Why do homeschoolers hear socialization questions more than any others? I’ve met lots and lots of homeschoolers and very few of them seem unsocialized. Heck, very few of them are home long enough to be unsocialized!
The S-Word: Socialization for Homeschoolers
When I was writing the chapter on socialization for Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners, I came across the following quote from a newspaper journalist.
“When my wife and I mention to our friends that we are strongly considering homeschooling our children, we are without fail asked, ‘But what about socialization?’ Fortunately, we have found a proven method by which our kids can receive the same socialization that government schools provide. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the bathroom, give him a wedgie and take his lunch money. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not being in the in-crowd, taking special care to poke fun of any physical abnormalities. Fridays will be Fad and Peer Pressure Day, in which we will all compete to see who has the coolest clothes or the loudest, fastest and most dangerous car-all while dying our hair and ripping our jeans.” ~Alan Brymer
OK, so maybe that’s a tad overboard when it comes to public school socialization, but you get the point, right?
Seriously, though, who made the “rule” that socialization is only acceptable if it involves a large group of same-aged children randomly thrown together on a daily basis in a place we call public school??
I see SMART socialization from a completely different perspective.
“Would you believe homeschooling is socially more like real-life than that of a classroom setting? As an adult, can you remember at time where you have been asked to do something with people who are within one year of your age? Probably not. You live, work, worship, volunteer, shop, attend events, and even play sports with a large variety of ages. And, one of the beautiful facets of multi-age activities is that younger or less experienced people learn from older or more experienced people. The same is true of homeschoolers. They have many, many more opportunities to be part of multi-age events, and in turn, become part of the “real” world more quickly.” ~from Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners
Smart Socialization for Homeschoolers How-To
Don’t feel pressured into socialization opportunities. Your children will be fine if you don’t say yes to each and every class, field trip, lesson, special event, etc. that comes along. Do only what works for your family – interests, gifts, talents, special needs, time constraints and more. Seriously consider…”Is this new social activity going to really benefit our family or will it be a burden?”
Aim for multi-age activities over those that only involve children the same age as yours. I promise, you’ll see the maturity level in your children improve greatly!
Be aware. Most of us are homeschooling to protect our children from one thing or another. Don’t assume that just because something is run as a homeschool event that it will be safe. Just like you shouldn’t assume that just because something is run as a church activity that it’s automatically safe.
Some socialization should be educational – co-ops, camps, plays, museums and more. Don’t forget the moments of plain old fun and relaxation, too! Not everything homeschoolers do has to be jotted down in the lesson plan book. Just let your kids make and be friends sometimes.
Most importantly, don’t underestimate the power of family socialization through all generations!
Smart Socialization: Our Favs
Don’t just take my word for it! Several other veteran homeschool moms have written on the very topic of socialization for homeschoolers on their blogs today, too!