Sunday, January 22, 2012

"But What About the Socialization??"

Of all the questions posed to me over the course of my decades-long career as a homeschooling parent, this one was far and away the most common:

"But what about the socialization?"

{Meaning: "Aren't you worried that you're going to turn your kids into isolated, socially incompetent freaks?"}

The Homeschool Club

And now that they are older, my daughters report back to me that when they tell their peers that they were homeschooled, this response is far and away the most common:

"Wow, you sure don't seem like a homeschooler."

{Meaning, "Wow, you sure don't seem like an isolated, socially incompetent freak."}

So pardon me if I roll my eyes when I read articles or blog posts like this one, where good-intentioned parent educators try to wrap their minds around some way to measure the fact that homeschooled kids are perfectly normal, or even, as this article goes on to suggest, more consistently wired to care about the world. 

It's a noble goal, to quantify such a meaningful attribute, but the world has come up with precious few reliable means for measuring qualitative aspects of human character. Think IQ tests and SAT scores; once considered meaningful measures of human potential, both are now deemed essentially useless.

So why would we have any hopes of contriving a qualitative test to measure something as nebulous as whether kids are properly socialized? 

Easy answer. Because parent educators, bless their hearts, take their job very seriously. They want to do right for their kids. When the overwhelming message that our culture sends to them is, "Are you out of your minds?!? You can't properly socialize your children at home. Unless you send them to a nice, normal school, you are going to turn your kids into isolated, socially incompetent freaks and it will be all your fault," of course they seek objective proof that it will all be alright.

Loving. Your. Child.
PBS Frontline
beauty that moves

But numbers and statistics will never measure a human being's worth. So, parent educators, listen up. I'm going to tell you exactly how to properly socialize your kids.
  • Stop worrying.
  • Let your kids hang out with other kids - other homeschooled kids; non-homeschooled kids; kids from scout troops, sports teams, your church/mosque/temple...wherever you encounter other kids. And don't worry if the kids seem a little rough around the edges; yours aren't perfect either.
  • Mix in people of all ages. Let them talk to the staff at your grocery store, the physicians' assistants at your doctor's office, the friendly neighbor down the street. 
  • Create opportunities to build close, long-lasting relationships with family friends and relatives - grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
  • And most of all, give your kids the gift of their siblings; allow them plenty of unstructured time to concoct their own adventures and work out their own drama. 
Trust me, in such a rich and varied social environment, your kids will thrive. And you won't need any data to prove it...the world will see it in their lives.

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