By Lena Arnold
Many years ago, when we first contemplated homeschooling, our family and many friends were aghast!
“You have to be really disciplined!” My aunt said. “I know I could never be that disciplined.” What she really meant was, “I know YOU can never be that disciplined.”
To be fair, I can be a little on the disorganized side, however, despite this I still managed to graduate from high school at the top of my class, graduate from college (twice), and manage a successful professional career. I reminded her, that in order to accomplish these feats, I must be able to be ORGANIZED when it counts.
Okay, so I won that argument against homeschooling, but then she countered with, “What about SOCIALIZATION…?” She stated, drawing out the dreaded S word like it was a curse. “Aren’t you worried your kids will be weird, or not have any friends. They will never learn to socialize or make friends for life. There are no other black people homeschooling around her, so you are on your own.”
Well, I have to admit, on that count she’d tapped into my fears. Then I thought about it, “How many friends have I had for “life.” Hmm, out of all the “friends” I’d made over the years, with the exception of two, (one my childhood best friend, and the other from high school) all of my true friends had been made during adulthood. Plus, I knew if we were considering it, others were either homeschooling or considering it.
So how would we deal with this “socialization” thing?
Step One began with prayer. I said to God, “Lord YOU made these children and YOU know what is best for them. Steer us in the right direction and help them make friends.
Step Two began with creating opportunities for them to make friends based on similar interests. In some cases they joined group clubs such as Girl/Boy Scouts and 4-H, Church groups, etc. Where clubs didn’t exist we created them, or became leaders and coaches.
Step Three-We actively sought out other parents with similar goals and values. This is how the local Black Homeschoolers movement began in our community. When on homeschool outings, if I met other blacks with their children I would ask them if they homeschooled as well. If they did, they were invited to be part of the group. If not, I’d still connected with a parent whose child had similar interest. Oh, and we did not limit our connections to exclusively black groups, since learning how to connect with people of other cultures was and is just as important as connecting with your own.
Step Four consisted of volunteering in places where our kids would have an opportunity to connect with other kids.
Step Five-Participation in co-ops. Many communities have homeschool groups and co-ops families can be a part of. Some are based on religious values, some cultural. But the vast majorities are open and available to participation without consideration of race, religion, etc. The common denominator of most is simply homeschooling.
Here’s the beauty of all these connections, we are making friends too. And since the parents are connecting, that means these children are more likely to stay connected as well, unlike school where the connections often end at the end of a school day, year, or graduation.
So not only have were socialization fears been unfounded, they didn’t even exist.
But for those of you who are still not convinced and need empirical data, let me drop this on you.
In 2003, the Home School Legal Defense Association commissioned the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated. Conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, the study surveyed over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. Over 5,000 of these had been home educated at least seven years, and the statistics in this synopsis are based on their responses. The results confirm what homeschoolers have thought for years: No problem…
Value of Higher Education
The report, which can be found in it’s entirety on their webstite clearly shows that Over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18 to 24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States population. Note that nearly half (49%) of the respondents in this study were still full-time students at the time of the survey.
Involved in their communities
Homeschool graduates are more active and involved in their communities than traditionally school students. Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages. Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.
Civic affairs: engaged citizens
Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults. For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18 to 24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population.
Appreciating their alma mater (and pater)
Ninety-Five percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed are glad that they were homeschooled and 82% would homeschool their own children. Of the 812 study participants who had children age 5 or older, 74% were already homeschooling..
Conclusion of Research
The results of Dr. Ray’s cutting-edge research defuses long-held false criticisms of homeschooling and seem to indicate that homeschooling produces successful adults who are actively involved in their communities and who continue to value education for themselves and their children.
On a side note, all our kids are now in school and socializing quite nicely!
For the sake of brevity, I will conclude this week’s article with the above data, but come back next week, when I will add part 2 of this blog with additional data from other sources. For more information on homeschooling visit Dayton Black Homeschool Network