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The Shy Homeschool Child

Some people stereotype all homeschoolers as socially incompetent. When they actually meet a quiet or shy homeschool child, they feel justified in their assessment. However, it is simply a statstical reality that a certain percentage of children, regardless of where they are educated, will be less socially outgoing.

Let's watch a shy homeschool child

At one of the homeschool conventions last year I observed this scenario at our booth:

Two homeschool boys, about twelve years old, came up to the booth laughing and having a good time. Everything about them seemed to indicate they were the kind of kids that are usually deemed "popular." Their clothes, their behavior, their confidence all spelled "cool."

They bought a set of blaster balls which we have at the booth to entertain kids (and my husband.) For several minutes they stood there kidding each other and blasting away.

Then I saw another boy about the same age slowly approaching. Everything about him indicated he was a shy, socially awkward child. His haircut, glasses, clothes - even the timid way he reached for his wallet indicated he was one of the shy homeschoolers we all hear about.

After purchasing his own blaster balls, he stood a few feet from the other boys and somewhat awkwardly tried to crack his; and succeeded after a few attempts. He made a comment to the others, who looked at him and answered. He took a step closer to them. Several minutes later, after repeated cracks and bangs and comments, the three walked off together.

There were several things about this scenario which interested me: the courage of the quieter child in approaching his louder, more confident peers; and the ease with which the other two accepted the outsider.

For those who persist in saying homeschoolers are not adequately socialized I would like to ask this question: How successful would this socially awkward boy in his hand-me down clothes have been at approaching the popular kids at your local middle school and gaining equal acceptance?

What percentage of children are shy?

Actually, I do not have any statistical information on the percentage of children, homeschool or otherwise, who are shy. If we could measure "shy-ness", we would have a bell-shaped curve. A certain percentage of children will be less socially out-going in any population studied.

However, if a shy child is homeschooled, others often believe their quietness is caused by homeschooling. Here's a simple test: were they quieter or more shy than other children their age before they started kindergarten?

Social Confidence and "Turf"

Children and adults demonstrate more social confidence when they are "on their own turf." We are all familiar with the image of the new kid on the block, or in the classroom, or the new employee the first day at work.

People tend to be quieter and less out-going when they are not on familiar territory. Of course there are those who are out-going all the time, and people who are quiet all time; but the majority of people are less out-going in unfamiliar situations.

When a homeschooler goes to a local school for testing or registration, he or she may seem like shy with less confidence than the other kids simply because they are not on their own turf. When they are in a group setting of which they are a part, they join in with the same level of confidence as the others.

Should a shy child be homeschooled?

Some have argued that shy children particularly should not be homeschooled, and that they need the classroom environment more than others.

For several reasons, this is incorrect. First, their quieter personality is not a disease to be treated. They should be accepted and given the same level of freedom to pursue their interests as anyone else.

Second, children who are shy or socially awkward are often picked on at school. This phenomenon is extremely common and well-known. The net effect may be that the child becomes more socially withdrawn.

Finally, we should appreciate the contribution made by quieter individuals who do not demand a piece of the spotlight for themselves. Society often does not recognize them and school children virtually never do. However, they should not have the opportunity for a high-quality, individualized education denied to them because of other people's prejudices.

Social advantages obtained by the quiet child

"My daughter is six, going on sixteen."

Have you ever heard anyone brag about a child like that?

Think about it - the longer one takes to reach social maturity, the greater the level of maturity. What is likely true of this six year old is that she is demanding, gives her family a lot of attitude, and often dresses in a style that may be more sexually provocative than expected in a six year old.

Is that something to brag about?

Another example of children growing up too soon is those who live on the streets of the inner city. Their own physical and emotional survival forces them to become alert and reactive at a young age. Their families may brag about how "street-smart" the kids are, but unfortunately that may be the only "smarts" the child ever gets. They may be tough on the street, but that may hinder their ability to be socially smart in business, family, or the wider community.

On the other hand, the quieter child has time to grow up. He or she can develop their personal interests, and find friends to their own liking. They can read about less popular topics and gain their own unique knowledge base. There are numerous artistic talents that may be developed, and often are developed by the quieter children.

Quieter children often give up the lime light of popularity for the freedom of their own personal growth and development. No cure is needed.

Help! My child is too shy

Read best ways to boost self confidence. Allow your child to take the long route to social confidence. The results are worth the longer journey.

Other Social Skills Pages

Looking for a Social Skills Checklist? Check out the Social Skills Worksheets.

What are the advantages?Social Advantages of Homeschooling

Tips to Overcoming Social Disadvantages Social Disadvantages of Homeschooling


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