I’ve been homeschooling my children since my oldest was 2 years old. I’ve come across many supportive people and a few not so supportive ones. Unfortunately, it’s these discouraging naysayers whose comments and questions linger the longest with me, most likely because I’m not usually snappy and sarcastic to strangers- so I often replay the things I could have said differently. Among all the questions I get asked, there are 3 that seem to pop up the most. Sadly they are also the most discouraging. Whenever I get asked these questions I try to think about how the Lord would answer them-so to accomplish this, I must go right to the Scriptures.
“What about socialization?”
To this question I have begun to ask right back,” What about socialization?” It never ceases to amaze me how people seem to think right off the bat that school is a 7 hour social club for kids. It’s like some bad word association game: Peanut Butter/Jelly. Black/White. School/Socialize. I completely understand that the majority of children will form their first friendly and/or romantic relationships in school. I understand that they learn how to interact with peers and adults and problem solve in school. But I wonder if people have this idea that homeschooled kids are completely cut off from the world and turn into anti-social conspiracy theorists living in run down apartments eating cat food out of cans or something?!
Personally speaking, my children are 8,5,4, and 2 and they are social butterflies. They play well with other children in Sunday school classes and on playgrounds, making friends quite quickly; they never fight over toys or have screaming matches with other children because they know that this is no way to behave, especially in public.( Let me just say here, that does not mean that bad behavior is never seen at home. They are children that are being trained to become functional adults, but for now they are still small and siblings at that. Misbehavior is bound to happen, and is quickly corrected.) They are forever being praised by complete strangers at how well -mannered they are and have even been compared to a line of ducklings walking behind or close by their father and me.
To satisfy people’s concern with socialization and the homeschooled child, there are often homeschool co-ops where children are grouped together by grade and parents are assigned subjects to teach these grades. The children get the benefit of socialization and the parents get the support of knowing that they are not alone in this journey. They bear each other’s burdens.
All this aside, what exactly are children learning in the schoolyard these days while they “socialize”? Who got the most presents after Christmas break? Whose parents make the most money? Which girls are more popular and which boys are “the man”? Just in the small town in which I currently live, I’ve seen children no bigger than my oldest smoking like pros and swearing blue streaks in front of adults. I am in no way saying kids in public or private school are not as good as homeschooled kids, but I am saying that if the latter has parents that are truly dedicated to their children’s education, you will see a significant difference in behavior, interests and priorities in that of a homeschooler versus their public school counterparts.
2 Timothy 2:15 “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”NLT
That is because school at home is about education first-everything else is just extra stuff. Undivided attention is given to not just teaching the 5 major subjects, but also teaching how to be contributing members of society in some positive fashion-no matter how big or small. Right now I take my 2 older girls to the local shelter every Friday to learn about responsible pet ownership, to see the result of the opposite and to help socialize animals that may not be able to get that lengthy 1 on 1 attention they deserve. This in turn helps the animals to become more adapted to human touch (and that of children no less) and thereby making them more adoptable. I know that other schools have extracurricular activities and volunteer programs to help children socialize, but in my children’s school there is nothing “extra” about it…it’s just part of their learning process.
Maria Votto is a Jersey girl living in Spencer, WV. She is a devoted housewife and SAHM to 4 children ages 8, 5, 4 and 2 and in her limited free time she loves writing at her blogs The Heart of Ruth and 8 Years of Growth, baking healthy treats for family and finding ways to save money through couponing and making homemade products.