Should extracurricular activities be required for home-schoolers? Of course they should be offered, but should reluctant children be required to attend a certain amount of social activities?

Is there any research on the success of children who get little to no out of the home socialization?

  • actual question or discussion?
    – hawbsl
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:06
  • Actual question. I don't know of any research, but you have my answer below. I'd be surprised if you did find research, frankly, because until recently homeschooling was something no one spent research dollars on.
    – HedgeMage
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:18
  • 4
    Anecdotally: They end up living out in the desert, working part-time for Stack Exchange...
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 14:41
  • 1
    @Shog9 If only my children can aspire to that! I've already started putting my daughter to sleep by telling her about HTML, SQL, and the like instead of stories ...
    – C. Ross
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


The idea of children socializing one another is absurd -- I wish our society would get over it. As adults, it is our job to teach children how to behave socially -- otherwise you get The Lord of the Flies.

That said, there are many other priceless lessons a child (especially a homeschooled child) learns from organized activity outside the home:

  • How to cope with leadership styles other than one's parents'.
  • How to get along with people from different backgrounds than one's own.
  • How to deal with people who don't always behave courteously or follow the rules (yes, including brats and bullies).
  • How to form relationships with new people.
  • How to adapt to a new environment.

In addition to all of those, your child gets whatever skills are developed in the particular activity, exposure to ideas and perspectives different from yours, and the chance to compete and achieve without being rival to his/her own siblings.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm strongly in the "get them out there doing things" camp. In my experience, a school-aged child who isn't interested in any activities outside the home has something maladaptive going on (extreme shyness, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, or any of countless other typical childhood issues). In all of these cases, the best thing to do is to help your child learn to cope with whatever is troubling him/her and find an extracurricular that he/she finds interesting and worthwhile. He/she has so much to gain by doing so, and NOT doing so will only re-enforce the shyness, fear of the unknown, lack of confidence, or whatever else is troubling your child.

It's a much easier thing to deal with at 5 than if you let it go until 15.

  • 1
    I really wish I could vote for this comment more. You nipped the myth about assumed healthy socialization happening in our schools vs. not in our homes so easily, AND coupled it with a great answer. Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 5:00

Certainly social skills give a huge advantage in many pursuits, and it would be negligent to not explain their importance in getting them the opportunities they want in life, and trying to encourage development. Flatly "requiring" things may just make them even more distasteful though.

It may be that they're not essentially anti-social, but just that most social activities are boring to them (at least relative to what they could spend time doing on their own) and the activities in question just need a stronger foundation (other than for the purpose of being social... I think I might avoid even mentioning that purpose).

Perhaps rather than looking for the typical social activities, begin by considering what their strongest interests are, then look for social opportunities related to those things in any way. Ultimately, whatever they are interested in is probably the result of some other people's work... is there any way they can get closer to those people who have done or are doing what they are really interested in? Or other kids who are interested in the same thing and might want to work together on it... they might form a club/interest group of their own around almost any subject, rather than joining someone else's. (The possibilities obviously vary depending on what age range we're discussing.)

[I don't know of any research in particular, but these answers do come from personal experience: I was rather anti-social mainly because I was bored out of my mind by it, and I did go on to form a lot of my own "clubs", bands, etc. as a kid (then through HS, college, and beyond) to exert control over that boredom and keep my agenda interesting.]


Socialization is not the problem for homeschoolers most people think it is and YES there has been research done on the matter. This article by the Washington Times summarizes much of the most recent findings, for more there are more citations at the bottom of this answer. The most recent findings are that homeschoolers typically have BETTER social skills than their mortar and brick school peers.

Your assumption that children that are schooled at home get little to know out-of-home socialization may be based on the belief that socialization requires children to socialize other children. Quite to the contrary, everytime a child is taught about manners, experiences interactions with other people in general (on errands with mom for example) and participates in activities within the community (family, church, broader community) they are getting social interaction. This article on the pros and cons of homeschooling I wrote (after a lot of research on the matter) has a section explaining how a greater variety of social interactions (meaning experience with multiple ages etc) is advantageous. Just scroll down to the "Pros". You might also get a chuckle out of Messy Monday's Blimycow.com vlog titled 7 lies about homeschoolers. This kid was homeschooled and has a great sense of humor about the "myths" he lists while he makes some pretty good points.

That said, they do need a VARIETY of interactions including interactions with people of other races, religions, political beliefs etc. to be as well rounded as possible and as adaptive as possible. There is nothing wrong with a child who is shy or doesn't like large group interactions (like happne in most "extracurriculars" people think of first).

Perhaps you have a quieter child that would enjoy small-group or quieter kinds of activities than you have offered already. Even one on one types of interactions still provide good exposures. I can't imagine a kid who would never want to have a play date. Does your library offer a book club for kids? What about Chess or singles tennis lessons? Honor who you have as a child and know that even in public schools there are kids who are "shy", but do keep trying to find something engaging. Perhaps your child would be more comfortable with something the two of you can participate in something like "Indian Princesses" which is a lot like girl scouts but stresses father/daughter activities (I don't know a whole lot else about it, my niece and brother in law are in this club together).

Socialization isn't just about learning to "play" with others and knowing about popular media. It is about manners, taking turns, knowing how to interact in a variety of situations, knowing how to act with a variety of people, learning about tact . . . If you are getting out and about yourself (with them along), addressing social skills as a part of your curricula and exposing them to others that have a variety of outlooks and experiences, you are socializing them. In terms of taking turns and sharing -they're probably learning that from time with siblings.

Public School Vs Homeschool Socialization By Joan Vasquez Homeschool Provides Better Socialization by Mary Peterson Nuh Uh! Homeschoolers Are Too Socialized! By dreahwrites http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vtch20 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0161956X.2000.9681938 Homeschooling: Breaking The Myths About... by Paula Sloan Socialization Does Occur Within Homeschooling Families by Brenda Hoffman Public School Vs. Homeschool:Who Can Do A Better Job At... by Brenda Hoffman Socialization: Why School Is The Worst Place To Get It by Nan Got Socialization?: A Homeschooling Father's... by Robert Keating Socialization In School?: Is Socialization A Reason For Or Against... by Karen Kaiser http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/human-relations/56224.html http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/13/home-schooling-socialization-not-problem/ www.hslda.ca/cche http://www.homeschool.com/articles/socialization/default.asp http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html For a good laugh on the subject, check out "Messy Mondays, Seven Lies about Homeschoolers" by Blimy Cow. on You Tube (not full of statistics but true in a sarcastic and funny sort of way every highschool homeschooler I know loves it)

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