Now I’ve got to be confusing those who don’t support homeschooling!
The most common fear people express about homeschooling is that they won’t be “socialized.” Flashbacks to teachers yelling at me to stop talking because “We are not here to socialize!!” aside, I am not sold on the idea that the only way to learn how to interact with others is to be forced to stay in a room with other people your age for seven hours a day. This situation only exists in school. It’s not part of the “real world” for which those opposed to home education claim we are not preparing our kids.
This week, my daughter attended six dance classes. The age of children participating varies from about 4-10 depending on the class. She interacts with all of them, and the teachers, just fine. She is not afraid to chat with the older girls or the adults at dance and she is always helpful to the younger dancers. This setting more closely resembles “the real world.” No workplace I’ve ever been a part of only employed people of my exact age.
Dance is not the only social activity my kids participate in by any means, but it’s an example. They also participate in gymnastics, baseball, homeschool groups, soccer, and have playdates with other kids. Our problem is never coming up with enough social outlets as much as it is having more options than time and money. They also go to the park, the library, the store, etc and they interact with people wherever we go. They are not tied to down to the idea that they have to be friends with kids who are “in their grade.” They are happy to befriend just about anyone.
Science Kid has Asperger’s. Socialization does not come naturally to him. He loves other kids. He’s lovely to be around, but he just needs a little more guidance than your average kid. I have talked at length with the doctors and therapists who work with my amazing guy about schooling options. They all think that for a bright, high functioning, slightly awkward kiddo like mine, homeschooling is the best option. Social skills and academic skills do not have to intermix, so he can focus on schoolwork without worrying about social pressures. Inversely, he can focus on social skills when playing and not worry about learning. By keeping it separate, it gives him a better chance of success in each area. One of his doctors, who works with a lot of kids with high functioning autism spectrum disorders, says that his happiest patients are the kids who are homeschooled.
I believe that my kids are being given more than enough opportunities to practice social skills and make friends. I also appreciate that we can choose when a social setting is appropriate. With bullying how it is these days, I am glad we have more control over social settings than we would if they were in school. And no, I do not think that being bullied is a skill we all have to learn. If you would not put up with it in an office, then kids should not have to put up with it in a classroom.
I am not afraid that my kids will grow up to be poorly adjusted individuals because they were not forced to sit in a desk for hours at a time with kids who are exactly their same age. In fact, I think they are being given the skills be well adjusted, compassionate adults.
Homeschoolers, do your kids have lots of opportunities to socialize? Which ones have been the best for your kids?
Check back tomorrow for my next post in this series!