One of the most common questions home schooling families face is, “But what about socialization?” By “socialization,” what well-meaning friends, relatives, and even interested grocery store cashiers mean is, “How do you expect your kids to develop good social skills unless they go to school and are around other children all day?”
When I think about the absurdity of the assumption that putting your child in a classroom with 30 or more kids his own age is going to teach him great social skills, I almost want to laugh. Who in their right mind would want their child taught social skills by a pack of children who push, shove, disrespect adults, burp, fart and pick their noses in public, have terrible manners, are obsessed with the latest fashion and entertainment trends, and, as they grow older, quite often become cursing, bullying, sarcastic, peer-dependent, and sometimes physically dangerous attention-seekers who may or may not try to foist their ideas about how wonderful pornography, promiscuity, drugs, and alcohol are off on their classmates? Just exactly what kind of socialization are those kids getting?
We’ve home schooled our children for over 20 years and during that time, because our business took our family to home schooling conventions all over the country, I’ve met thousands of home schooling families. What I discovered is that most home schooled children have more than enough socialization—of the right kind. Home schoolers often are involved in so many extra-curricular activities it would make your head spin, from 4-H, to debate clubs, to chess clubs, to community theater, to local musical groups, to Boy or Girl Scouts, to community service organizations, and on and on. They are getting plenty of socialization, but the difference between the socialization they are getting and the socialization they would get if they were in a regular classroom is that their socialization is monitored by their parents and it involves a broader spectrum of age groups and a wider variety of interests than they would have if they just socialized with their immediate peer group.
Why a social skills book? Simply because I realized that even though home schoolers may have plenty of opportunities for socialization, they may still need some instruction in the nuts and bolts of people skills. Teenagers and young adults particularly need to know how to navigate social situations correctly.
So I’ve tried to put in this Guide the things I’ve discovered are the key elements of good social skills. These are the social skills we taught our own children and they have all had great success at navigating the social aspects of life. This guide isn’t comprehensive. I still recommend you buy and study a good etiquette book. (Who knows when you might be invited to a 7 course dinner and have to figure out which fork to use on which course?) and also a good basic social skills book for kids. But this Guide will cover more of the “street smarts” of people skills.
What are social skills and why are they so important?
Social skills are a combination of the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the situation you’re in and to the other people involved. They include an understanding of body language, facial expression, space and touch, gestures and postures, rhythm and time, personal hygiene, self-awareness, self-calming, and self-management These abilities are critical to happiness and success in every area of life and every type of relationship, from home to school to the workplace.
There’s an old adage that says, “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know” and I think, for the most part, it’s true. The ability to form meaningful, productive relationships with other people is one of the most important skills a person can develop.
No matter how much academic knowledge a person has or highly skilled he may be in other areas, if he has poor social skills, it will be difficult for him to function successfully in life.
I’ve written this book to be used either by homeschooling parents as a guide to teaching their children effective social skills or used by teenagers or young adults who want to develop strong social skills (or who want to brush up on the ones they already have).
I hope the Guide is helpful and that you’ll check out our series of Unconventional Home Schooling Guides and other great materials for home schooling families on this website.
Note: This book is currently only available in Kindle format, but will soon be released in paperback. If you do not have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app to your PC, laptop, tablet or cellphone and read Kindle books from multiple electronic devices. To download your Kindle app, go here: