Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Matters: Socialization

If you homeschool, you've heard this question.
If you do not, perhaps you have asked it...

What about socialization?

It is the inevitable question or concern voiced by just about anyone who has never homeschooled when they find out we do.

This question has been asked by my kids' teachers when we took them out of public school, by family members, by strangers at the park, by colleagues at work.

People who would never challenge me if I were to spank my child, or smoke in the house, or work 60 hours a week and leaving them in daycare until bedtime each night, find it perfectly acceptable to tell me we are depriving our children of some magical socialization experience by taking them out of public school.

Do I rest easy every night knowing all of our educational decisions are correct?
Heck NO!!
I have three degrees, including a doctoral degree, in education. I AT LEAST as qualified as any teacher my kids ever had in public school. Yet, the academic part of their home education is what keeps me awake at night. It's what I spend hours researching. It's what I tweak on a daily basis to make sure they are getting the information they need in the way they best learn it. 

Do I rest easy every night knowing this decision is correct in regard to socialization? 

What is socialization exactly? Merriam Webster says…to make social; to fit into or train for a social environment

Our kids are learning…
·        to stand in line to check out library books
·        to share spare change or a hot meal with a homeless person
·        to have thoughtful conversations with college students, with community leaders, with older and younger kids, with peers, with anyone willing to have a thoughtful conversation with them
·        to serve others by visiting a nursing home, picking up trash, delivering candy to community helpers who have to work on holidays, rescuing strays, or bringing in groceries without being asked
·        to navigate a large group of fifty kids in gym class
·        to value the joy of a few really close friends who accept them without conditions…and to be a friend without conditions
·        to be on time to field trips and appointments, even when there are no consequences for being late
·        to follow rules and laws but use the proper procedures to question or change those that are not just or with which they do not agree

I could go one, but I’ll stop there.

The point is, they are being socialized by taking part in real-life society. There is only one place in society my kids are missing out on because they are homeschooled…public school. They get a lot more actual, constructive, social time with people of all ages and situations of all kinds than they would by spending six hours a day in a classroom. 

So, yes…I am confident that my children will learn to navigate their world with grace, thoughtfulness, empathy, and confidence.

Thanks for asking!

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