Friday, May 9, 2008

Socialization


I would say that the concern over a child's socialization is the number two reason, behind lack of confidence in themselves as teachers, why people tell me they can't homeschool.

The sad thing is that this is such a prevalent misconception about homeschoolers. Most homeschool parents bend over backwards to make sure that their children are well-socialized. But the bigger question remains what is socialization exactly? And what part should it play in our child-rearing?

Wikipedia defines it as, "Socialization is the process by which humans or animals learn the values, norms and culture of their particular society. They learn to conform to the way of life in their society."

Basically socialization is the process by which our children learn to be healthy, productive, responsible members of society. Now, do I want my children to be socialized by other children their age - immature, cruel children often. Or do I want my children to learn how to be a happy and healthy adult from other happy and healthy adults? I would much rather be the overseer of who is teaching my children the "values, norms and culture" by which they will live their lives, than turn that task over to any random child who happens to be assigned to their class.

All this is not to say that I think we should keep children away from other kids or even away from those who have different opinions than ourselves. But we need to be able to be there to offer guidance and feedback. We need to protect and shelter our children from those who would, unthinkingly, hurt our children's tender spirits and faith.

Now that I have that off my chest, I'll step down off my soapbox and share ways that we have provided opportunities for our children to interact with other kids their ages. Having just moved to Doha, Qatar we are right now in a bit of a lull as we are still trying to get settled in, but I'm sure that we'll be getting in the swing of things soon.

* Church - this has always been the basis of our social lives, even before we had children. Sunday school classes, youth groups, retreats, social activities - these are all opportunities for our children to spend time with mostly like-valued children.

* Homeschool Groups - We have belonged to numerous homeschool groups over the past 9 years of homeschooling. Some have been warm and welcoming, others have been difficult to break into because of cliques. It can be hard, but with persistence you can find a group that is right for your which will bless both you as a parent and your children.

* Sports - Neither of my children has a competitive bone in their body. We are not into team sports, though we have given it a try with soccer and basketball. However we eventually settled on karate. Though they were in a large group of kids who they made friends with, karate served to give them physical activity, but in a way in which they were really competing against themselves.

* Enrichment Classes - Throughout their homeschooling lives, my children have always participated in some type of enrichment classes. Whether it was through a co-op put together casually by a few moms, a huge homeschool program, or courses offered by local parks, they have found both education and friendship here.

* Neighbors - I know that for some people, neighborhood children can pose a problem. But I see them as an opportunity. Be the kind of mom who opens up her home, where all the kids want to hang out. You'll not only be there to guide the conversation and activity, you'll also get to see your child and be able to be a blessing to those children in the neighborhood who don't have a strong relationship with their own parents.

Those are the main areas where we have found social opportunities for our children. They are both happy, well-adjusted children who are comfortable both with children their own age as well as adults. Think about it - when was the last time you were confined to being friends solely with people your own age and socio-economic background? I would wager it was in school. Homeschooling opens up the world to your kids, allowing them to take part in all the normal activities that they will participate in as adults. It also provides them with the opportunity to observe YOU as you go about your life ~ all the little things you do in your effort to honor God as you go through your day.

That's real socialization.

11 comments:

Mylinda said...

I'm glad you posted today. I've missed your posting!! :-) How are you feeling? Better, I hope. Have a great weekend! :-)

Andrea said...

This was a wonderful post, especially the "soap box" parts of it. :-)

Thanks for sharing!

~Andrea
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/andijeane/529567/

Angela said...

Wonderful post!!!!!

ValleyGirl said...

GREAT post, Lori!! Thanks to you and several other homeschooling bloggers, the socialization isn't a hurdle for me anymore. Now it's just giving up the idea of having the house to myself for 8 hours a day, which is something I've been looking forward to! I don't know, it's weird; NEVER before have I even entertained the thought of homeschooling and yet, over the last year, I can't quit thinking about it. My husband thinks I'm crazy.

Kysha said...

What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!

Christy said...

Yes! Well said.

stacey said...

good thoughts!

Ivy Vega from www.ivysmind.com said...

Lori,
It is so tiring to always be answering the same question about socialization. Since I began to homeschool my daughter I saw that her interactions with the other children has more meaning. It is not just so and so from so and so' class this is a friend, or a nice friend as she refers to them now.
In my case, we belong in a homeschool group, she takes ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastic classes. I have to be careful not to over schedule so I don't loose perspective of what is really important.
This is a wonderful post and homeschooling is not for every family. But socialization should not be in the top of the list to restrain your family in making that desicion.
My humble opinion is that children are safer when they are homeschooled.

How a blessed weekend.
Ivy

Mrs. Annie said...

Loved the soapbox.

Our children have been homeschooled since entering Kindergarten, oh so many years ago. Our eldest son graduated last year. He is an intern with Bible Teaching, Inc. Our children have thrived and the only comment I now hear about them is,

"They are such great kids!"

All from the same folks who questioned our decision to keep them home for school.

Ladies, for those of you still in the trenches, keep fighting. It's so worth it!

Shari Ellen said...

We do a lot of our socializing at church, too. It's great that as a family we can go to just one location and everybody can participate in an activity.

Heidi @ Southpaugh Homeschool said...

Great Post!
Thanks for sharing!! : )

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