Before I started homeschooling my children, my biggest reluctance with it was the fear of them being socially awkward. After all, most of the homeschoolers I had known or had met up until that time had fit the stereotypical homeschool standard of being a bit "weird" or "off" when it came to social skills.
Seven years into this homeschooling gig, and I am nearly at a spot where I would almost argue the opposite. Homeschooling is a very social way to educate children, and even more, I think it's a more natural way to do so.
The first time we showed up to a homeschool picnic with a bunch of people we didn't know, I was shocked at how children of all ages played together. Big kids grabbed little kids, asked their parents permission to bring them along with the group (I'd never heard kids talk to adults with confidence like I observed at this moment), and went off on adventures together around the park. I just remember feeling so inspired by what I saw. Big kids didn't write off the little ones as annoyances, and little kids happily jumped in with the big kids knowing full well they'd be welcomed. My new-to-the-group children were entirely welcomed. It was an eye-opening moment for me.
Homeschooling allows for the unique opportunity to engage with people of all ages. While there are a lot of age or grade specific co op classes around our city, there are also many all-ages gatherings, classes, and groups. This offers kids the opportunity to work, collaborate, and engage with kids at different stages of development than their own. I believe that this leads to homeschoolers being more accepting of others who are different than themselves.
My kids talk to the mailman, the garbage man, and the neighbors. They go to the store with me. The bank. The DMV. Doctors appointments. And more. They interact regularly throughout the day, primarily, with adults. They're getting to learn social skills from ADULTS, who know much better than children how to interact appropriately (or at least we hope so, right?). Their examples for social behaviors are grown-ups, not 5 and 10 year olds, which (I believe) is a more helpful way of learning to interact in our society appropriately.
Now don't get me wrong, they don't only interact with adults...my kids interact with other kids pretty much every day, whether that is during co-ops, field trips, and/or martial arts classes. They have play dates, neighborhood friends and other participate in seasonal sports. We play with friends A LOT.
I love the balance that my homeschoolers receive in interacting with kids of all ages and adults, alike.
I get told a lot by random adults after they've interacted with my children, "they are so social for homeschoolers!" To which, when I'm in a snarky mood, I sometimes reply, "they're so social because they're homeschoolers!"
Once upon a time, homeschoolers WERE socially isolated. Before the internet, before easy access to groups and classes and activities, before homeschool was more main-stream, homeschoolers often did all their schooling at home, which can absolutely lend to social awkwardness. But it's 2018. Homeschoolers are everywhere. They're doing all the things. They're interacting with ALL the people. Lack of socialization in homeschooling is no longer a concern. (I get it, you know that one homeschool family that is awkward....but how many do you know at your local public school? I'd bet statistically it's the same. Some people are just weird.)
If you've been considering homeschooling but have had concerns about the social aspect of it, I encourage you to think of all the social benefits to homeschooling. Is it different than the norm? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!