One of the biggest question you hear when people find out you are thinking about, or have decided to homeschool is" What About Socialization?" The first thing you need to consider is the term socialization. The definition says that 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)." I don't know about you, but I certainly do not want my child to be "socialized" in a manner approved by the the Public School culture where God is not allowed, any type of behavior in encourages (not going into detail but you know what I am referring to) drugs are rampant, and bullying is the norm. I am not worried about lack of "socialization" of my homeschooled students.
Socializing is something completely different. To socialize means to: talk to and do things with others in a friendly way. We should socialize with other people and that is what most people are referring to when worried about children who are homeschooled. Children (and adults too) need to be around other people. That does NOT mean they need to be in an age segregated classroom 30+ hours a week. This kind of socializing does not in any way prepare children for life when they become adults and go into the world. Children need to learn how to be in a variety of different types of social situations.
There are numerous social opportunities for homeschoolers. So much so that it can be overwhelming to pick and choose! Even in small towns, the number of homeschoolers are growing every year and there are many homeschool groups forming to get together for leaning experiences, field trips, and support meetings for the parents. There are many other activities that homeschooled children can be a part of: church, Sunday School, sports, girl scouts, boy scouts, music lessons, art classes, gymnastics, karate, dance lessons, clubs, and one of my favorites 4 H. That is just a few of the available options.
The key I think is finding a good balance. You don't want to spend all of your time "socializing" and not able to get any work done at home, but you also don't want to be in the house all of the time just you and the children. There has to be a healthy mix. What the means to each family will depend on the family. Some families like to be out of the house doing something everyday of the week. Others are happy with activities that only occur once or twice a month. That is something you have to decide for yourself.
When looking at the different choices for things that we can be involved in, one of the biggest things that I look at is whether or not it is family friendly. We have a big family. It is important for me for us to do things together as a family as much as possible. I do not want my children going in twenty different directions all of the time. So our activities are things we can do together: church, soccer, art classes, and 4 H. When our homeschool group has field trips and activities that everyone can attend we go to those as well. On occasion we will do things that is for a specific age, but that is the exception not the rule. Another thing that is important to me is parent involvement. I am NOT comfortable dropping my children off and leaving, especially with people that I do not know. So, if there is something we are going to be involved in, it has to be OK for a parent to be there. Often this leads to us (my husband or I) ending up in a leadership position (4 H leaders, soccer coach, Sunday School teacher, Nursery Worker) but that is fine for us. We want to be involved as much as possible in our children's lives. That is not to say that they never get dropped off at any activities. Chelsea has participated in quite a few 4 H activities and church activities that I could not attend. She is older and I was sending her with people I could trust. Another thing that is important to me is affordability. We have to live on a budget. We have 9 people in our family living on one income. We have to make choices and choose activities that fit into our budget. Period. So even if a field trip sounds like a great, fun educational experience, if it is too expensive, we are staying home. I like my children to have a variety of fun, educational learning experiences, but also an opportunity to serve others as well. There are many service projects you can do as a family or with other families such as preparing food or serving at a soup kitchen, making decorations or visiting a nursing home, visiting shut ins...area clean up, food drives, and so many more.
I never have to worry about not having enough opportunities for my homeschooled children to socialize. I am often amazed at their ability to talk to and relate to a wide variety of people of all ages. One thing I have noticed too is that peer approval is not as important to them (that is a VERY good thing!) They can do things they are interested in whether or not any of their friends are or not. Don't worry about "socialization" find a good balance of social activities and real life experiences for your homeschooled child, and they will be better off than those who have been "socialized."