Every homeschool parent who has been at it for a while gets the "socialization question." Songs, magazine articles, and piles of blog posts have been written about how to answer. Some parents obsess about finding other children of the exact same age for their kids to hang out with, trying to recreate the socialization model of institutional schooling. Others worry that they aren't doing enough.
I've always been dubious about the value of the socialization model embraced by those who ask the question. Do I really want my 12 year old son learning his social skills from other 12 year old boys? Nah, didn't think so.
Instead, we've exposed our kids to people of all ages. They've had friends and hung out with kids who are older and younger than them, but their main influence has been us. We sometimes hear the story about the homeschooled teen who can't fit in when inserted into a group of his peers, as if this is proof that there is something lacking in his social training. Well, I'll take that anecdote and raise it one.
(An aside--as pointed out by my very wise 18 year old son--you don't take a kid from the nerd table in the local high school lunchroom and throw him in with the jocks. Or vice versa.)
Last week my middle son, Jonathan, went to a music camp in another state. He only knew one other person at the camp, a female, three years older than him. The first day he was a bit put off--groups of teen boys just aren't very civilized--but he managed to get along and by the end of the week was looking forward to going back. (And won an award that will partially pay for him to do so!)
The friend who invited him to go was also a homeschooler. We have known Mary since she and Patrick were in the same Kindergarten class. They followed us into homeschooling. Mary is an only child, and more than any other homeschooled young adult that I know, has mainly hung around with adults. When she was around her peers it was mostly because of her music activities, not because of any contrived opportunities for social interaction. Mary is a lovely, poised, well-spoken young woman, and apparently we adults aren't the only ones who think so. When kids would ask Jonathan why he came so far to go to camp he told them that he was Mary's friend, and all would be clear. Everyone knew Mary!
Last year Mary won two awards at the camp that spoke to her high skills and the impression she had made on the adults. This year Mary won the Leadership Award, because she was also highly regarded by her peers.
So take heart homeschool moms. It isn't necessary to drive all of the gas out of your tank to get to group events. You don't have to make sure that your child has a large crowd of age appropriate buddies. Of course, this doesn't mean you want to lock them in the basement, either. But there is much to be said for teaching our children how to behave and to respect other people.