Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Socialization Myth

One of the things homeschoolers hear most is, "What about socialization?"

One of the questions homeschoolers hate most is, "What about socialization?"

If you are already a homeschooler, you know this is a non-issue. I have one homeschooling friend who won't even discuss it. She says, "It's already been settled. It's a stupid question."

For those who do not homeschool, it's a valid concern. Before I started homeschooling, I wondered if my kids were going to grow up emotionally stunted from being home with me all day instead of being with their peers in the social atmosphere of school. What if they turned out "weird"?

I needn't have worried.

If your kid is a "weird" homeschooler, then he probably would be a "weird" public schooler as well. Weird is weird. Geeks are geeks. Jocks are jocks. No matter what situation you put them in.

Ben and Katie are both extremely social kids. Emily is quiet and introverted. I can't say that they would be any different if they went to traditional school. They are who they are. At least at home they haven't been forced to adopt a personality to suit others.

We see many kids throughout our day (neighbors, teammates, church friends) who go to school. My kids are not insulated from them and they listen to them talk about what their school day is like.

My kids have not been inspired to attend school after listening to these conversations. I always thought that by the high school years, my kids would be begging to go to "real" school. That's where the fun is, isn't it? That's where everyone else is!

Apparently not so much. My kids have listened to other kids talk about being bullied, unfair teachers, stupid assignments, broken hearts, drama, wasted time, you name it. They've heard their friends talk about being pushed into having boyfriend/girlfriend relationships too soon for fear of being labeled gay. They hear about the pressure to have the right clothes, wear makeup, have the coolest phone, try the latest thing.

And they don't feel they've missed out on anything by not having these experiences. They've gotten doses of it at scouts, at playgrounds, playing sports, etc. And believe me those experiences have been enough so far to make them not want a bigger dose.

I'm baffled by people who think school is the best place for kids to have social interaction. When I was in school, we got in trouble for talking during class. We had five minutes between classes and a lunch break during which most of our "socialization" consisted of separating ourselves into our cliques and talking about each other. I learned no grand lessons about working together as a team. I didn't learn about getting along with others.

I learned not to look anyone in the eyes if they weren't part of my particular clique or I risked being picked on relentlessly. I learned how to pretend I didn't care when someone insulted me (loudly) in front of others. I learned not to stand up for myself because it would only make things worse.

I learned that those with the most money and the ability to buy the best clothes, jewelry, and cars were the most popular. If you weren't popular, you didn't count, you didn't matter, and being a nice person was not enough.

I learned to be invisible.

Not exactly the social experience I want for my kids.

1 comment:

  1. Caleb's best friend was home schooled until last year (7th grade), When they were younger he wanted to be like Kevin, until he was informed that school involved "Chores" also. Great Post.