Homeschooling: But What About Socialization?
When childhood and adulthood meet:
You head in to work to check in promptly at 7:30. You squeak in just in time, but didn’t sit down at your desk until 7:35. Your supervisor immediately sends you to the boss for a reprimand. In the daily team meeting, you missed what your boss said and immediately get another public reprimand for leaning over and whispering a question to your co-worker about what you missed.
You rush to your next meeting, flying past your friends in order to not be late again. You get a 15 minute break once a day to catch up with friends, and then you rush off to the next meeting, focused on listening to lecture after lecture and digesting, memorizing, and testing your knowledge again and again.
Although your workday is only around 7 hours on average, you typically have about an hour and a half worth of work you have to do when you get home, oftentimes not only due first thing in the morning, but you will be tested and graded to ensure you know all of it - not just in your area of expertise, but covering the bases of every role in the company.
You have about a twenty minute lunch break, but due to the size of the company, they need to control the noise - if it gets too loud, the whistle blows and you have to eat in silence. Your peers (and lunchtime) are divided by age, and everyone in the company is zoned for this specific area - no one from the county over coming to this business!
If that wasn't stressful enough...
Your supervisors are maxed and struggling to meet quotas - the last thing on their minds is encouraging creative play. Not only that, the guy next to you shoots spitballs at your head, and "accidentally" trips you on a regular basis. He makes a mockery of you in the break room, and although you've thought about pressing charges, it wouldn't matter because the main thing he's hurt is just your self-esteem and overall self-worth (no big deal, right).
What's more, it's not just him - he's got a whole crew that now enjoys the snide comments at your expense, and you dread going to work each day. But, you're stuck here for twelve years, so you just need to keep your head down and bide your time. At least you get a few breaks a year, and the summer off if you have good behavior!
Do you see the comparison?
This is the life of many kids. Yes, it's not the story for every traditional school setting, and we are thankfully seeing new variations and we're challenging the old methods of school. But I want to paint a drastic picture because of this -
If you are a homeschooling/unschooling family, you have most likely heard at least once (if not every single time you say anything):
Yes, But...how do homeschoolers get their socialization?
"Aren't you afraid they'll fall behind? That they'll be socially inept? They won't know how to get along in society?"
Hello, soapbox. Really, people? I had a great blog post I used to refer to when people asked this question, and unfortunately, it's been lost in the internet abyss of dated sites - so I knew it was time I addressed this on here.
For example, in our adventures as a full time RVing family, we hang out at all kinds of campgrounds. With the beautiful fall weather recently, this state park was packed, and kids of all ages were out (it just so happened to be fall break in the area as well).
As I sat outside, my little ones ran all over, from the park to the playground to the creek nearby, catching crawdads, making friends, and occasionally making a mad dash back to the camper for some food before darting off again.
My 9-year-old was busy creating art with her 11-year old friend after spending all morning riding her bike around, the tagalong on back holding her 4-year-old sister and their 3-year old friend. My 6-year-old spent some time visiting with the retired couple next door, and had also befriended a young couple with an infant, helping them keep her occupied while they set up camp. Our friends with six daughters ranging in age from 7-19 popped in for a visit and we all sat around and caught up with each other - both adults and children contributing to a wonderful conversation.
That evening, a wild game of flashlight tag erupted with all ages getting involved, and oohs and ahhs erupted as someone turned on a fantastic light show into the treetops...which prompted a magical discussion that ranged from fairies to space exploration.
So - my quick answer to the hesitant ones who are concerned about my children's social welfare:
And to go a bit more in depth:
Many (notice I do not say all) kids in traditional school spend a lot of time on homework, little to no time in recess, and a rushed lunch. Add in extracurricular sports, music, etc., and there is a whole lot of time for studying and learning without pure social fun. Unfortunately, I'm not exactly looking at our American traditional school system as a model for healthy relationships, or even education.
Another homeschooling family had a great rebuttal to yet another jab about us "backward homeschoolers": Open Letter To US Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off In Public Schools
Yes, I'm confident my girls are socialized. They may not have had as much exposure to bullies and performance angst, but they have had plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with others. Another reason why we say we unschool is because the majority of it happens outside of the home ("home"school just doesn't make sense!)
So there you go. Now, we have a campfire to make, some s'mores to share, and some new friends to talk to.
Check out my resource page to dig into schooling options and access videos, podcast episodes and blogs to help you navigate what schooling works best for your child
No matter how you were schooled as a kid, I'd love to hear your comments on how you "socialized" as a child!