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Saturday, April 5, 2008

The "S" Word

This is the fourth and final post in a series on homeschooling.

When people find out we homeschool, the first question we ALWAYS get asked is the good old "What about Socialization?" My thought; What about it? Seriously, out of all the concerns outsiders have in regards to homeschooling, this one more than any other concerns them the most. Here is my thought;

That is from a Tshirt my husband has, I just love it!( you can find this and other great homeschool tees here) But back to the point on a more serious note. Why when we are talking education, is socialization peoples biggest concern? It is not only friends and family who worry about this, if you read my other posts in this series I shared that the public schools teacher was more concerned about my sons socialization than his academics!

My question is; is public school where I want my child to get his socialization skills? Does public school really represent real life socialization? Where else in your child's life is he going to be age segregated? I have worked in all kinds of fields and participated in all kinds of community events, and never have I worked with strictly all 38 year olds! EVER!

In real life we will work and play with others of all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of education, all religions, races, often does public school prepare us for this?

Most schools service children in the same neighborhood, and then separate children according to their academic levels as well as age levels. So children are only "socializing" with others from very similar backgrounds.

Now lets take a look at my family, which I think fairly represents homeschoolers in general. My children regularly participate in AWANA, Boyscouts, and Tae Kwon Do. We also take advantage of any events in the community and through churches and such. Sometimes as homeschoolers we go to extremes to take care of our children's "socialization" needs! After several years of this though, we have pared it down to these activities.

At Tae Kwon Do my oldest son became an instructor and also participated in the Jr. Olympics. He became captain of the Olympic Sparring Team. As such he has instructed, trained and befriended children as young as 4 and adults as old as 65! Now to me, that is real life socialization. These people come from neighborhoods in at least four different towns that I am aware of and are of all different economic backgrounds. Here we have met and befriended families literally from all over the world, and of all different faiths.

Through such activities my children have been exposed to wonderful adult mentors, rather than tired burnt out teachers who are overworked, over stressed and not paid or appreciated for all the hard work they do!

Would I rather have my children learn socialization skills from other children or from a rich variety of people of all ages?

I don't know what it is about this one issue that makes so many concerned about homeschooling, I really don't. Perhaps these people met one or two children who seemed to be lacking in social skills and spread the word, and from there this MYTH of homeschoolers not properly being socialized began.

Homeschoolers just like children from public or private schools come from all sorts of backgrounds and some are shy and some are outgoing. I don't think it can be blamed on homeschooling alone. Take my own children for instance. I have one boy who is extremely outgoing. He is the center of attention everywhere we go(he makes sure!) My middle boy is the extreme opposite. He is so shy it is almost painful for us as parents to watch. He just doesn't do well in social settings. I am happy to say it is improving, but it is still an issue. Then there's my oldest who is more middle of the road. He is well liked and has friends, and takes on leadership positions in activities he attends, but he also likes his alone time.

There was a time after nine years of homeschooling that I was burnt out and needed a bit of a break. I put the two youngest in our local private school for a semester. My children were in separate classes. My middle sons teacher went to the administrator of the school with her concerns about his shyness and social awkwardness. She told the administrator she was sure it was a result of him being homeschooled his whole life. The administrator giggled and led the teacher to another class and opened the door. There was a child who was outgoing, laughing, helping other students and being a motor mouth. The administrator said, then how do you explain this? This child is that students brother who also has only been homeschooled up until now!!

My point in sharing that story is that more often than not, personalities are just what they are. They aren't a result of public schooling or homeschooling in most cases. Children are born the way God intended them to be. I have two children with completely opposite personalities, and they both have only been homeschooled with the exception of that one semester.

Just like I don't blame public school for some children who are obnoxious, please don't blame homeschooling on that shy, awkward kid you know.

Homeschooling gives us the time and freedom to explore and participate in alot more outside activities then most public school students have time to do. I really just can't think of an argument against homeschooling in regards to the socialization issue that really holds any ground.

I had planned on having one more post about homeschooling, but I am just going to leave it here for now. If you are interested in homeschooling or have any questions you are welcome to comment or email me and I will be happy to answer. If you google "Homeschooling" you will get link after link of helpful websites and resources.

1 comment:

appleleaf said...

What a great post.
Thanks for sharing that school experience. We are definitely meant to be how God made us.
That S word does get on our nerves too. A homeschooling Dad once wrote, "I put my kids into school because of socialisation. And I ended up taking them out because of socialisation."
I was at a homeschool group swimming excursion once, when one of the pool's staff started quizzing me about socialisation, and it was so hard to refrain from saying, "Well, what do you think we're doing now?"
I'll work on that tag, and ask my family to help.