The time has come, the walrus said… Since we began blogging folk have been asking me what I think about socialization and homeschooling. I keep putting it off – because for some folk it is really a contentious issue and for me it just isn’t!
Now I do have high expectations of that word socialization. Socialization, for me means being able to interact with people from all walks of life, in all age groups and across all sorts of cultures. It really is our job to teach our kids the social skills needed to get on in life: The basics from posting a letter to communicating their hopes and dreams to a close friend.
I have got better at providing places for them to master these skills. But there is a learning curve – and like most mothering, you do get better at it as you go along. Also teaching life-skills including socialization is all about giving them the tools and enabling them to master the skill for themselves.
Here are se7en socialization questions that I have been asked in the last while, from non-homeschoolers, homeschoolers, teachers and moms in general. Please keep in mind that this post is entirely my own opinionated opinion so as usual take what you need and leave the rest.
- Will home-schooled kids have the necessary communication skills for life: I have heard that they won’t have had the daily practice of interacting with peers. As a home school mom I am a little less dependent on the idea that my kids need to be in a classroom with a couple of other kids, their own age, all day every day to master these skills, especially since hopefully most of their time in school is spent doing some work. Similarly with extra-murals most of us pay for extra-murals so that they can try out new skills. Most of us are not paying a fortune for extra-murals so that our kids can master social skills (and if you are – there are more frugal ways!). For example my kids have music lessons and any “socialization” they get is a bonus but primarily I want them to learn music! I think that it is unrealistic to think that when they are in a learning environment that they are actually learning social skills, when I want them to master social-skills I need to place them in an environment that they can socialize in.
- What about loneliness: We had a friend I hadn’t seen in a while stop by last week, her kid is in school all day every day and is terribly busy with activities. Her biggest worry is that he is lonely. He never has time to play with friends he is in so deep with commitments and spending his days launching from one event to the next that he doesn’t have time to make friends. I really think that leaving kids amidst kids they will find a friend. One of my kids will come home from an afternoon at the beach with ten new “best” friends. Another child of mine may have made one good friend. Left to their own devices kids will make friends if they are given the time. It is our duty to provide them with the skills they need to interact with all sorts of folk and we need to give them the tools required to select friends as well.
- What do you do if you have a terribly shy child: When my kids were little we had a teacher friend who said she would never homeschool because she had a previously home-schooled child in her class who was dreadfully shy and hardly spoke. Frankly everyone has their own personality and being in school or home-schooled isn’t going to make the difference. Some kids are madly gregarious and some aren’t we need to be aware of our kids personalities and encourage them whoever they are. One of my kids is really gregarious, one is really precocious, another is more reserved. One is great at one-on-one friendships and another is thrilled to be immersed in a crowd. I have to account for that in our social interactions. We invite folk round for each of our kids and if there is someone they especially show favor towards then I make sure we invite them most often, simply because relationships take time.
- What about the kid that needs other kids around them to survive: Just like we need to be with friends we also need to spend time doing things on our own. I think it is a life-skill that will stand by them throughout their life if our kids have learnt to be content with doing things on their own. Like most things in life we need to find the right balance between socializing and down time. My concern is for kids that are totally launched into a whirlwind social life and they don’t have tome to just be… it is not very realistic and is unlikely to lead to contented adults, happy to spend an evening home alone from time to time!
- Can homeschool kids get enough social interaction: I would have to respond and say YES, even more than enough in this mad world I have found homeschool mom’s that completely over-compensate in the socialization department! I get this from so many homeschool mom’s who are wondering how to fit actual schooling into their mad schedule of social engagements. It is the one topic that homeschoolers in general seem to feel a need to defend yet it is one of those areas where they go totally mad and spend their lives trying to get more and more “interaction” for their kids. I am satisfied that my kids are getting the right mix and variety of people interactions. They don’t need more and they don’t have time for more. But there are a lot of homeschool moms, especially moms of one or two kids, that are swamped with guilt that there kids are not getting enough time to “interact”. Signing up for every homeschool morning or every “mom’s at home” activity is just not the answer!!! I found out very quickly that spinning from one homeschool event to the next group meeting became a nightmare… They were all about educational activities (guilt bells ringing: My child might be missing a great learning opportunity), the activities were at best flimsy and the amount of rushing and scheduling was just ridiculous. I declared an outright ban on homeschool collectives and meet-ups. Frankly we have never looked back!
- Homeschool mom’s are so-overprotective, they don’t seem able to let go of their kids: I got this one from a teacher friend and what can I say, except she is right. I have found that kids in school get dropped off here and there and left to their own devises. I have also found lots of home-school moms who go into their child’s extra-mural activities and sit with them, or worse sit at the back with other moms and chatter and generally disrupt!!! And for me there are few things worse than an adult interacting for their child: Before the child has a chance to greet you the mother says: “Say hello, Johnny”… before the kid can exercise his manner skills: “Say thank-you, Johnny” – poor kid – no smelling the roses for that one!! I have found leaving my kids to sort themselves out builds much better long-term relationships between teachers, other parents and peers. Yes, they make mistakes, yes they forget themselves, yes they make idiots of themselves. But when they get it right, and they do that a lot too (!), what a pleasure for them!
- I feel so isolated as a home-school mom – I spend all my days with small kids and I need adult time too: The reality is that especially for moms with very young kids it is not so much the kids social needs in question but the mom’s. So in the name of endless rounds to “extra-murals” for preschoolers where the moms sit on the side chatting… There should be a big extra-mural club for moms to get together and have coffee and a chat while their kids play! I don’t think mom’s should be made to feel guilty of their need to interact and socialize. I think mom’s should call a spade a spade and find ways to meet other mom’s and interact with them. I would much rather go round and visit friends and let the kids play and chat away an afternoon than have a weekly extra-mural to dash to, to pay for and to schedule all in the name of meeting up with a mom friend!
I have had a mom say she won’t let her kids do private lessons without her because she was worried about abuse and I have to say abuse comes on little cat feet and happens most often in our own homes under our very noses. I suggest that if you are concerned about abuse give your child the tools to react to it in good time. Teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Play “what if” games… You don’t have to spell out every possible hideous scenario but you do have to tell them what they can do if they feel worried or afraid… and that some people nice as they look are actually baddies out to get them. Kids get that… Mine know if it doesn’t feel right, if they are told to keep a secret, if you are offered a puppy/candy to get into someone’s car for example, then scream the world down – and they have no trouble practicing either!!!
That’s enough I actually have to attend to our house and home! But I am sure that this post will just raise more questions! Fire Away I will try and answer in the comments but if there are a heap then I will happily do another post for you.
If you liked this post then you may well like our other post that covered lots of socializing interactions: Se7en Reasons Why Children Don’t Play Anymore…
I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.
22 Replies to “Se7en Socialization Questions Homeschoolers Ask and Get Asked…”
Thanks O, this post was a long time coming I think it just didn’t want to be written! You have a good weekend!
I’m not a homeschooler (little guy is too young for school now, but we plan to send him to public school), but the socialization question always astounds me. I used to substitute teach in our local school and there are PLENTY of public schooled kids who have the socialization problems.
Good post. I’m sorry that those of you who homeschool have to deal with these assumptions about you and your kids.
Great post and blog! 🙂
well done is right!
when I read the “hs moms are over-protective” I had to admit to that one! 🙂
Not in a “don’t climb that you’ll fall and break your head” way– never, that isn’t my style (and my babes have always been high and cautious climbers), but in a “I want to hang out with you and make sure you have the happiest and healthiest start to your life as possible” sense.
I like my children! I love having fun with them. If it makes me over-protective because I want to be in their lives (that does not mean that I do not respect their relationships and leave their private thoughts to themselves) and to know them, then so be it.
And I absolutely agree with the “shy” thing. There are plenty of shy children in school, for heaven’s sake.
Hi L, One of the big anti-homeschool assumptions is that homeschool kids are un-socialized. I guess that’s why I took so long to actually write a post on it!!! Unfortunately kids are kids and some master social skills easily and some take longer, if they attend school or not. I think that it is better to spend energy helping those who need help rather than trying to find fault in any system. Often it is easier to try blame a situation for a problem than to get involved and help an individual. Glad you liked the post, and the peep into the other side so to speak.
Hi H, Glad you liked it! Have a great weekend!
Hi S – So glad my comments are working for you! I so understand about wanting to spend every minute with your kids, and have definitely erred on the over-protective side… and would never ever leave them unattended if they were not comfortable with it! But as they have got older (and some of mine are a couple of years ahead of yours down the road of life) I realize that in order to master themselves and their social skills they need me out of the way so that they can learn to communicate what they want to without me being the great interpreter!!! You all have a great weekend!!!
awesome post! im definitely going to be adding your answers to my memory bank!
jessie may only be 2, but she is 1 of those shy kids. she used to run away from groups of people and kids. even as a tiny babe, she did not like stargers or unfamiliar situations. she still susses things out for weeks/months until she is comfortable.
many people have told me to take her to school and throw her in the deep end to get her over it! how rude!
Stephanie i agree wholeheartedly!
hi again just had to comment on this one, i have just decided to try home schooling with my 12 year old and that is the question i always get asked and it is very rare to do this in the uk i dont know anyone who homeschools lol but i must say that my daughter is very very shy and extremly uncomfortable in new situations and has been in school for some 10 odd years iam hoping that hs will change that , ill let you know.
Hi L, Glad you liked the post!!! I just can’t understand why throwing someone into the deep end for any situation is a solution! Really it never works and going alongside someone and helping them seems to work so much better! She is who she is rather help her to cope in a situation than deal with a situation… Really I am totally with you – How rude!!! You take care!
Hi T, All the best with your new adventure with your daughter. I have to say Homeschooling isn’t going to change who she is but hopefully being at home will give her the tools and confidence she needs to handle the situations she finds herself in. You will find that many people are skeptical about homeschooling especially with older kids but give it time and the results will be all the proof you need. Have a good weekend!
Good post. I related to issues – made mistakes – been there, done that! With one child, got into a total panic with our base of 4 close families /child’s friends having moved away in a space of 6 mths. With prayer and finding opportunities, and me getting out of the way(!!), my 12 yr old son has made some wonderful new friends with parents that have become our friends too. He is going to a great youth group with godly leaders that he admires – he’s introduced 5 other children to the group – it is a place where he can be himself without us around. I have come to realise that they need space where they can work it all out for themselves: not only with best buddies but in wider groups. In our choice of Youth Group it was important that the leaders are high calibre – that will make up for some kids that are not. Yes, I do still worry at times – is he getting enough interaction with other kids? But we have to rely on our God to give us ‘all things we need for life and godliness.’
Hi Se7en, When my daughter attended pre-primary school, Moms used to comment about how shy she was. It used to annoy me intensely as that was her personality and she was different to her younger sister. She was shy, so what. She is now 14 years old and has grown into an outgoing and confident teenager. Why do people think they can make comments which are not always pleasant ones?
Hi M, Good to hear from you! Don’t you wish that when we became parents we knew that it was a whole learning curve and that we grow-up with our kids! We really don’t have to know everything before we get to each step. Even with all the mistakes we make our kids generally turn out fine and our love for them is unwavering!!! It is great that you have found a niche for your boy that you are happy and comfortable with, some folk never find it!!! Have a great weekend!!!
Hi S, It doesn’t matter how often people read: “Don’t Label them, don’t label them…” Well done to you and your daughter for not getting stuck with a label! It really is just mean to put anyone in a labeled box and not being patient enough for them to find their feet and explore their options! I am really with you on this and if it isn’t a compliment just don’t say it – whatever you think! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!
I have a friend in the UK who homeschools. I talk with her on an online homeschool board that I belong to.
The homeschool board helps for my own socializing!
Also, I know a woman who brought her 9-year-old home to homeschool. The poor girl was being called fat by her same-age classmates, and was making herself throw up her lunch every day at school (the girl was actually extremely thin). She was also being sexually harrassed by these same boys, who made very lewd and suggestive comments to her. When she defended herself, SHE was the one who was in trouble at school. Her father was furious that the boys could not be punished for their words, but that the girl was punished because she defended herself.
They took her home. Her schoolwork improved (which had started suffering) and she became aware of her real worth.
Hi T, One hears of the most dreadful reasons that folk take their kids out of school. Unfortunately, while sticks and stones do break bones, words actually do the most awful harm. I am so grateful that my kids have been able to avoid this kind of abuse all in the name of socialization. Good for her folks for doing something about it rather than leaving her to “cope.” Obviously not all school experiences are this dreadful, but I think folk can be unaware of how much of this is going on. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Have a good week!!!