Socialization? This is probably the most asked about topic as people explore the question of homeschooling. More from concerned grandparents than parents seeking out homeschool options but none the less a question that we are asked to answer all too frequently. HSLDA has an article on socialization that gives a basic overview.
After 16 plus years of homeschooling I can say that it is something we have often thought about. Why? I love people. Talking with people, playing, working and just having fun with people is what I thrive on. John is more of a “I take people in small doses” person. Honestly, with two family members with hearing concerns, large groups of people can be challenging to say the least. Regardless we have strived to give our children opportunities to get to know people of all ages and abilities.
How have we done this? Homeschooling Co-ops, Field Trip planning, gym days, classes in our home, summer day camps, volunteering, neighbourhood friends and community groups. I assure you (and everyone who has asked) we have never lived in a bubble (sometimes I wish that we did). We have always taught our children manners and most of the time it has stuck. Some of our children have learned quicker than others and some have learned the hard way.
Have we stressed about socializing our kids? Absolutely not!
Do homeschooling families need to think about socialization? I think that we need to think about raising Godly children that can exist in our world. We should strive to raise children that can think for themselves AND be gracious about their independant thinking. We should not hold so tight to our children that they demand to squirm away from our teachings as soon as they can but rather teach them to look at the world with a critical eye and grow up with a firm understanding of the why as well as the how of each family’s choices. There is a time for the answer, “because I say so” and there is a time to have honest intellectual discussions with older children about the why of our decisions as parents. Timing is everything. Being a social human being is about getting along with others and “not getting along” in a gracious way. Children can learn that we do not always agree and we do not always have to win.
Homeschooling allows children to learn how to be social with all ages, stages and abilities and to learn this with guidance and safety.
Now, those of you who know me well will know that this year our children are all in school. What on earth are we doing? Well, to be honest, we ask ourselves this almost every day. I will tell you that we are learning alot, quickly. We are learning that just because someone else does something, you do not have to do the same thing. We are learning that some words and actions are unkind or rude. They are not acceptable in our house (or car). We are learning that home is a safe place even when school is not and that the people here at home love you. We are learning that sometimes you need to cry, yell and kick your feet, talk about what is upsetting you and then move on.(a skill some adults cannot manage) Most of all we are learning that God is with us wherever we go and we can always talk with Him. In the words of one of my favourite VBS songs “God is watching over you, 24/7 watching over you”. We have seen God work in amazing ways as we adjust to the culture shock of “school”. Looking at this as our missionary journey has been a huge help in adjusting. Homeschooling and other “schooling” are totally different ways of living.
Socialization happens wherever you are. What we do with it as parents is what matters and how we teach our children to deal with it as well. None of us exists in a bubble and even if we think we do…our bubble gets bigger every day of our lives as we meet people along the way.
Train up your children to be excellent friends to others and they will do well in this world we live in!