Home Ed kids are Different
Before you leave "the system" (and sometimes even after) you heard this said as a criticism. They are "weird" and "not normal".
This is of course a great generalisation. School is about conformity. It isn't so much that school "makes kids normal" as it punishes and shames those who are different. This in turn, makes children shame and punish those who are different.
I am of the opinion that HE children are different. I have sat and watched bunches of HE kids play together.
There is no age clumping or gender clumping. They do not organise themselves into the kinds of groups you might expect. They tend to be focused on imaginative play, cooperative even when confrontational (super heroes require a villain after all). They talk more, and scream less often. The risks they take are calculated ones and not generally to "show off".
Their play is immersive, narrative and revolves around identity or character. If this was a bunch of adults we would call this role play, or LARP.
There are on-going studies being done about the therapeutic effects of this kind of role play for adults.
We know it helps educate, motive and foster empathy as well as expand the kids knowledge of the different parts of the self. It is hard to see yourself as a hero or heroic if you have never played as the hero.
When schooled children enter a park mostly filled with HE kids two things usually happen. No matter how big or small the group or what age their play is very different.
Firstly their play is usually competitive and "high risk" if they are boys and "quiet" and seated if a girl. The genders do not mix, with the exception to "show off" or confront each other. Their play is usually brief bursts of physical competition followed loud vocalisation without much meaning except "being loud".
The HE kids acknowledge and may try to engage but the "schooled" kids simply seem to lack the language and ability to play narratively. The HE kids soon lose interest and play their game around or away from them.
School seems to have deprived at least some of these children of the universal language of play or warped it into a narrow band of "acceptable play". It side-lines girls entirely and put the focus of physical prowess and domination.
Learning to play is a hugely important part of childhood. All social animals learn through play. It crosses gender, race, age and even species. Mixing with other children who HE in social groups is so important. Not because of the support and educational value of play in general but because it is the doorway to a deeper and valuable kind of play, and way of being.
Home education is far too important to be taken seriously.