One of the most common questions I get asked about homeschooling / educating is how the children will socialise.
Of course I can’t speak for everyone on this as the way in which people choose to home educate their kids is so different, some choose to replicate the school environment and others choose to avoid that kind of set up altogether. Then there are some who do a bit of both.
I explained a bit in my last post on home education that we are going to be opting for the ‘unschooling’ option which means we will be following the lead of the kids when it comes to what they want to learn about. That’s not to say there won’t ever be any structure, we are still very new to it all and given that Cherry wouldn’t even be in school yet I’m not giving it too much thought but as they get older and we know more about what kind of learners they are going to be we can obviously adapt how we do things.
So back to socialisation. There seems to be a common misconception that children who don’t go to school are going to be too anti-social to manage in later life, too awkward to cope in social situations, in fact even a pediatrician told me he thought homeschooling was great but that I needed to make sure my children didn’t turn out a bit ‘weird’ – yes those were his actual words!
I personally don’t agree with the thought process that putting children into a setting with 30 other children 5 days a week is going to result in them being any better in social situations as adults.
I think it’s different for every child. Some children might thrive being surrounded by that many other kids all the time but for others it might have the opposite effect, in the same way some adults love working in a busy office whilst others prefer to work alone. I would say I’m a mixture, I love working alone but I also love to be part of social situations but the former is the one I would prefer to be doing for the main percentage of the time. I believe it’s all down to personality and not how you were schooled.
However, despite saying all of that I am fully aware just how important it is for children to be around other children and as a home educating parent to small children it’s my responsibility to make sure they are getting the interaction they need to feel happy. Of course the responsibility of that can feel somewhat overwhelming sometimes and we are still finding out feet with it all but the great thing about kids is that they have the ability to make friends a lot quicker than adults.
It means that every time we go out for the day and there are other children there the kids are socialising. Then of course there are the groups we go to and the family and friends we meet up with regularly too. And let’s not forget the adults in every day life too, the people who work on the supermarket checkouts that Cherry shows her toys too and speaks to about them, the receptionists at the doctors, the postman who comes and knocks on our door. Every time we leave our house we are being social and one thing I’ve noticed lately is that Cherry’s confidence has grown so much in these situations. She will happily go off and play with kids she’s just met or interact with an adult. I like the way adults and children of all ages are all equal to her right now.
Adults aren’t seen as authoritative and the older kids aren’t seen as scary because they haven’t been segregated, they are all the same.
Obviously I will never know how she would be confidence wise if she was in school but the fact she is doing so well out of school makes me sure we are doing the right thing for all of us.
I watched a tv programme last night about a family with three kids who had gone to live on an island in the pacific, they didn’t interact with any other children and it was so interesting to watch, the 13 year old had actually made the decision himself to go to boarding school in New Zealand as by that age he was craving social interaction. It was a total extreme but I kind of feel like spending so much of the week in a school setting is the other extreme. At the end of the day as long as kids are stimulated and excited in their lives then I don’t think either end of the extreme is wrong. For us though, it’s about finding somewhere in the middle, a balance.
So my answer to the ‘how do homeschooled children socialise’ question is..
by leaving the house!