Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"But What About Socialization?"

Probably the most commonly asked question of homeschoolers and probably the most frequently answered as well.  Many point to the success of homeschooled students nationwide, others ask why we desire our children to be socialized in the first place, some may seek to define socialization and share why they believe homeschooling to be a great way to nurture "good socialization".  All of these are good, there is much to learn in the exchange of ideas and opinions, but I'm going to keep it simple and just share how this has worked out in my own homeschooling family of nine.

My kids range in age from eight to nineteen.  When the older ones were younger, most of their friends consisted of family members and friends from church.  We never purposely sought "socialization" but we didn't hide from it either.  Our children were encouraged to be friendly with everyone, regardless of age or social status.  And it worked. 

Oh, they had their moments.  I remember a very upset mother coming to me with the tale of my daughter kicking hers in the head.  Completely aghast, I asked my little girl why she would do this and she replied, "I didn't like her hair."  Okay, teaching moment!  For both of us.  I had to learn to tactfully calm another mother while teaching my own daughter the proper way to treat others, whether or not their hairstyle meets her approval.

By the time they reached their teenage years, they had learned how to function properly in society.  In fact, so much so that my question became, "But what about too much socialization?".  I learned to love being the teenage hang out and found that I loved the "stray friends" my daughter seemed to collect as much as she predicted.  Both my son and daughter became well-known in the community, with a reputation for being friendly with all (In my son's case, especially the females...not too sure if that was what I was looking for when encouraging him to be friendly!).   Their friends come from all walks of life- family, church, work, the neighborhood.  They may be public schoolers or Christian schoolers.  Christians, non-Christians.  They can be friendly to all.

My two oldest children work in sales and both are very successful in their jobs.  I believe this is due to the homeschool version of socialization.  They were able to build their self-confidence at home, never having to deal with the destructiveness of peers on a full time basis.  Oh, they had their share of being picked on and hurt but this was never something that filled their days.  Their "selves" were built in the safety of their own home, where imperfection reigned but love could conquer all. 

They have a diverse group of friends, across all social groups.  There is no stigma attached to this one or that, but they are able to enjoy people for who they are and be friendly to all.  Are they perfect?  Not in the least.  I could give examples of that but I have to remember that "love covers a multitude of sins".  So we'll leave it at imperfect socialization but not a lack of socialization.  Homeschooling K-12 has not turned out backwards adult children who can't function in society.  Rather, it has produced friendly, hard-working teenagers with a wide-ranged "peer group". 

So what about socialization?  Well, what about it?  Be friendly, be hospitable, teach your children to love others.  And they will.

*The TOS Crew Facebook Fan Page is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday.  I hope to participate as often as possible.  If you're on Facebook, join the Fan page for links to more posts answering the question of the week!*

6 comments:

Nikki said...

This is a great post!
I also think it's wonderful that we have the opportunity to teach our children to socialize with a wide variety of people (ages, status, etc..) not just their own age group - and to love all (like you mentioned).

Heidi said...

I love your closing, "Well, what about it?" It is such a non-issue in most homeschooling families.

Anonymous said...

Very true!

Heather said...

I really enjoy your writing & can imagine the kids:) I agree that socialization is often a non-issue!

Cindy @ Fenced in Family said...

Great post. I love the incident with your daughter not liking the other girl's hair. We've run into several issues between my middle son and a little girl at church. It's a love-hate relationship, but fortunately the other mom never gets mad at ME about it! :)

Jessica S. said...

Love your post!! This is our first year...and I have come across several people who actually ask, "What about socialization?" ---And literally think I keep my children in a closet!

Sometimes I feel awkward, but I answer with the benefits of homeschooling; which includes PLENTY of socialization.

Thanks for your wisdom! :)

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