Here's the thing. You can rarely have a conversation with new homeschoolers or with people outside the homeschool community without hearing something about socialization. But is it really what our kids need? Or is there something more?
According to Britannica.com, "socialization [is] the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society)." If we are Christ-followers, we don't always live in a manner that is approved by society. Throughout the Bible, there are descriptions of how God asked people to live differently because of their faith. In the Old Testament the Israelites lived lives that were set apart. In the New Testament Jesus lived in the world but not of the world. Throughout scripture, individuals lived differently than societal norms because of what God called them to do. In today's society, do we want socialization that just teaches our kids to behave according to what is approved by society?
When I look scripture, I see God continue to emphasize that family, raising our kids to know and follow the Lord, community and fellowship with other believes, and also outreach to those who are lost and in need. When I hear the questions about socialization in homeschooling, I tend to cringe just a bit. Socialization feels so void of relationship. I prefer to replace conversation about socialization with conversation about community. The definition of community often includes a group of people with common interests, beliefs, location, history, etc. Community has a feeling of relationship, of belonging, of being a part of something. It's not about just knowing the rules of how to behave, but about deeper relationship with others where we can learn skills that relate to how to interact, how to find value in how God created us and created others, where we can go when life is hard and we need support, and how to grow and sharpen each other through fellowship and interaction.
This is not to say that we should shut out the rest of the world or just make our own rules. Scripture is clear that we are to reflect Jesus to the world. We can't do that if we isolate and separate. Look at how Jesus drew others to him throughout His life, and how He asked the disciples and those who followed Him to continue to be a light to the world and point others to Jesus.
This is also not to say that we don't need to teach our kids about society. We do need to teach them about behaviors and norms that they will come across in the world, but we must teach them what the Bible says about these things as their primary instruction.
And so...community. We need it. Where do we find it? How to we value it? What does it look like in your day to day homeschooling? I love homeschool groups. They are not perfect because they are filled with imperfect people. But find, or start, a group that connects, encourages, sharpens, and fills your family. You will be better because of it.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25