community here.

The Christian cult kids would be an extreme example. That being said, most of my friends in college were the “friendless weirdos” in K-12 schooling. One of them was just joking with me yesterday about how she was trying to delete elementary school from her memory. This particular friend is one of those people who was speaking in eloquent, very mature even for an adult, complete sentences, at the age of three. Her dad decided she didn’t need to go to preschool because she “could learn just fine at home”. But her sister is five years younger than her. For the first five years of her life, what Maria Montessori called the “absorbent mind period”, aka, the time when children subconsciously absorb everything in their environment, especially how to speak their native language and act in their culture, she was pretty much only around her mom, dad, and other adult relatives. Then she gets dumped into K5 having been raised like an adult with no idea how to behave around other kids. She’s incredibly smart, so she skipped grades, left crappy public schools, went to micro schools, was homeschooled for a bit, and ended up at some school for the ultra rich (as a scholarship kid). Of course she was bullied through all of that. She didn’t really get along well with most people in our university either, including a lot of professors that she felt chose to pick on her. We were totally different majors, so didn’t really know most of her classmates or professors, but the few people I did know who were in her major seemed fine to me. She was under the impression that they were very exclusive and not interested in having anything to do with her. I still think she was misreading everyone, after 16 years of everyone actually being hostile toward her. I had a friend on one of my sports teams that went to a virtual high school (this was in the very early days of virtual schools). Awkward as heck. You’d ask her how classes were going and you’d think you’d just offered her a million dollar vacation. Same goes for the girls I knew who went to all-girls high schools. They had no idea how to behave any time a boy was in their presence. You remove any basic element of the broader society when someone is growing up and they don’t know how to act because they’re not observing how others might act in the same situation. As for the other friends in college who skipped grades or were homeschooled, the ones who had siblings figured out how to socialize more or less by senior year, but they still struggled to get over the fact that they were no longer the smartest person in the room. The only children continued to think they were very mature 12 year olds who knew everything, even when people with PhDs (aka the professors) told them they were wrong.

There’s a board range of social cues and how one “should” behave to “fit in” to society, and I agree that they’re not always a good thing. The problem with removing someone from that situation is that they do need to face society eventually. I agree that it’s awful bullying takes place in schools. I was fortunate enough to have a core group of friends in middle school that prevented that from happening — they stood up for me and I was able to find the confidence to stand up for them. When you don’t have any friends, that’s a lot more difficult. I can say that it wasn’t until I was a fully grown, graduated from college adult that I learned what it feels like to be bullied. And it took me by surprise, because everyone thinks that bullying is something that only happens when children are in school. I was also surprised at myself, because I never had problems sticking up for my friends when people pestered them, because my friends did the same for me. When I found myself being bullied without friends at my side? I had no idea what to do to defend myself.

Which gets into a broader problem of removing children that might be considered “atypical” from standard schools. They obviously don’t have the tools needed to know how to act in that situation, but that’s almost always because no one has taught them. I’m not talking about people with actual, diagnosed social disabilities. I’m talking about the otherwise developmentally fine, yet “awkward” or “weirdo” kids, which I was among. Most kids who are bullied in school are bullied because the bullies think they’re “weird” and then they don’t have any friends. It doesn’t matter what the “reason” for being weird is. The problem I’ve noticed both as someone who has existed in human society and as a teacher is that most parents don’t want their child to be bullied, but also haven’t the faintest idea how to deal with it. I know of very few parents who haven’t either removed their child from the situation entirely (like homeschooling them) or just let their child come home and cry, ending the “help” there, or maybe mommy calls the school, who doesn’t care. There are also the parents who tell the kid to grow up and get over themself.

What the kid (or adult) really needs in this situation is someone who can offer them social skills help, like a therapist. This is almost never what happens, but I’ve seen it work. In the school I was at last year, a lot of kids with problems were sent to a sort of “social skills hiking program”. Basically, they hung out outdoors and did a lot of role playing of different situations. I saw both the big bad bullies and the easily bullied morph into admirable leaders by the end of the school year. I am taking about kids who would have most certainly become “that awkward person in the office” in 20 years. The problem is that most families don’t have the resources to pay someone to work with their children on those social skills. But they don’t need to. Anyone can practice working with a child how to tell a bully to shut up or go through scenarios and talk about and practice what to do in each one. The problem is that most adults don’t know that and think removing them from the crappy school is better for them. But again, what do they do as adults? And it’s not harming the child’s personality to do that. They just learn to recognize what is happening and how they should respond. The kids in our class that did that program could see when they were not doing something that was conductive to the bettering of the group. And the kids that were easily bullied were able to have the confidence to tell the bully to stop. You don’t teach the appropriate social skills and the “weird kid” perversely enjoys being bullied, because it’s attention, and the bully gets similar satisfaction. No, most schools don’t offer such services, but there are a lot of other things at work that contribute to that issue…

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I do agree with much you have said, and I really like the social therapist modelling idea in relation to dealing with bullies; it doesn’t always work, but it is a cool idea. And I appreciate you sharing your personal experiences as well.

There are two small issues I have:

  1. There is a prevalent presupposition that the way that people function in school is somehow representative of society as a whole. I don’t agree with this.(if you look at your examples in your post, their problems started when they went back to public school and/or university).

  2. In your experience, homeschooling is for the people who are seen as ultra-achievers and/or ultra-religious. How about those with learning disabilities, or real social processing disorders, for whom public school would be an actual nightmare, where none of their academic, emotional, or social needs are addressed? And even worse, in an era of complete underfunding, where they are “integrated” and expected to conform with the class in all ways, how is homeschooling not better for them in every way, including social?

I have known 3 homeschooled families, and none of them have had the issues your friends had. But perhaps if I had, I wouldn’t be homeschooling my son, and my opinion would be radically different. But once again, thanks for sharing.

I’ve known way more than that; as I said, my child went to a school that has a hybrid homeschool component, and I had friends in HS and college that had previously been homeschooled. The kids that come in from full time homeschooling are almost universally weird - some are weird in very good ways, some in very bad ways, but there seems to definitely be something there. Just something to be aware of and to keep in mind for the kiddos.

I get what you are saying, but the standard of an arbitrary “normalness” is very difficult for me, and I really have issues with it. Perhaps it is one of the reasons I like homeschooling?

And similar to what other posters have stated, it is when the homeschooled are going to regular school that is generally the issue.

Re: homeschooling, I get the argument in this thread cause I feel like I’ve witnessed both sides. When I was growing up (80s and 90s) I knew a handful of homeschoolers and loosely formed an impression (weird, socially awkward, not popular, etc) based on this very small sample size. Now, I feel like I’ve encountered and met sooo many people in various stages of this…not necessarily middle-aged peers of mine but I mean younger adults down to current homeschooled kids, who have completely shattered my impressions from when I was a child. I’ve met plenty of popular homeschoolers (homeschool communities can in fact offer MORE socialization than traditional school if they so choose, since schoolwork is completed in a compressed time frame) homeschoolers who have better developed passions and more well-rounded, well-adjusted outlooks on life. It’s quite close to a 180 for me, to the point that I have no hesitation to “homeschool” my kids should it suit us. We plan to have them attend local schools in Taiwan next year, and the very tentative longterm plan would include a couple years during the 8-12 y/o time frame where we would travel the world and homeschool (ie, world school). Maybe it doesn’t come to fruition, but it’s certainly not out of any hesitancy regarding their social development.

And the statistics bear this out with the simple fact that homeschooling is becoming drastically more common. In 1999 (when I was in high school) it seems approx. 1.5% of school-aged kids in the US were homeschooled. In 2020 before the pandemic that number was 4%. During the pandemic it shot up to nearly 10%. Post-pandemic we’ll see what happens but there likely will remain a boost as many recent surveys have shown a huge increase in interest and positive association with the idea of homeschooling. If the numbers continue to climb at the rapid pace they were (even pre-pandemic) then clearly there will be not only the proliferation of the concept among mainstream families and consciousness, but there will continue to be more and more infrastructure built out that allows for homeschool kids to form communities based on their activities, interests, beliefs, etc so that there will be no difference in terms of socialization opportunities.

Exactly my thoughts on the matter.

I’m not sure those number bear anything out in terms of how well adjusted kids are or not. Moral / religion instruction continues to be a primary driver for a lot of homeschooled kids. Areas that are more poor and more rural are more likely to homeschool. And there’s a big increase in parents without high school diplomas home schooling (:man_facepalming: ). So I’d think the political / social climate would be a big driver in the increase.

I’ve had trouble with ‘friends’ doing this. Call to meetup and then get on the phone. Infuriating, but I haven’t had the balls to call them out on it. Your post gave me some gumption to do it next time

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