Can I just say how sick to death I am of hearing that "concern"? Why is "socialization" (or lack thereof) the one thing so many homeschool opponents choose to focus on? I suppose it is because people can't really pick on any other aspect of homeschooling. "Hmm, overall, homeschooled children excel in every academic area, so we can't say the kids aren't learning. I know, let's say they weird and unsocialized."
Do people think we sit at home all day, just the three of us, never interacting with the outside world? Do they think my children stand, noses pressed against the glass storm door, watching longingly as the children on the street play together? Do they think we drive past the park and just wave at the children playing there?
Why do people think that spending time in traditional school is the only appropriate way for children to socialize with other children?
Why is sitting in a crowded, noisy lunch room at a table with 25 other children who are trying to eat their lunches in 20 minutes while the lunch lady yells at them better for children than a group of 12 homeschooled children eating a leisurely lunch at a picnic table outside?
Why is being teased on the playground at school better socially than a multi-aged group of children playing a game of football after our science class?
Why is my child looking at pictures of a naked woman on another child's cell phone in the hall at school (yes, my child saw this) preferable to him taking a trip to the art museum with a couple of other homeschooled children?
Never in a million years would I go up to a parent of a traditionally schooled child and ask, "Don't you worry how all the negative stuff that happens at public school will affect your child's self-esteem?" Yet so many non-homeschooling parents feel free to question and criticize what I'm doing and talk about how it will negatively affect my children. (By the way, as a parent of two children who attend public school, I do worry about all the negative things they experience there.)
Here's the real story. I find the "socialization" issue to be a challenge, but it's not in the way you would think. We have so many opportunities to socialize with other children that I have to carefully choose what we do or we would never be home to do our schoolwork.
We have been on more field trips than I can count. We have had play dates at the park. We "school" with a group of 10 other children every Monday. We go to the gym and play with other kiddos. We meet with our co-op for Culture Club. My children take lessons, go to church, play outside with the dozen or so other kids who live on our block. I think they'll be fine.
Really, the horse is dead. Let's stop beating it.