Friday, October 18, 2013

The Greatest Myth of Homeschooling

As a homeschooling mother (who was homeschooled myself), there is one question that I always hear asked by those unfamiliar to homeschooling...

"What about socialization?"

(Did anyone else cringe just now?)

The purpose of school, as far as I know, is to give our children an educational experience that will help them succeed in the future.... not socialize.

According to socialization is 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.

In other words, socialization does not only happen during the school age years, but throughout our entire lives, AND most importantly, we learn behavior from those we socialize with.

Yet , when most people bring up socialization they do not mean "socialization" in terms of its actual definition. They mean, "Are you locking you child up in a closet and not letting them be around other people at all during their lifetime?"

1 Corinthians 15:33 states, "Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”

My husband and I are working hard at home to build character in the lives of our children based on Biblical values. Yet, as people we tend to gravitate towards people who share our personality traits, whether they are good or bad.

As a classroom teacher for a total of 11 years (one year up north, 10 here in Florida), I can tell you that in my classroom, "socialization" was not allowed. How could my students learn the material I was teaching them if they were socializing with each other? It was pretty much the same in the other classrooms as well.

As parents, it is important for us to be fully aware of the kind of socializing our children are encountering (long gone are the days when we knew all the kids at school and their parents). There are so many negative influences trying to undo all that we as parents are trying to do with our children, that sometimes the broad socializing in a school setting seems to be more of a threat than a benefit.

So how do homeschooled children socialize (because that is apparently everyone's greatest fear for our children)?

Family- Homeschoolers have families. These families have extensions and these extensions come in many different ages. Because of their interactions with the different extended family members on a regular basis, homeschooled children tend to be more comfortable jumping the "generation gap" when socializing with others outside of their families.

I have watched my own children at holidays or at family gatherings interacting with the adults and the children equally. They are comfortable with either group. I love hearing from others how amazed they were that Addie sat down with them and had a full conversation with them. That is socialization at it's finest!

Church- Many homeschooled families are actively involved in their local church. From Sunday school to Awana, youth group to choir, there is no fear of socialization lacking in the minds of homeschoolers and their families.

Homeschool Groups- there are now hundreds of homeschool groups around the country where homeschooling families can get together for support meetings, plan group field trips, have graduations for Kindergarten and High School, and host get togethers and parties for the kids.

Co-ops- Co-ops are cooperatives where the parents of homeschooled kids get together and plan classes for the students to take in a "classroom" setting with the subjects being much more fun and interesting than in a typical classroom. The parents then teach the courses of help out in the classrooms as needed. (Example: Addie is in three classes- Animals, Solar System, and Dance. During the animals class, I am available to help wherever I am needed. During the other two, I am in the classroom to assist the teacher however she needs me to.) The child gets to experience a classroom setting, having a teacher who is not their parent, and sitting and learning with (gasp!) other children (who, by the way, know how to sit in their seats for the lesson and listen).

However, one thing I have noticed is that there is more socialization happening with all of the other activities that we are involved in. During co-op, Addie and the other children are expected to sit quietly and listen as the teacher teaches the lesson. Every where else, Addie is actively engaged in interacting with other through conversation and play. In co-op, she sits next to other kids for 3 hours.

Am I missing something?

If you have not yet read this article, 18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Are Homeschooling Their Children, I would encourage you to do so. I loved reason #16 on the list- Better socialization, less unhealthy peer pressure and bullying.

We, as in the majority of homeschoolers, are not opposed to socializing (in fact, as parents, we are so exhausted from all of our children's socializing that we are too tired to have a huge social life ourselves), in fact "socialization" isn't really the issue here at all. It is the KIND of socializing that we are careful about.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to take my "unsocialized" kids to co-op.


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