1. 1. Our kids are unsocialized
2. You have to be patient, organized & crafty
3. We breed like rabbits
4. We all wear glasses and live to be on the “Geek Squad”
5. We keep our kids in a bubble so they won’t see or hear evil
Let’s look at #1 first –
“How do you socialize your kids?”
This, by far has to be the #1 question homeschoolers get asked! In less than 1,000 words I’m going to attempt to address this mystery. Whether or not you agree or change your view point is up to you!
My initial, unfiltered answer is, “And non-homeschooled teenagers with the latest iphone, texting phonetically correct jargon means they are well socialized?” I was a public schooled kid. Girls, in general, are mean and I would not classify much of what I saw and took part in as well behaved, considerate, socialization.
But to be fair, homeschooled kids have iphones too and are just as prone to regrettable, silly, stupid, stunts.
So maybe we need to start with the definition of socialization. Beginning with a standard of truth is always helpful.
Vocabulary.com defines “socialization” as:
1. “the act of adapting to the norms of a culture or society”
2. “going out and meeting people or hanging out with friends”
Dictionary.reference.com defines it a little more descriptively:
1. “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior and social skills appropriate for his/her position”
I assume (which is dangerous) that when people ask homeschoolers this question they mean in reference to definition #2 –
“When/how do you see and interact with other people?” How do we learn to communicate, problem solve, argue respectfully and play with someone else?
I think we all have this homeschooler in mind that we knew or knew someone who knew, who never spoke unless spoken to, and didn’t mix well when placed in a “social” environment.
I want to make a point that socialization starts in the home. Last I checked, communication isn’t a course for first graders in public or home schools. Regardless if you teach your kids math and science, you’re teaching them something.
How do you and your spouse communicate in the home? How stable is your relationship? We can teach are kids till we’re blue in the face about communication, but they watch what we do. How do you as a parent communicate to your son or daughter? I mean on a regular basis. We all say words we’d like to erase. Our kids are very forgiving creatures. What is your “usual tone? How sharp are your words? What about to your friends? How do you joke, who/what do you talk about? I would bet, your kid’s conversations take on a similar tone.
I cringe at times at what my kids say to each other, because I’ve said that before. Our kids watch us. They mimic us. It starts in the home.
Whether for 12 hours a day or 3 hours, home is the perfect place to practice “socialization”. Character training is not done in the masses.
I assume (again) that when people ask this question they mean that because my kids aren’t around 500 other kids 5 days a week that they aren’t social enough. Have you ever been in a group yet felt alone? Numbers alone don’t make you able to carry on a conversation or develop kindness. I would argue that it’s really in the small groups you learn best how to do these things.
This is one reason why we choose to homeschool. I will say it’s not for everyone. When we get tired of staring at each other, we invite a friend or a stranger from the park over (regardless of their age) and practice with them.
By the way – have you noticed that our culture is not lacking in activities? One of the hardest decisions we can have as homeschoolers is to say No to these options for fear of being labeled “unsocialized”.
To me, homeschooling provides a great way to be intentional about socializing. Yes, it looks different, but I believe it to be just as effective if not better than the alternative, but please excuse me, I’m a little biased!
The first definition of socialization surprised me. “Adapting to the norms of culture…” For me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I don’t necessarily want my kids to follow the culture. I want to teach them to follow Christ.
Yes, they are in the culture and they will need a job, but their identity is not here. Our identity is IN Christ. The rest of this world is extra. It’s not supposed to fill the void inside. That comes from Jesus.
I want my kids to know that and be able to love and communicate effectively (not just text abbreviations), while maintaining what Christ stands for without compromise. That requires you to know you are different and be OK with that. If you haven’t noticed, that requires great inward confidence.
I stated homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I mean that. And I don’t mean my sarcasm as a slight to families who don’t homeschool.
I do hope to challenge you, though, not to just drop your kids off at school and “let them do all that.” You, the parent are important! You do teach your kids, and it speaks louder than their teachers and friends.
If the goal of “socialization” in public school is to teach kids to adapt to the norm of culture, then, how are you, as a Jesus following home, coming alongside your kids and modeling how they do that? You have a beautiful platform to show this to them! Do it! We need kids who can communicate their faith and live by it EVERYWHERE, especially in their school!
So I don’t know, the next time someone asks me the “socialization” question, I might reply, “I’m not a proponent of socialization as much as I’m a proponent of character-ization.”