On Being Well-Rounded or Socialized


youth school teens uniform catholicschool privateschool learn study teenagersWe homeschooled our two daughters for 8 years from kindergarten/2nd grade until 7/9th grade.  They didn’t have a boatload of friends during those years, but the friends they did have were special, kindred spirits, and we got together as often as we could.

When we took the kids out of the Catholic school to home-school them, people said we were taking them out of the real world and unsocializing them.  They will be isolated and develop slower than the children being socialized the institutionalized way.  After a year of being at home, our girls were fine, they were happy and they were themselves.  They prayed, studied religion, math, English, social studies, gardening with their daddy learning earth science.  We built volcanoes, baked bread and tried new recipes, they learned new instruments and played in a home-school quartet, sang in the city choir, played softball and soccer in the county extension sports program and played handbells at Church.  They weren’t bored, until our eldest daughter reached 9th grade.

As we began to struggle to find new options for our daughters who were outgrowing the home school scenario and in desperate need for advanced math and science instruction, a Catholic high school opened up close by.  We prayed and then enrolled them – one the first year, her sister the next.

Then the real socialization nightmare ensued!  Those that secretly wondered how our daughters would fair in the “real” classroom, both academically and socially, were surprised at how intelligent and mature they were.  The teachers and faculty were impressed at how respectful both girls were towards authority, prepared they were for class, faithful they were to the Catholic identity as they attended the school rosary during May, adoration every Friday, and the Stations of the Cross during Lent.  The high school faculty admired them and doted over them to us; at the same time, however, their peers kept their distance.  No bonds of friendships were extended to them outside the school day.  What was a shocking truth about children being raised by each other instead of their families was verbalized at a parents meeting the first year by a parent who also was a physician in the local hospital,  “After spending the past 9 years together in school, these kids know each other better than they know their own siblings.”  Holy cow, was that an eye-opener!  So where does that put the family ranking against their peers and like-minded school mates?

There are lots and lots of written testimonies on this subject, here are just a couple: Catholicsistas.com, and a quote from a dear friend, Allison, who also is a Catholic homeschooling mom on her blog, Totus Tuus:

The mass socialization conducted within schools has brought about a proliferation of delinquent behavior within this nation’s youth, reports education researcher, Dr. Michael Slavinski. He notes that student bodies are increasingly riddled with violence, drugs, promiscuity, emotional disorders, crime, contempt for authority, desperate behavior, illiteracy and peer dependency – just to name a few.

How can healthy, well-rounded socialization happen within a group of children vying for attention, popularity, and power inside their tightly bound age group, while being reared by adults too busy with their own lives as they vie for attention at work and in their own social circles for popularity and power?   These parents can’t see what is happening to their children, the cliques and inability to converse with others outside their little comfy circles; they just know that their children are happy and connected.  It is a shame. Is this everywhere?  Research says, Yes.

As far as Catholic families go, they have nowhere to run for support, except to the Catholic home-schoolers and the Baltimore Catechism, funny huh? This socialization, coupled with the poor state of parish catechesis in the US, which is well documented, is producing a generation of falling-away Catholics in record numbers, especially since many students go off to liberal, non-Catholic colleges and get indoctrinated with liberal professors for 4 years.

If we could have had a better support group in our town with an active academic co-op to keep our girls interested, challenged, and happy, we would NEVER have put them in this situation where they are required to be the example to measure up to, but are ignored; where they have the pressure to keep up a high level of maturity amidst their radically over-socialized peers, where their faith and interests are not shared and the isolation that both feel on a constant basis within the walls of their institutionalized school is painful.

Our daughters are mature, smart, talented, and faithful, and they want to stay that way.  As their mom, I pray for them everyday and feel convinced that we did the right thing having them at home those precious 8 years, where they belonged. They will be ready for their future outside of high school as fine Catholic adults.


About Author

A Master Catechist, Catholic blogger, and freelance writer, you can find me in many places around the Catholic world. When I am not lecturing at the parish, I'm writing, working on a future book, and tending to teens in the house and welcoming my knight home from the coalmines each night. I am passionate about Jesus, our Triune God, the Holy Catholic Church and her teachings, and the faith lessons I am continuing to be graced with.

  • goral

    Socialization is the brick that is used against home-schoolers and others who want to shield their children against those who want their souls.
    We home-schooled and otherwise. By that I mean that they always got the opposing opinion at home, from their parents and grandparents.

    Well rounded? Our three daughters are doing so well. How does a literature PhD, medical school student and running her own business sound for rounding?.
    Most importantly they go to Mass regularly.
    The alternative – come out as rounded as the brick that the losers like to launch.

  • Claire

    The socialization argument against homeschooling gets really old. School is not essential to socialization. Social experiences are essential for socialization. Social experiences can occur in many different settings, not just school. My son went to preschool, which was a great experience. We are going to try public kindergarten in the fall (1/2 day), and simultaneously consider homeschooling, hoping that the part-time kindergarten experience will give us a good idea of which route to follow. My son is only 5, and already I have had to second-guess so many decisions that I’ve made up until now. His social skills aren’t the greatest. Some would say that he should have been in daycare. My response to that is that if there weren’t so many kids in daycare, his social skills would probably be better, because there would have been more neighborhood kids around to play with all these years. The way our current society is set up makes it really hard for people to parent in a more traditional style.