An article published by the Associate Press, “Home-schooled Children Get along Well” summarized a University of Florida study that found “youngsters taught at home by parents do not lag in social development when compared with those of the same age who attend conventional schools”. According to Larry Shyers who did his doctoral dissertation on the subject , “home-schooled children even behave better because they tend to imitate their parents, while traditionally schooled children model themselves after other children in the classroom. The conclusion: social development depends more on adult contact and less on contact with other children than previously thought”.
One might assume homeschoolers lack needed social skills (such as those needed to combat bullying) because they lack regular contact with other school children, but not according to Shyers. Removing a potential victim from an abusive environment is typically frowned upon as just “sheltering” a child from reality, that emotional growth is stunted by being separated as if a bullied student will “get a backbone” by weathering the storm. This reasoning often not presented with tips to defeat the bully!
Shyers study supports the idea that social development (which includes the moral fortitude and proper reaction to combat a bully) is best learned from being around parents. In other words, a child doesn’t learn to stand up to bullies by being exposed to their threats but through contact with parents in the mentoring process – novel idea! But just a pat on the back with, “You’ll get through it, just ignore them” is ineffective. Let them know that bullying behavior is “abnormal”, they are not alone – “others get bullied”, “bad behaving people” are not worth being friends with, “God will judge them one day.”, “school is not your whole life”, etc. (or other values you as parents want to instill).
The point of this article is to support the fact that homeschoolers are not being sheltered when removed from the dysfunction of a conventional school setting, but are more inclined to benefit from it. Proactive messages given in a segregated environment give bullied students something to “imitate” as they benefit from parental contact. Formulating and sharing values in a so-called sheltered environment is not a negative thing. Based on Shyers study it is an effective strategy to separate a victim from a bullying environment and teach them social skills for coping. The negative connotation of “sheltering” your child is only an illusion by those that put more value in a “do not offend anyone” agenda over instilling proactive, positive coping messages.