Ohh I said it. It’s like saying Voldemort’s name out loud. Very scary!
No one talks about it to a homeschooling family. Instead, they talk behind their backs. Their kid is going to grow up so weird. So unsocialized…!
Or they take the other approach and accuse you, “Don’t you know your child will grow up sheltered and unsocialized?”.
Like this topic has never crossed our minds.
What does that mean exactly?
According to dictionary.com, socialization is defined as a “continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.”
Essentially everything is socialization. Going to the grocery store and interacting with the clerk is socializing. As well as going to the library and talking with other patrons.
We need to squash the stereotype that homeschoolers are unsocialized. All it does is cause worry among parents.
Yes, I have known some of those homeschoolers that are awkward and unsure of themselves but on the other hand, I know plenty of public school kids that act the same way.
The thing is EVERY parent should be thinking about this. If your child spends all day in a classroom with students the exact same age as them. Are they truly being socialized?
Isn’t it more important to be around people of all different ages, backgrounds, and cultures?
So, what are some things we can do as parents to “socialize” our children? I’m talking to everyone here, not just homeschooling families. Let me tell you why.
I have witnessed some amazing things as a homeschooling parent and realizations of how we all could be doing better.
Here are two examples.
I used to pick up a public-school child after school for a friend. The first time I arrived at the school he stood across the street from me, just standing there looking at me. He knew I was there to pick him up, knew my pickup, recognized me and my children. Then what was the problem? After a couple of minutes, I got out and walked over to him. It turns out that he had never crossed a street without a crossing guard. I’m not talking a 5-year-old. This young man was 10 years old. He literally didn’t know what to do because someone had always done it for him. So, from that day on we practiced. It was not a busy street and I talked him through it. Look both ways, etc. It was a life skill he had never been taught.
Here is another example. My boys decided they wanted to play YMCA basketball. We had just moved to the area and they had never had the opportunity to play basketball before. The first practice the coach had everyone line up against the wall to run relays across the gym. When she blew her whistle everyone ran, except my two boys. They just stood there not having any idea what they were supposed to do. Of course, this caused laughter and embarrassment for them. I realized at that point I needed to incorporate some of the common practices from public school into their education. I knew I needed to better prepare them for life.
Those are just two examples of how kids both public schooled and homeschooled need more socialization or what I prefer to call life skills.
Life skills are essentially any skill that is needed to live a productive and independent life.
Examples of life skills are cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, changing a tire, and counting money.
Kids need to learn how to do things by themselves. To do this, they need to be around other people. To socially interact with adults and children of all ages.
I’m going to give you a list of surefire ways to help socialize and teach your children life skills.
This is just a start but it’s to get you thinking. Many of these are geared towards older children but there are a few you could do with little ones.
- Joining Boy scouts
- Going to programs at the library
- Attending community events
- Church activities
- Volunteer work
- Buying something at the store and having to interact with the clerk.
- Asking questions at the museum
- Swimming at the pool with other kids
- Playing at the park
- Spending time with grandparents
- Walking the dog
- Flying kites with the neighbor kids
- Participating in a theater program
- Joining after-school programs
Each of these things involves interacting with other people. That is the goal, right? To interact and socialize (there is that word again) with the public.
Every kid goes through a time they aren’t the most self-confident and are awkward. Instead of judging them or their parents for their schooling choices just accept them as they are. We are all mothers, we need to band together. We need to raise this next generation to be productive, socialized, independent citizens. So, quit asking if homeschoolers are socialized. I would be willing to bet that most them are.