It’s 11 PM on a Friday night, and I’m up thinking about comments that have been made about homeschooling. Comments made by family, friends, acquaintances, strangers. Heck, even my HUSBAND recently made some comments.
It’s pretty typical really. As soon as someone finds out you’re homeschooling they are instantly concerned about your child’s social life. [Any other homeschoolers experience this?] Oh, I’m sorry, was my child’s life at all ever a concern to you before now? No? Okay…bye then.
Just kidding, that isn’t how those conversations actually go, that’s just in my head.
On a serious note though, what’s with this ‘homeschool-kids-are-socially-awkward stigma’? In the past homeschooling looked so much different and it really wasn’t nearly as common. But homeschooling has evolved, and changed, and become a widely accepted method of schooling (for the most part anyway).
In all reality, my kids socialize so much more than kids who sit in a classroom all day. My kids are socializing with other kids of all different ages, they aren’t restricted to interacting with kids that are the same age. This alone opens up so much dialogue and learning and growth you don’t see in the public school setting.
I do understand the idea that it is scary for kids to be taken out of a school setting, and be stuck at home with their weird parents, who want them to live in a sheltered bubble, with no life, no sports, no friends, just their house and their school books and their Xbox. But that’s not the kind of homeschooling I’m talking about. It’s almost better to call it roam-schooling. Our general studies are done at home as far as math, science, history, bible lessons. But when it comes to exploring life, being a part of nature, doing hands on experiences, doing art lessons, learning through going and doing and seeing and being… we are going and doing and seeing and being with so many other kids. In fact, we socialize so much that my kids end up begging me to keep them home for one full day. After our first year of homeschooling, our summer was basically a debrief from all of our amazing social activities during the school year. And the best part? They are socializing with people I know and trust. I’m not sending them to school and praying they make friends I can handle them being around (and there is nothing wrong with that.) But we are enjoying the process of learning together alongside some of our most wonderful friends.
So next time you hear someone is homeschooling their kid, rather than assume they are going to be socially awkward, open your mind up to the idea that the public school system isn’t the best means for socializing your children.
And also ask yourself… what is it about homeschooled kids that makes them weird in your mind? Is it because they aren’t like everyone else? Maybe they are free to be themselves rather than being forced to fit in the public school, cookie cutter, bubble. I want my kids to hold on to their individuality and uniqueness and maybe even their ‘weirdness.’ And homeschooling just may be the perfect way for that to happen. Homeschooled kids WILL be different from public school kids. How could they not be? Homeschooled kids typically aren’t grouped and separated based on their age or academic level. They aren’t forced to give up their individuality and their uniqueness in order to be compliant in a classroom to a teacher who can’t possibly meet the needs of 30 (give or take) students. They have the power to have a say in what they are learning, to an extent. They are free to question things that just don’t seem right. Kids that go to a brick and mortar school are there for 6+ hours a day for 4-5 days a week. They are going to be socially conditioned whereas a homeschooled kid won’t be. So yeah, homeschooled kids may be weird and different socially, but not necessarily anti-social. Not lacking socially. Just not fitting into the way the public school system socially molds todays kids, and that is something that excites me.
*I am in no way saying that all kids who are not homeschooled students are going to lose their individuality and have bad friends or not be able to break away from the mold and box that the public school system tends to put kids in. Or that homeschooling ensures that children won’t have to experience some of these things as well. I don’t believe homeschooling is right for everyone, and believe the public school system is the best for some people. That is a decision each and every parent gets to make on their own. I also am not saying that no homeschooled kids are lacking socially. That is completely up to how the parents choose to homeschool their kids. I would venture to say, though, that there are at least as many kids in the public schools that are ‘socially awkward’ as there are homeschooled kids that are ‘socially awkward.’ Last but not least, just because I do believe it to be pretty impossible for a public school teacher to meet the needs of each of the students in their classes, does not mean that I lack respect for teachers. Teachers have an under-appreciated, hard job, and I am so thankful for those who have chosen that career. Because of the great teachers we have out there, public schools are better than it could be. There are so many wonderful teachers who put so much effort, time, energy, love, sweat, tears, and so much more into their students and their schools. And so many kids are forever affected by and changed because of them. So thank you teachers for all of your hard work and dedication, despite the nearly impossible task you have taken on.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Below is a slide show of some pictures from the past almost two years. I had to cut it way back and there are still over 50 pictures… because that is how much socialization my homeschooled weirdo’s are getting 😉