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That Dreaded "S" Word
It seems that the question most often asked of homeschooling parents is
"What about socialization??
We have all felt the stifling effect this inevitible query has on our conversations....we know it is coming....*we* know how *we* feel about the "socialization" opportunities available to kids within the public school system, but it is so difficult to counter the well meaning, but often not well thought-out question from friends or family when we know they are genuinely concerned, but not necessarily seeing the homeschool advantage in this ... if they could only step back and see this from the other side.
How positive is the socialization kids receive in the public school system today? It is not a mirror of "real life" as many seem to think. How many people work only with people of their own age? How many parents want their children to get more input on dangerous subjects from their equally ignorant (or, worse, more experienced) peers than from the parents themselves? How many parents really want their children to be essentially unsupervised through much of their formative years? How often do you hear a parent say, "Oh, how wonderful, the latest fashions are so affordable!" If your child happens to have a learning disorder, the social ramifications can be staggering. Then, on an even more serious side, how many parents really feel that their children are safe in the schools today? What message does it send our kids when they have to go through metal detectors or pack searches on their way into a building that is supposed to be the center of their learning?
Certainly, in some areas, children are encouraged to think for themselves, but in far too many schools, it is fit the current chosen stereotype or else...with the "else" being anything from simple rejection to out and out violent treatment.
What would it be like if parents took more of the responsibility for the rearing of their own children?
What if they were actually around for most of their child's questions and experiences during these especially important young years?
What if they took it upon themselves to see to it that their children got to follow their dreams? ...
A friend, Mary, from one of the discussion boards had a great moment - one of those you really wish you'd had a tape recording or video of:
"My 12 yos joined a new soccer team. Nobody knew us. Nobody knew we have always homeschooled. After 2 practices, another mom came to me and poured out compliments about my son. 'He just mixed in so nicely with the team, like he's been with us for years! He is very friendly, and so nice.'I would have just had to offer the woman the option of calling me if she wanted to know more about homeschooling, LOL.
"Five minutes later this woman's dd, age 14, told her mother that she doesn't want to go to her new high school. (Too many loud, wild kids, dd said) Her mother turned to her dd, and said, 'Well, what do you want to do? Homeschool, and become a social misfit?'
"Can you picture the smirk on my face? I did not tell her that we homeschool. She'll find out eventually, I guess."
Many times we meet people who just don't seem to understand how we can "do this" to our children, but if the tables were turned....
I found this wonderfully plausible rendition of a....
"Conversation From the Future"
....on one of the Bulletin Boards.
I do not know who the author is, but they hit it right on the nailhead:
Two women meet at a playground, where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching. Eventually, they begin to talk. ...
W1: Hi. My name is Maggie. My kids are the three in red shirts -- helps me keep track of them.
W2: (Smiles) I'm Terri. Mine are in the pink and yellow shirts. Do you come here a lot?
W1: Usually two or three times a week, after we go to the library.
W2: Wow. Where do you find the time?
W1:: We home school, so we do it during the day most of the time.
W2: Some of my neighbors home school, but I send my kids to public school.
W1:: How do you do it?
W2: It's not easy. I go to all the PTO meetings and work with the kids every day after school and stay real involved.
W1: But what about socialization? Aren't you worried about them being cooped up all day with kids their own ages, never getting the opportunity for natural relationships?
W2: Well, yes. But I work hard to balance that. They have some friends who're home schooled, and we visit their grandparents almost every month.
W1: Sounds like you're a very dedicated mom. But don't you worry about all the opportunities they're missing out on? I mean they're so isolated from real life -- how will they know what the world is like -- what people do to make a living -- how to get along with all different kinds of people?
W2: Oh, we discussed that at PTO, and we started a fund to bring real people into the classrooms. Last month, we had a policeman and a doctor come in to talk to every class. And next month, we're having a woman from Japan and a man from Kenya come to speak.
W1: Oh, we met a man from Japan in the grocery store the other week, and he got to talking about his childhood in Tokyo. My kids were absolutely fascinated. We invited him to dinner and got to meet his wife and their three children.
W2: That's nice. Hmm. Maybe we should plan some Japanese food for the lunchroom on Multicultural Day.
W1: Maybe your Japanese guest could eat with the children.
W2: Oh, no. She's on a very tight schedule. She has two other schools to visit that day. It's a system-wide thing we're doing.
W1: Oh, I'm sorry. Well, maybe you'll meet someone interesting in the grocery store sometime and you'll end up having them over for dinner.
W2: I don't think so. I never talk to people in the store - certainly not people who might not even speak my language. What if that Japanese man hadn't spoken English?
W1: To tell you the truth, I never had time to think about it. Before I even saw him, my six-year-old had asked him what he was going to do with all the oranges he was buying.
W2: Your child talks to strangers?
W1: I was right there with him. He knows that as long as he's with me, he can talk to anyone he wishes.
W2: But you're developing dangerous habits in him. My children never talk to strangers.
W1: Not even when they're with you?
W2: They're never with me, except at home after school. So you see why it's so important for them to understand that talking to strangers is a big no-no.
W1: Yes, I do. But if they were with you, they could get to meet interesting people and still be safe. They'd get a taste of the real world, in real settings. They'd also get a real feel for how to tell when a situation is dangerous or suspicious.
W2: They'll get that in the third and fifth grades in their health courses.
W1: Well, I can tell you're a very caring mom. Let me give you my number -- if you ever want to talk, give me call. It was good to meet you.
"No Thank You, We don't believe in Socialization!"
A humorous look at what life might be like if the
institutional schools' version of "proper socialization" were enforced in the "real world".
Homeschool Commentary a collection of posts, notes, letters and rants by this site's owner
Eleven Reasons To Raise Your Own Child
Homeschooling Eases The Transition into Teen Years HSers find family relationships benefit greatly
Why Homeschool? Our own reasons
Socialization: Our Biggest Gripe With Homeschooling and other essays By John O. Andersen
The Horse (with thanks to John Hume) from the OAEA homepage - a great assessment of the ways NOT to change the system.
The First Twelve Weeks of Home School to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas - answers to 10 FAQs - from the Lathan family's pages
At Home Mothers Although not specifically homeschool related, provides complete support for the at-home motherhood lifestyle,
free Info Guides, articles, tips, online newsletters plus At-Home Mother magazine and the National Association of At-Home Mothers.
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