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Socialisation blues

OK, so not a really original post, but "socialisation" is one of the most asked about aspect of homeschooling. "But, what about socialisation?"

Well, what about it? I think, sometimes when people ask this question, they are not really clear themselves what they are referring to. Do they mean "will your kids have any kind of social life?", to which my (very much tongue in cheek) reply often is "well, occasionally I let them out of their cupboard under the stairs if they've been good". Other homeschoolers will reel off a huge list of extra-curricular activities that they run themselves (and their kids) ragged with.


The real answer is, of course, we have social lives. Me and the kids. They have friends over to play. They go to other kids houses to play. They have sleepovers. They have headlice. I meet up with my friends - not every day, but once a week, or once a month or I also have friends that I rarely see, but when we do catch up, it's like we have never been apart. I even have friends that I haven't even met in real life (yet), but yet sustain me with advice, support and well, friendship, and I attempt to do the same.


But maybe what they really mean is "aren't you afraid by keeping your children at home, you will be turning them into social misfits?" but are too polite to ask that directly. What if Video Boy turns out to be like Sheldon, from Big Bang Theory?


I believe my kids have reasonably good social skills. They can participate within society and its norms. They have good manners (mostly!). They can sustain conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. They can answer the phone and ask for what they want in shops. They may be a little "shy" at times - but many of us can feel that way in certain social situations. They can be naive and sensitive. But I kinda like that :-) It would be boring if we were all the same and I think extroverts can be over-rated (especially by teachers).


I think there is a great myth out there that we need to send our kids to school to have social lives and learn social skills. We don't - those things can be done adequately and perhaps even better at home and in the wider community. In a supportive environment with people who truly know them and love them and care for them. There is a tendency to look at any social "problem" (shyness, anxiety, bad manners) and blame it on homeschooling, when the reality is, those same problems would exist for that person in school - and would probably be even worse. The reality is that there are lots of people who have appalling social skills who spent 13 years in the school system!


And when you add "gifted" into the mix, then what the kids really need are not 30 other kids of the same age, but a few "soul mates" who "get" them. Other gifted kids, teenagers or adults. Or other kids who they play well with. Friendships that can be nurtured so that they provide them with the same benefits as my friendships provide me. Friendships that allow them to be their authentic self.


And isn't that the whole point of "socialisation?"


Comments

  1. Yes and a hundred times yes! Life for my eldest would have been miserable, especially as she had already been branded with a 'loner' label by the teachers. Introversion and classrooms aren't the best of mixes.

    Sadly, we've found issues within homeschooling as well. When you are 14 and a girl and passionately interested in issues around 20th C history instead of lip gloss, drama class and shopping, it can be slim pickings friend -wise even out of a school environment.

    At least being out of school allows her to interact with adults who support her as she is, and even if family and adult friends aren't the same as a 'bestie' it's better than the alternative.

    I'm glad things are working well for your children :)

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  2. I have been meaning to comment several posts ago, how cool you have Aldis in Australia and the monkey platter saved lunches around here :).

    Anyway if I had a dollar for every time I've been asked about socialization. Or my absolute favorite is what about Prom? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prom)

    The funny thing about all this is that I have actually received compliments on how well my children communicate with others.

    In my opinion, I think homeschooled children have more of an advantage because they know how to interact with people of all ages "not" just children.

    If my daughter sees someone that can help her find out the information she is seeking she doesn't hesitate to ask :).

    Wishing you a great week !
    Kim

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  3. Oh and PS, We LOVE the Muppets around here too!

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  4. This is what I say when someone tells me that school is important for learning to get along with others:

    If you put me in a group with 30 random people, chances are I won't want to get along with half of them. Of the remaining half, half probably won't want to get along with me. Of the remaining quarter, I'll probably only develop some kind of relationship with one or two. Like most, I've only ever had a few true friends at a time. Why should I expect anything different from my son?

    Opportunities to learn to interact with difficult people, or people you don't like, are everywhere - it's not like we're going to miss out on that.

    I think a lot of people use the socialization argument to justify that they're not brave enough to take responsibility of their children's education. Deep down, they envy us, I'm sure of it!

    Hope you had a great weekend!

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  5. This is great, Ingi! I agree with everything you've written here, esp about the need for friends who 'get' us. It's about quality, isn't it? Not quantity.

    Just hanging out in a big group situation doesn't necessarily give kids a healthy social Self—in fact, it can make things worse, especially for the more sensitive. I'll never forget how overwhelming every morning was, just dropping my kids off at school, all of them marshalled into and running around in this undercover, concrete area—the sound crashing around the place, rattling me to my bones. I am so glad that when my kids play now, it's at their own pace, with the number of people they're comfortable with, in a natural space. Makes me (and them!) feel Just Right. :)

    Wonderful post, Ingi.

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  6. Absolutely ladies! It seems that in homeschooling we have the opportunity for more natural social interactions. School just seems so....artificial, in many ways. Happy days!

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  7. Couldn't agree more, great post!

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