Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


Shelley L. Knudsen Lindauer


Kathleen W. Piercy


Concern over the social development of children who are home schooled has caused parents and educators to question the wisdom of this practice. A review of home-schooling research has not revealed whether a difference exists between the social skills of homeschooled children and children who attend public schools. This study explored the socialization of home-schooled children by comparing Social Skills Rating System scores of home-schooled children with the scores of their mothers and a comparison sample of publicly-schooled children. Forty-six home-schooled children (23 boys and 23 girls), their mothers, and 39 publicly-schooled children (16 boys and 23 girls) participated in the study. Children and their mothers were asked to report the frequency of social behaviors engaged in by the child. Publicly-schooled girls reported engaging in more positive social behaviors than did home-schooled girls. No differences were found between publicly-schooled and home-schooled boys' scores. Mothers of home-schooled children reported their children's behaviors as more assertive than did their children, while children reported their behaviors as more cooperative than did their mothers.

Home-schooling mothers' and their children's perceptions of socialization were also explored by interviewing I 0 mother-child dyads. Results of qualitative analyses revealed that acceptance of, and the ability to communicate well with individuals of varying ages rather than association with same-aged peers was a key concept in the home-schooling perception of socialization. Home-schooling families believed that their perceptions of socialization were different from non-home-schooling families, who, they believed, focused more on same-age peer interaction. Findings also revealed that the family was seen as the primary socializing agent by home-schooling families. However, they were aware of, and tried to include, other positive socializing agents that could influence their children's social development.