Are Homeschool Students Ready for the Real World?

By Angela Hansen
Founder & Director, American Academy of Strategic Education
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Most people would agree that students who have been homeschooled typically excel academically, however some critics continue to challenge homeschoolers on being ready for the real world stating that homeschool students need more socialization. As a mother of two homeschoolers, I can attest to the fact that my kids do need more socialization not because they lacked socialization skills but on the contrary, because they love to socialize!

Generally speaking, homeschoolers overcome the potential for “lack of socialization” through heavy involvement in learning centers; social and academic clubs; after school music, art and language lessons; sports participation; and regularly attending field trips. Most homeschool students grow up extremely involved with other children.1 Homeschool students participate in more fieldtrips, spend more time planning their own education, have unique opportunities to pursue their interests and to apply their talents, and work with a wider age span of children and adults—all “real-world” opportunities.

If you consider the critic’s argument that homeschoolers lack “real world experience” and compare the homeschool student to the traditional school student, it might just be that homeschool students learning experiences are more in line with the real world. Thomas Smedley wrote his master’s thesis for Radford University of Virginia on “The Socialization of Homeschool Children.” Smedley found that in an effort to conform to their immediate peers, public school students are socialized horizontally and with a short-term focus. On the contrary, homeschool parents tend to socialize their children vertically and focus on teaching accountability, service, maturity, and with a long-term aim.2

University of Michigan’s Assistant Professor of Education, J. Gary Knowles, conducted a study that concluded that most homeschool students were prepared for the real world. Knowles surveyed 53 adults who were homeschooled. He found that 2/3 were married, which is the norm for adults their age. None were unemployed or on welfare. He found more than 3/4 felt that being homeschooled had helped them develop relationships with people from varying levels of society. More than 40% attended college and 15% of those had completed a graduate degree. Nearly 2/3 were self-employed, 96% said that they would want to be homeschooled if given the opportunity to do it over again. He stated, “Many mentioned a strong relationship engendered with their parents while others talked about self-directed curriculum and individualized pace that a flexible program of homeschooling permitted.”3

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  1. “Socialization Practices of Christian Home School Educators in the State of Virginia,” a study of ten Virginia home school families, performed by Dr. Kathie Carwile, appeared in the Home School Researcher, Vol. 7, No. 1, December 1991.
  2. Thomas C. Smedley, M.S., “Socialization of Home Schooled Children: A Communication Approach,” thesis submitted and approved for Master of Science in Corporate and Professional Communication, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, May 1992. (Unpublished.)
  3. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, study of home school adults by Assistant Professor of Education, J.Gary Knowles, Associated Press article entitled, “University Study Says Home-Taught Children Won’t Become Social Misfits,” appearing in the Grand Haven Tribune 9 March 1993.

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