We’ve all been there.
A well-meaning friend, relative or neighbor nods, smiles–then here it comes: “Homeschooling sounds great, but what about socialization?”
In my article, The Socialization Question, I dive deeply into the subject, but for now, I want to give you some practical advice on how I’ve learned to answer the inevitable questions.
1. Find the common ground.
“I’m concerned about it too because socialization is teaching kids how to function well in society.”
2. List the characteristics of a well-socialized person.
“I want my kids to be kind and respectful, hard working, confident, self-motivated, and competent to meet any challenge that comes their way.”
3. Suggest there is more than one way to socialize a child.
“I don’t think spending all day with 30 other kids and one adult is necessarily the best way to accomplish those goals.”
4. Offer examples of how your child is being positively socialized.
“My child enjoys talking to people of all ages.” Classrooms are age-segregated.
“They are learning how to deal with conflict because I am always right there, helping them work through things. A teacher is over-extended and can’t see everything that goes on.”
“My kids are independent thinkers and problem-solvers. They don’t need an adult to tell them how to do everything.”
Classrooms are set up to keep kids quiet, in place, and dependant on the teacher. This one hit home when one of my children was helping life-long public schoolers paint a room. The other kids (ages 15-17) couldn’t spread plastic sheeting without getting detailed instructions from the teacher.
“They are learning to stand up for themselves and not be afraid to express their opinions.” Have an example of something that happened recently.
“They have friends from various backgrounds and are learning how to value those differences.” Mention relationships in the neighborhood, at church, clubs, park district classes, sports teams, etc.
5. The most important thing to say:
“I think the foundation of a well socialized person is a positive self-image. Without that, it is nearly impossible to value others or learn from them. Keeping my kids out of the classroom and all the cruelty dished out by other kids can only help them develop a solid self-esteem.” Few people can argue with this.
I also like to say, “Instead of learning life from other eight-year-olds, my child has an attentive adult (me) available to answer questions and offer feedback 24/7–sort of like a live-in Life Coach.”
What will your friend say to all this?
Let’s hope she has a new appreciation for you and your homeschooling journey. If not, that’s OK. You’ve stated your case calmly and intelligently, and here’s your chance to model good socialization yourself.
How do you handle the socialization question?