I have come up with 6 reasons why public schools are one of the worst places to learn social skills. If children come out of public school with social graces, I place most of the credit on their parents, communities, and the parents of their friends. NOT on the public school system. I will post these six reasons separately (because I'm very opinionated about this and need space to vent.)
Reason 1: You only associate with children your same age.
REASON 2: You only have friends the same gender as you.
In my elementary school that I went to when I was growing up, there were cafeteria tables that lined two walls. One wall of tables was the boy's side, and the other wall of tables was the girl's side. It was social suicide to cross that line unless you were very popular.
I know that my school's social habits were not unique. Just watch the first 15 minutes of "Little Manhattan" to get a clear picture of what I'm talking about. Okay, okay, this movie exaggerates the reality of boy and girl relationships (or lack of) in school, but the truth is, in the vast majority of public elementary schools out there, it is very uncool to be friends with the opposite sex. They have cooties. They are into different things then you. It's just not done.
That is, you can't unless it's romantic. Oh yes, having crushes, having a "boyfriend" you write secrets letters (or texts) to, kissing tag, are all within the "okay" social category.
Is it just me, or does something seem wrong here? I know most adults don't see anything wrong with this senario. In fact, many societies present and past have encouraged total gender segregation until marriage. It's completely natural for kids to want to be with their own gender, but in my mind, it should not be socially unacceptable to also be friends with those of the opposite sex before puberty.
What if there's no "first boy/girl party" or fist outing with both boys and girls? What if parties and outings always included both genders from the get go? Then when they get to the age of puberty, multi-gender parties and outings won't be awkward or about flirting or anything a parent might worry about. It would just be natural because, well, that's what they've always done.
Homeschool by nature lends itself to constant boy/girl contact and friendship. Again, families get together with families, and although for the most part boys split off with boys and girls with girls, there's just not that many people in a homeschool group to choose from, and boys and girls are forced together more often. Parties and outings include siblings getting together with another family's siblings, and gender is usually mixed.
In my experience of watching many homeschoolers throughout the years and from my own bias theories, it seems to me that when a children are in an environment where they are able to be friends with those of the opposite gender from birth through adolescence, they are less likely to be a sexually charged youth.
Also (now this really is a Lindy thesis, and I am no expert) it seems to me, that if the definition of what a boy or girl SHOULD be is not so regimented, that there is less "gender confusion." Hear me out with this one: In public school, your friends should be your own gender, and boys are all about sports, super heroes, war games, and bugs. Girls are all about dance, disney princesses, hair and clothes. If a child didn't fit in the right category, then I can understand how that child might start questioning their gender orientation (especially in a world like ours.) But if home schooled Mike wants to play dress up with his homeschool buddy Jenny, no one's making fun of him or telling him he's acting like a girl. Chances are, he's thinking "it's quite obvious I am a boy, and I really like playing with Jenny, and that's just fine."
Okay, so "Reason 2" is more of an opinion then a fact. But I feel (obviously) that it is a valid opinion none the less.