Thursday, July 16, 2015

Socialization

I'm sure many of you wondered where I disappeared to when I missed my regular post yesterday. Well, my kids social calendar was just too busy to spend time online. I apologize for the lack of time to write the post, but my normal "blog writing time" which is usually when I'm working scheduled hours at Tutor.com (summer is usually a slow time so there is a lot of waiting) ended up being actual tutoring time, so I have neglected my blog the last few days. For the first three days of the week, we have had a playdate every morning or afternoon for at least 2 hours (and up to 4 hours).

Many people are concerned about "socialization" when it comes to homeschooled children. I think what they are really worried about is their children ending up like they've ended up as adults. As adults, we become isolated if we don't actively seek out deep and meaningful friendships. As children, my son "misses" his neighborhood friends when they go on vacation for a week, but they still "love" each other when they get back.

Kids are so flexible and easy to love at this age, that it's hard to imagine how they can miss out on socialization by being home for a few hours a day rather than at school for 6-8 hours. Yet, this remains a justifiable fear for many homeschooling families (or their relatives, pediatricians, or friends). I won't go so far as to use the phrase "indoctrination" (although I've heard there is a movie by that name, if you're interested), but what many see as "socialization" I see as ritualization and anti-socialization.

Here are a few of my opinions about public school (or private school) versus homeschool. Again, this is a blog, so this is my experience and opinion, please do your own research to form your own opinions.

  1. Socialization in private or public school is about learning to get along with peers who are exactly the same age as you and generally live in the same area of town or same social status as you. Socialization in homeschool is learning to get along with any person you come across. Old or young, well-educated or mentally handicapped, neighbor or visitor, and every personality under the spectrum.
  2. Socialization in private or public school includes learning to follow rules that you will never use again (walking to the bathroom in a group twice a day, learning to be quiet when you feel strongly compelled to say something, learning to raise your hand, learning how to deal with a bully, learning to eat in 20 minutes, learning to drink less water because you need permission to leave the room, learning to sit for hours a day).
  3. Socialization in homeschool includes finding time to be bored and to be alone, time to play with Lego's, build family relationships, volunteer, start a business, or learn through play. Socialization in public school includes learning how to find time for friends when you are in school for 6 hours, on the bus for 1.5 hours (or 45 minutes round-trip if riding in a car) and completing 1-3 hours of homework every day (either on the bus, while eating, or if you're a rock star like I was, in other classes).
Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think that every family should homeschool. I actually think the best plan for "school time" would be 2 teachers and about 5-10 kids of varying age levels in a "cottage school" type environment (for a much shorter time frame). But, let's not assume that our schools (public or private) are really "socializing" our kids. We may be forcing them into an experience that we ourselves had, but they will not really be getting the individualized experience that they could have in a well-run homeschool or cottage school.

Right now, public school is more of a daycare system than an educational system. So, I'm not saying that public schools are unnecessary, they've just become something very different from the one-room schoolhouse of days past. I actually think the public school system is a relatively good daycare system, and can provide some education opportunities during that time. However, there is really very little "natural" socialization that takes place during the school day.

Also, those of you looking at private school, please keep in mind that private schools generally have fewer students per grade, so those "socialization" opportunities are more likely to be all the same type of kids, in the same social classes, in very small cliques (or closed off groups). I did go to a laid-back private school for a couple years, which was a good transition for me to learn the basic "rules" of a classroom, and I already had some friends there, but I did see many examples of bullying and general meanness (and this was at a "Christian" school).
Post a Comment