The following is a guest post written by Helena of Loving to Learn.
One of the things I panicked about when we started homeschooling was this loaded word:
I’d heard that homeschooled kids didn’t get enough of it, didn’t know how to do it, were deprived of it, couldn’t assimilate back into school because of a lack of it, and suffered in general because of not doing it properly. It sounded drastic, dreadful, dire.
Our first week of homeschool (with just my daughter at the time) saw me enrolling my girl in Scouts and searching frantically for a homeschooling playgroup. I knew I wanted and needed to homeschool my daughter, but I couldn’t figure out how we wouldn’t be lonely. It was quite terrifying, this concept of isolation I had―my girl stuck in a friendless world with just me for company.
Well, we got lucky. We found a homeschooling group in the second week. The kids (and parents too!) were lovely people―intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, amusing, independent, engaging, articulate, lively, unique people. How fantastic. (And kind of unexpected―weren’t they all supposed to stare at the ground and mumble?)
Photo by Peter & Joyce Grace
At first I would ask these experienced homeschoolers how they dealt with the S-word―and they’d say, “Truly, it’s nothing. It’s a non-issue. You’ll see.”
We began to meet homeschooling families often–we were invited over for tea, to get to know each other better. They introduced us to other people who introduced us to more people. We were welcomed with kindness and generosity.
When my son joined our homeschool, a term later, the embrace was just as warm. The first family of homeschoolers we ever met are now our great friends. The second family, great friends. Family after family, awesome kid after awesome kid―friends. How lucky we are! (And blessed, which I’ve said before and won’t stop saying until someone comes and hits me on the head with a thesaurus).
The kids are busy outside Homeschool Land as well. They see their old school friends often. They have discovered the activities they love, and let go of those they don’t.
My daughter does art class, because she adores art. My son plays in a band and jazz combo, because he loves music. The kids take tennis lessons, because the teacher is fun and friends come too. Once upon a time I would have said, “Here, look! Good, solid examples of socialization!”
Photo by Jinx!
Now I think, “Wow. I love how my kids are having fun.”
And you can be sure the kids aren’t gazing around with satisfaction and saying, “Oh look! We’re socializing!”
To them, they are just playing, and being, and being true to themselves.
I’ve noticed something else as well, something important.
Sometimes we have become too busy.
Sometimes we feel full of seeing people, and actually want to stay home―hang out, just family, together.
We have rainchecked invitations, and not gone on some excursions. We have sometimes chosen each other’s company first, and not seen other people for days.
We love those days at home. We love having hours to finish a project. The kids are best friends and truly almost never argue. We have fun together. We delight in each other. We talk. Just us. It gives us serenity. Those days feel like a gift.
I have seen my children become social, empowered, independent people, outside of the schoolyard. I have seen them like themselves more and more, every day that passes. That is wonderful.
We socialize without caring we’re socializing. In fact, socialization is a complete non-issue, just as my friends told me it was over a year ago.
I actually think socialization (or lack thereof―and all the stigmas and judgements attached) is the greatest fallacy about homeschooling there is. When people use that word to argue against homeschooling now, I think, “Ah, but you don’t know what I know. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen. How I wish you had.”
How satisfying it is, to figure this out. And how lovely, to find we aren’t lonely at all.
How have you navigated the socialization issue in your homeschool?