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Are classrooms necessary for learning people skills?

By Alex Farmer
On April 2, 2014

One of the assignments in my child psychology class was to post discussion questions and answers that are relative to child development.
As I was scrolling the list of questions, I stumbled upon a question that asked about a child's social development when they are home-schooled.
I thought, "Duh, children gain more social skills from a traditional classroom environment."
However, I decided to do a little research to get a more educated opinion. It actually changed my outlook a little bit.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about home-schooling a child. First and foremost, home schooling must fit the family.
There must be a place within the home for structured learning to occur with minimal distractions. Also, it means that parents need to be able to provide social-learning opportunities for the child.
These two factors are important because children need to obtain an efficient education while still being able to obtain social skills that will allow them to interact successively with other members of society.
Since the question focused on the effects of home schooling in regard to socialization, let's get a clear observational definition of socialization.
A formal dictionary definition of the word is, "a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate to his or her social position."
So in summary, socialization involves the ability to behave effectively and, hopefully, positively within society.
Usually, exposure to other people will help us gain experience in regards to socialization. This experience is critical so that we can be comfortable around other people and not have a feeling of "awkwardness" in social settings.
Our productive and positive behavior within society can be maximized if we gain this state of relaxed feeling around others. So even though obvious, it is very important for children to develop socialization skills.
Now that we have clarified our socialization definition, let's look at the home-school environment. This is where my opinion really changed.
Children who are home-schooled CAN BE introduced to a variety of situations and people throughout educational activities. This type of setting, if performed correctly, could be more open than a traditional classroom setting.
One of the main reasons is because children in a traditional education setting are divided into classes based on their grade level.
This can cause a reduction in exposure and interaction with other people for students because they are always around the same group of peers.
I had never thought about it like that before.
Another potential result of this division is that traditional students may develop a comfort zone even if they don't realize it because they are used to being around the same people all the time.
This limitation isn't applicable to home-schooled children, because their schedule has much more flexibility.
Even though their situation is also a form of division, it has more opportunity for change and interaction with different people on a daily basis than the traditional classroom schedule.
As a result, home-schooled children may have more skills and comfort during interaction with different people.
If you feel that is a strained argument, remember that I said, "if performed correctly."
That means that in order for some of the previous statements to be true, parents must fully commit to maximizing the home-school environment to its full potential in regards to education AND socialization.
Parents must present a variety of social-learning opportunities to the child so that they can interact with different people.
Obviously, if a child doesn't take part in any social-learning activities, he or she will not develop any social skills. Efficient socialization skills can be accomplished many different ways.
Those ways include, but are not restricted to, field trips, outreach programs, organized sports, support groups and churches.
These are effective ways for home-schooled and classroom children to develop social skills.
In conclusion, my view did change a little bit in regards to the potential for home-schooled children being able to have adequate socialization opportunities.
I now feel like a home-schooler could interact with other children better than, the same as or worse than the traditional classroom child.
It all just depends on the home-school environment and the commitment made by the parents in regards to education AND social-learning activities.
Due to this, I still believe that the traditional classroom environment is best, but now I don't have such a negative opinion towards home schooling.
As always, follow me on Twitter @GatorZ25 and let me know what you thought about the article or what you'd like to see in future issues. Stay safe and God Bless!


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