One of the biggest stereotypes about homeschooled teens is that we are people who stay home all the time and rarely get to socialize with anyone outside of our household. I’ve heard assumptions that teens who go to traditional school have much better social skills and advantages compared to homeschooled teens. But is that really the case? What are the differences between how homeschooled and traditionally schooled teens socialize, and are they that drastic?
The definition of the word “socialize” means to participate in social activities or mix socially with others. I can imagine how people think homeschooled teens are disadvantaged based on how traditional school has become the mainstream idea of how people are educated. I decided to talk to some teens here in metro Atlanta to see what they have experienced.
First, let’s start with my experience. I have been homeschooled for all 17 years of my life. When I was very young, my mother decided to homeschool me and my soon-to-be siblings. Some years later she decided, with a little help from my father, to start a community of homeschooling families so we could meet and socialize with other children and their parents. As a child, I would also take after-school classes and participate in other extra-curricular activities, so I got to socialize during those times, too.
I am still a part of the homeschool community, and we go on field trips, spend time learning new things together, and participate in other activities. Now, I am also dual-enrolled at Atlanta Technical College. Taking college classes helps me to interact more with adults, whom I learn, work and socialize with. Since I have joined VOX ATL, I have gotten to meet a bunch of amazing people. On certain occasions I will go to teen events around Atlanta and socialize there, but that’s rare (because I don’t even really like people).
A typical day begins with me and my siblings struggling to wake up (when I say struggling, I mean struggling, we are teens and love our sleep) so we can get up and walk our dogs. Then do all our chores for the day. After that, depending on what day it is, I will do the school work my mother gives me and then, since I’m dual-enrolled, I will do the homework I have from that class. I will then decide if I want to practice my guitar (I usually don’t even though I’m supposed to). Finally, I basically just chill for the rest of the day.
After my interviews, I realize there are differences in the way teens socialize who are homeschooled and teens who attend school. Yet there is also common ground. Teens in traditional schools have regular events to attend and opportunities to socialize such as parties, prom, homecoming, school games, etc. Homeschooled teens can participate in these type of events, too, but they have to work a little harder to find them.
Some of the similarities between the two groups of teens are we all participate in after-school programs and sports, regardless of whether we consider ourselves introverted or extroverted. Social media evens the socializing field as both homeschooled and traditionally schooled teens meet and interact with friends online.
So, homeschooled teens do not miss out on socialization. We just learn our skills in different ways with more adults and children of multiple ages. Even though we can be seen as being at home all the time, we actually have more flexibility to socialize just like our traditional schooled friends.
To find out if other teens have similar views about homeschoolers and how socialization impacts our interactions with others, I interviewed a few people, some who are homeschooled, one who attends traditional public school, and one attends an alternative school. Here’s what they had to say:
Atiyah, 17, Homeschooled
As a homeschooled teen, I think we have an advantage not only because we get to stay home but most of our academic teachings are ahead of the public school systems, and we also get a lot of college prep. I socialize at different programs, on social media, and through extra-curricular activities like sports or dance.
Sylvia, 17, Alternative school/international traveler
[Homeschooled students] are really special people because of the fact that being homeschooled gives you the opportunity to focus on what interests you most and you can spend a lot of time with it, so we’re all very different and I’d say have more of a grasp of what you really enjoy doing rather than just following what others do. I socialize through other homeschool groups, groups that are focused on things like a club, and sports groups.
Izzy, 16, Public school
I think homeschooled teens definitely have a different experience then teens who attend public schools or private schools. There is a lack of social interaction with people in their age range, which could possibly hinder them later in their life. Going to school was one of my major sources of learning how to have a conversation, how to work in group projects, and understanding different walks of life. Homeschooled teens don’t necessarily get that public school experience, which I think is crucial to understanding who you are. During the week at school is most time spent socializing with others. The only time I’ve made friends outside of school is through VOX ATL.
Grace, 16, Homeschooled
We’re creative people and we think outside of the box. I socialize every day with my family and my friends who go to school after they get [home]. I play tennis, I’m a part of girl scouts, and an all-girl robotics team. I don’t think we have a lot of really huge social events, like a lot of us feel left out. Homecoming was this past weekend for some schools, and I must say it is a little saddening when you can’t partake in some of these activities.
Join us for our VOX Investigates: Equity in Education print release and community dialogue event on December 14th! This is our semester-end showcase of teen voices, providing a chance for teens to share their work in a caring community of peers while networking with each other and the adults who support them. This year’s event will be Saturday, December 14, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Decatur Library located at 215 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA 30030. RSVP at http://bit.ly/voxdec14