Isn’t Socialization A Concern?

I was having a discussion this evening with a neighbor whom I also consider a friend. We have known each other 3+ years and her youngest is the same age as my oldest. We both love that our neighborhood contains oodles of children who hang out together and rove from house to house by two and threes or in a big pack. There are eleven kids between the ages of four and eleven in our cul-de-sac.

So, this neighbor and I were talking about school work – her kid’s and my kids’. The conversation turned to an acquaintance whose child just started kindergarten at the local public school. The teacher called the child’s mother the first week of school to let her know that the teacher believed the child already knew everything that would be covered that year in Kindergarten. The mother was glad of the phone call and asked what the next step would be. The teacher didn’t know, but assured the family that they would be involved at every step of the process. They were involved, although they had to push to get things moving past that one phone call. After over a month of testing and meetings, the school admitted that this five-year old wouldn’t get much academically out of first grade. He was beyond that level. The school would not even consider putting him into second grade. The parents of this advanced child have decided to pull him from the school at mid-term and homeschool him so that he can work at his own level in each subject.

My neighbor/friend asked in a somewhat offended tone, “So homeschooling is the only option?”

I was taken aback by the tone and the question and responded that it wasn’t the only option, but it was the one the family had chosen. Being able to personalize curriculum to your child’s level seems like a great option to me. It was my friend’s next comment that truly floored me.

“Well, that child will definitely have social issues.”

I queried her as to what she meant. I thought, “Surely, she isn’t worried about socialization?!?”

Indeed, she firmly insisted that the child will now be removed from his peers and “isolated” at home. His ability to fit into a group, deal with other people, and have friends would be in jeopardy. She pointed out that there would be a social stigma on this child and that every child needs the interaction that schools provide in order to get them “ready for college [socially].”

I was shocked. Not by the sentiment, of course. I have run across this idea from relatives, former co-workers, friends, and strangers. But, this neighbor had always seemed to accept (our) homeschooling as a positive option and I had never heard her express a negative opinion about it. Did she think that my children would be socially inept if I continued to homeschool them all the way through high school? The same children she sees almost daily interact happily with all the other kids on our block? I was amazed.

Coincidentally, I am currently reading a book called “The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling” by Rachel Gathercole. I’m not far enough into the book to see if it would address my friend’s concerns.

In the meantime, what are other options for really-far-advanced Kindergartners in a small town? Heck, what are other options in a big city? Would a private school have more options for this family? What would you do with a five-year old who was reading at a third grade level already?


About doucementgently

I'm a thirty-something female with loads of kids, a great husband, and lots of things on my mind. I plan on blogging about homeschooling, personal finance, the economy in the U.S., politics, family life, and the things my children do.
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4 Responses to Isn’t Socialization A Concern?

  1. Yeah…we get the socialization arguement from our own family even. We do so much with so many other homeschoolers that it is SOOOOOO not an issue.

  2. My son was ready for kindergarten at 4 but not allowed so we started homeschooling and haven’t looked back. The private schools didn’t want him until 5 either. It’s been great. School is the only time in life where a person is isolated into strict age groups. They learn much better with different ages/levels together. Sure kids learn to play together at school, just usually not to play nice. Many colleges are now actively recruiting homeschooled students as they’re often ahead of the public school peers academically AND SOCIALLY more mature.

  3. wild4words says:

    wow… I just found this blog entry and I’m shocked at how much it echoes our experience with my son. Due to his birthday, he couldn’t start kindergarten until he was 5, turning 6 in the November of that same year (2008). He started reading at 4 1/2 and by the time he hit kindergarten, we already knew he was going to have difficulties because he’d met all the milestones. After 2 months in his class, his teacher did an assessment and he was reading at mid-second to mid-third grade level.

    By January, it became apparent that he was not only academically advanced, but socially as well – then the behavioral problems started. He’s disappointed in school (and this was the kid who could barely contain his excitement about it).

    Going back a couple of years ago – we discussed homeschooling him and found all the literature that dismissed, rather effectively, the socialization argument. We have been happy with some of his kindergarten experiences, so I can regret that, particularly since our work/school situation made it so homeschooling simply was no longer an option for us.

    At the same time, I’ve got to say it: the school administrators have made us nearly insane during this process. Our concerns were dismissed with “He’s only 5, he’ll be fine.” And now it’s taking a long time to get the intellectual and academic achievement assessments done so we can get services for him.

    I agree 100% that homeschooling is a valid option and sometimes, given the limitations and funding restrictions on school districts, it’s the only option.

    I just wish that there were more non-traditional, multi-age classroom schools out here. No child develops in lock-step formation, following arbitrary guidelines. How frustrating that it’s really one of the only systems we have for them…

    (sorry… just some random thoughts I wanted to share…)

  4. wild4words says:

    Sorry… on the kindergarten experience… we don’t regret it. We DO regret that things have taken a turn for the worse with our son and are hopeful that the G/T program will help him recover.

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