Friday, August 3, 2007

Socialization of Homeschoolers

The past couple of weeks have been "VBS" time for us, first at our own church, and then at our friends' church. I worked in the craft area, so I got to see every child of every age come through at some point. I also got to see my two children, which of course was a joy.

But the second day into it, I got a call from my friend, a fellow homeschooler. "Is everything okay?" she wondered. Not knowing what she meant, my mind began racing. But she quickly filled me in. The day before, Thomas, my six year old, had gotten upset during story time. He did not want to participate in the group activity. He is GREAT at sitting quietly and listening, but when it comes to him participating in an activity that is not on "his schedule" or for which he does not know the outcome, he panics. He wants to know what, when, where, why, and how, before he agrees to take part in the "unknown" and of course, most people either won't understand this, or won't take the time to explain.

This is when I really started thinking about the way people view homeschooled children. Other parents would look at my child and immediately think, "oh, see what homeschooling does to children? He can't handle x, y, OR z!" I know that this happens. I've seen forums and blogs discussing just this thing and people talk about how "dysfunctional" many homeschoolers are, especially when they go off to college and can't "relate." Do they ever think that children were this way BEFORE homeschooling?

No, they usually want to find a reason to be comfortable with the school system. It's the easier way, the less time consuming way, and the way of the mainstream. It's easy to make a case out of one experience a person has had: "Well, when I was in college there was a homeschooled girl that quit after one quarter simply because she couldn't fit in..." First of all, I wouldn't want to "fit in" with most college activities, and secondly, it's ONE person! Basing your opinion on one person is ludicrous, and - the easy way out.

My daughter was in pre-school for a short time, and I remember asking her if she'd like to, "stay home with Mommy and Thomas?" She jumped at the chance! I already knew that a little girl had pushed her down on the playground (which the teacher didn't see, and therefore she felt there was no justice, making it even harder to get over) but she seemed willing and eager to go on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Months later, she told me, "I didn't want to go to school with those babies!" Sure enough, her pre-school friends seemed "behind" socially and intellectually but I never imagined she would pick up on this. She was ready to play with others, and they were still stuck in themselves. Imagine the torture this was for her! She is now four, and while I have held back on teaching her, is on a 5-6 year level socially, conceptually, and even in motor skills. Because her birthday is in November, she would have to wait another year for kindergarten if she went to public school. Can you imagine?!

My children have participated in dance, scouts, soccer, choir, church, homeschool groups, and other activities. They are not thrust into a classroom with same-age kids all day long with only one moderator to make sure everything is okay. While my son is very analytical about EVERYTHING, everyday his comfort level improves to where he is actually almost social! My daughter will talk to everyone who looks her way. If you want to make a case against socialization of homeschoolers, you don't want to look at my family! Because you simply will not be able to draw any conclusions, just like you can't draw conclusions on that "one girl in college..."

1 comment:

Vicki Arnold said...

I agree with you.

I grew up in a public school system and I still couldn't relate to the "typical" high schooler. I didn't drink and get high or stoned and I didn't sleep around. I also refused to cheat to make sure my GPA was better than the B+ I proudly earned.

When people talk about the socialization of public school kids, I also often think about my socialization. I was made fun of or, even worse, ignored because I was "different". Or I think about my elementary years when I was the bully. I mean come on, do we really want other 6 year olds telling our 6 year olds how to behave?

Just a few thoughts. :)