Book Review: In Words
The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole
I’ve been working through this book for about a month or so, now. Time required to read a book is usually a good indication of whether it’s a must read or not.
Though not a page turner by any means, this book is required reading for homeschoolers (or beginners like me, anyway). It gives many good discussion points about the social benefits of homeschooling to add to your own resume of ‘confidence in schooling’ as well as to discuss with others who have a more difficult time believing in the legitimacy of home learning.
Non-homeschoolers, though, might find Gathercole’s style of writing a bit argumentative …as if you’re approaching the reading of this book thinking homeschoolers an inward, quiet bunch who prefer to be alone.
The author states research which has found that the aspect of socialization is the ONE thing that truly sets all homeschoolers apart in a POSITIVE way. It was in this vein of passing our own kids through the microscope of societies’ view of a “well socialized child” that led my focus of reading. Reading this book did, indeed, give me more confidence to know that not only will our children be well socialized at the end of our homeschooling process, but because of homeschooling that they will be well socialized.
Gathercole shares research to support this idea by saying "...perhaps the most important unifying factor among all homeschoolsers, and the one that truly makes the homeschooling lifestyle what it is, is that the homeschooling family shares their days. The members of the family share one unified life rather than leading separate lives that intersect only in the evening and on weekends. This element of homeschooling is of the utmost importance to homeschoolers, who consider it the cornerstone of their children’s social development.”
It was important for me to keep in mind as I read, that, Gathercole is not addressing why homeschooling might make a child more academically successful at school. She is, at the heart of the book, addressing "the bottom line that it is socialization itself that sets homeschooling apart and defines and distinguishes it from all other forms of schooling, [and that] it may ironically be the case that socialization is the single most important factor in homeschooling even scholastically. As homeschoolers demonstrate remarkable academic success, it just may be the unique social environment homeschoolers enjoy that make homeschooling so effective".
While a bit laborious to read a book focused on what, at times, might feel like a minute part of a homeschool day filled with curriculum and study, it is really the good socialization of a child in his own family which makes the child capable of using his academic success outside the home.
Other resources as listed in text:
Homeschooling for Excellence, David and Micki Colfax
Family Matters, David Guterson
A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls, Susannah Sheffer
Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto
Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath-You Can Do This!, Terrie Lynn Bittner
Punished by Rewards, and No Contest, Alfie Kohn
The Teenage Liberation Handbook, Grace Llewellyn
Teach Your Own, John Holt