f you are a homeschooling parent, you might understand the question well. I can call it a dreaded question as people have again and again asked me this, and some have even criticized and laughed at as well – are you not worried about the social life of your kid? Is she happy being at home all the time? Is she an introvert?
Some of the questions that were asked really did upset me (not trying to be rude here). Though not a veteran homeschooler, I always tell people that the socialization aspects are one of the most important reasons why I choose to homeschool my daughter.
Just look up any dictionary and you can see that socialization is defined as an activity where an individual mixes or interacts socially with others. And, it is mentioned nowhere that kids only get to socialize when they opt for traditional schooling.
As per a few studies, we as humans need a lot of interactions with our family and friends for our well-being and health. If we look at some of the “Earth’s Happiest Places,” the people there spend at least 4-6 hours every day interacting with their friends and loved ones. One of the best things about homeschooling my daughter is that she gets to experience it first-hand. She not only interacts with her friends and family every day, but spends some quality time with me, her uncle, and her grandparents as well.
When you see a group of homeschooled kids trying to plan a project, or resolve a conflict by themselves, you can understand that these are not the things that are taught in a textbook. As per my experience, kids can socialize easily when you allow them, and bring them closer to another kid, family, or friend. Homeschoolers can spend quality time with kids their age, kids younger to their age, and those who are older than them as well. I can say this with confidence as I have seen my kid and other homeschooled kids doing this.
Our schools need to bring out the best by celebrating the social nature our kids have. But, I somehow feel that they are no longer doing the same. I have often heard the teacher saying – you are not at school to socialize, don’t talk to others, etc. Well, I am not blaming the teachers here, as I understand that they have a very difficult job of teaching new topics/skills to the students. The present-day education focuses more on testing and learning rather than socializing.
As per various education associations, 21st-century kids need to be TAUGHT the 4 C’s.
– Critical Thinking
However, I have seen that most of the schools focus on the right answer than on critical thinking or creativity. They emphasize on competition and not collaboration.
My daughter who has been to school for a few years was socially awkward and used to hesitate to mingle with people. She never knew how to talk to elders or empathize with people. She always used to talk to a closed group of friends, and never mingled with anyone outside of that group. Homeschooling taught her to socialize with elders, kids, and people from various backgrounds, genders, and brain patterns. Can this be possible in a classroom, where students sit and communicate only with “single-year age groups?” I am not sure if it does. Whereas, it works well when kids get to mingle with people of different age groups, genders, cultural backgrounds, etc.
Another important point I want to focus on here is the other definition of socialization. I happened to see that it is also defined as “the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.” This statement has a lot of depth to it. Do kids need to always act in a way that is acceptable in society?
Most of us have had heard these messages as kids, and we have carried them to our adulthood as well. Always follow the instructions, never question things, always go along with the group you are in, always try and act normal, never question those who are in authority, hide your feelings, don’t cry, don’t laugh much, don’t talk much, eat like this…and I can just go on and on.
Honesty, I don’t want to give such messages to my daughter, and I want her to have the freedom to do what she believes in and what she thinks is right. I want her to understand that there are places where she needs to follow the said instructions and also places where she can shred them. I don’t want her to feel like she is walking on thin ice always worrying about what people think about her and if she upsetting anyone.
However, I want her to be kind and show respect to people around her. I don’t want her to hide what she truly is to fit in and just to act normal. I am not raising my daughter to just sit and keep quiet, as I would rather see her standing tall and proud and speak out what is in her mind.