Friday, May 16, 2008


Here's a question that I get a lot as a homeschooling parent: "What about socialization?" As in, 'how could your child possibly be learning about social skills without being in a room with many other children 5 days a week?'

And I understand completely where these concerned people are coming from - I worried about socialization lots back when Luke was still in school.

I don't worry about it anymore. In fact, I think the socialization my guys get as homeschoolers beats hands-down what goes on in school.

After much thought, and in as few words as possible, here's why: homeschooled kids spend their time experiencing the world - out in it, talking to people, doing - rather than "learning."

That, and they have more freedom and choice.

They are free to do what they love in more of their waking hours, and to choose what they want to learn about - and this applies even to kids who aren't 'unschooled' because formalized lessons for a few kids take far, far less time than formalized lessons for a classroom-full.

And believe me, a kid who has more freedom and choice in his (or her!) daily life is a happier kid. Much happier.

Well, how did you feel about being stuck in school, doing work that somebody had deemed important when the wide world beckoned to you, just out of reach? Did you, just sometimes, feel resentful? Or even outright angry at the tremendous drain on your time? Think about how much friendlier you might have been, how much more positive your 'socialization,' if you'd had more freedom.

Here's an example of the socialization that goes on in the lives of our homeschoolers:

Friends up the street have gone Pokemon crazy, building an awesome city out of boxes, dollhouse furniture, markers, rocks - you name it, Poke York has it. They use Monopoly money so the Pokemon who live there can furnish their homes, they've built roads so they can get from place to place. Poke York is so big, it's taken over the family garage!

My favorite thing about it is that the Pokemon - keychains with a little Pokemon figure attached - have become these kids' families. Luke thinks of himself as the parent of the keychains he's got, and loves to take them to their home in Poke York.

The other day, he came to me asking for a carrying case for his little buddies; when I found him this -

an old purse of mine - he told me how excited he was because "now all 4 of us have carrying cases!" He carries his Pokemon proudly in his 'sash,' and the joy he feels at being part of this little band - of belonging - is palpable.

We've spent about $12 on the Pokemon keychains, and other than that everything springs from the kids' imaginations, with objects found around the house.

In other words, this club that is Poke York contains all the benefits of positive socialization - friendship, inclusiveness (even to the point of accepting 3 year-old Owen into the group), fairly high-level thinking and problem-solving, and imagination - with no negatives as far as I can see.

People worry that if a kid doesn't get used to the negative socialization ('baby talk! baby talk! it's a wonder you can walk!') that is so prevalent in schools, they'll never develop a tough enough skin to be able to weather it later.

I used to think that, too, but I've changed my mind.

I think now that, if a kid has the confidence in his (or her!) own ideas, and is secure in the knowledge that he (or she!) belongs in some way, to some group, then the thick skin will develop, not as a scarred, tattered skin but as one that is whole and well-insulated.

This is what homeschooling has taught me.

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