Ah! The “S” word. Whenever I mention that we homeschool, the uninitiated will ask, “But what about socialization?”
I worked in early childhood education for several years and majored in ECE, before changing majors somewhere in my final years. Back then I was a firm believer in a model in which children needed to be with their peers in order to become fully functioning adults. I even believed children were better off under the care of their teachers rather than their parents, a belief many fellow teachers held to, as well.
When my oldest was seven months old, she suddenly became clingy and fussy. My response? Better get her into Mom’s Day Out! All of my experience in ECE, led me to believe she was becoming too dependent on me and needed to be able to function independently. So I immediately started locating centers in the area that would take a baby so young.
Now I look back and think, “Wow! Imagine that! A seven month old baby who wanted her Mama!”
Before we had children, my husband suggested homeschooling. To my embarrassment, my response was anything but submissive! In fact, I’m pretty sure I raised my voice, if not shouted to him in the car, “There’s NO WAY I’m homeschooling my children! Do you have ANY idea what that would DO to them? They’ll have NO social skills whatsoever! Are you INSANE?”
I’m also pretty sure that Proverbs 25:24 was going through his head as he was likely looking for a way to safely exit the vehicle while driving.
Back to my daughter…..
We enrolled our oldest into Mom’s Day Out until she was two. To satisfy my husband’s interest, I gave homeschooling a shot the following year, using a simple preschool curriculum. But when my husband started having his own doubts regarding socialization and when I found out I was pregnant with our third child, I started doubting myself and figured sending her to preschool would be easier. In retrospect, it was actually more stressful!
When it came time to enter K4 something didn’t feel right. But since we wanted her to attend the same private Christian school for K-12, we also wanted to ensure she had a spot, and being in preschool meant a guaranteed opening for enrollment. But we weren’t getting peace over sending her back another year. There was nothing wrong with the school, but our hearts were changing.
So, I began to read even more about homeschooling, especially socialization.
Out of everything I checked out, bought, paid money for, etc. one book stood out and provided us with an understanding of what we already knew but were afraid to accept. Another homeschool family suggested I read The Socialization Trap by Rick Boyer, a quick read and straight-to-the-point book, that helped bring everything together.
After reading it in only a couple of hours, it provided the wisdom we needed to have the confidence to step out of our comfort zone and homeschool our children!
Boyer writes about age-integration vs. age-segregation and the benefits of learning interpersonal relationships among siblings. We believe that God placed each child into this family to teach them the skills they need to accomplish the goal and plan He has for their lives.
We now have two children with special needs, with diagnoses ranging from the autism spectrum, to dyslexia, sensory processing disorder and auditory processing. Because of our family dynamics, our children are sensitive and aware of others with special needs. Would they have developed that sensitivity otherwise? Maybe, but I don’t believe it would be as strong.
My husband and I realized that as they grow and enter careers, whether in or outside their homes, chances are they won’t be grouped together in age-segregated offices. In our homeschool environment, they learn how to get along and communicate with others of different ages, abilities, and personalities. My younger children learn from our older children, which strengthens what they’ve learned from us.
Even our child on the spectrum, who once struggled significantly with social interaction, is thriving!
We love homeschooling our children and while there are benefits and advantages regarding customizing curriculum, we sometimes fail to explain the benefits of social interaction, too! In fact, once we really got going, socialization became a non-issue. It’s as though that’s the big hurdle folks deal with in the beginning, and it looks so daunting and vast. But once crossed, we hear them say, “Wow! That was it? That’s what intimidated me?”
And if still concerned, I was surprised by all of the events, co-ops, and other activities available to homeschooling families in our area.
If you’re looking for more, I created a list of favorite resources for those just starting out.
If you’re a homeschooling family, how do you handle the socialization question? And if you’re considering homeschooling, do you have concerns or doubts that are holding you back?
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