Thursday, May 17, 2012

{TOS Crew} The Dreaded "S" Word

If you don't know what I mean by the title of this blog post, than you most likely haven't started homeschooling or haven't been doing so for long. I have been homeschooling now for almost 11 years and I still hear this question quite frequently....

"What about socialization?" 

First let's define what is really meant by this question. defines socialization as "a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position." 

Okay, so let's get real for just a moment. I remember way back when during my own public school education years. I spent 6-8 hours a day at the local school and of that time the majority was spent in a classroom being quiet while the teacher lectured/taught and we learned/did school work. All told there was perhaps an hour a day  - spaced throughout the entire day - when I was able to "socialize" with my friends. Socialize as in talk and chat and play and interact. 

Let me put this into perspective. I have three boys ages 15, 11, and eight. While I may complain about my teenager from time to time, I rarely argue with him about his attitude, clothes, or music choices. When I ask him to do a chore for me he typically does so without complaining. I trust him to watch his brothers while I run errands as well as complete all the schoolwork I give him without me watching his every move. Believe me, I know how lucky I am about this. However, the main reason he is like this...he has no peers telling him he shouldn't act this way. This is the behavior we expect from him and that is the behavior we get as a result.

Now, I'm not saying we're extra-special parents with extraordinary kids (well, maybe just a little), but when a child doesn't see how other children act, they will conform to the higher standards - those of their parent. 

Another 11 year old son loves planes. For his recent birthday, my mother-in-law bought him a membership into the local R/C plane club. He is the youngest member by about 30 years - at least. However, when he showed up at his first meeting, he easily conversed with the other members and interacted with them at a very mature level.

The problem with this question is that most people think homeschool means your child never leaves the house. They feel it means that your child never sees another child outside of their siblings - that they rarely get to interact with other children.

My children and I are involved in so many extra activities that I have to limit them. Otherwise we'd be out of the house so much we'd never get any schoolwork done! My boys are active in our church's AWANA program - which means interacting with a variety of age-level kids. They all attend the same 4-H group. Our group has about 15 kids in it ranging in age from 3 (tag-a-long siblings) up to 18 - all working together. Our homeschool group is active and we attend a lot of field trips. Since August we've gone on 16 field trips and we have a few more planned before we finish up our school year.

However, it's really the exact opposite. My children not only interact with other children, but they interact with adults. They aren't stuck in a room all day with their age-peers. Instead, they go about the community interacting with people from varying ages and all different walks of life. They are able to hold a conversation with anyone and not be caught up in the "cool" factor of it all.

In fact, I truly believe that my children, as well as other home educated children, are better equipped to go out in to the world. Typically work environments require people of all ages and walks of life to interact with each other. They are not age-driven. All the 27 year olds aren't grouped together to work and neither are all the 30 year olds. However, that is what we generally require from our children in a typical government school setting. 

So for those that worry about the "s" word, please don't. Really, the bigger concern might be finding the right math curriculum or the best piano teacher, but left to their own devices, socialization is rarely an issue for most children.


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