Socialization. It’s a big word, and it’s one you hear used a lot when it comes to homeschooling.
Aren’t you worried about socialization?
I hope your kids are getting socialized.
How are you socializing your kids?
These are all questions I’ve fielded everywhere from the playground to the grocery store checkout line.
First of all, if you’ve ever asked this question of a homeschool family – thank you for caring about kids. Really. In a world that can be self-absorbed and isolated, thanks for valuing the fact that children grow up healthy and whole.
To answer your question, here’s why I’m not worried about socialization when it comes to giving my kids a parent-directed education.
Education is far more than socialization.
When we hold education’s greatest value up as socialization, we do it a disservice. Education – a real love of learning – is so much more than structured time spent in a classroom. It’s far more than socialization. I think teachers and parents would both agree that education is exploration and imagination and character and a million other magnificent things. Let’s not limit the benefits of education to a specific social structure.
Homeschooling trains kids in a wide variety of social situations.
According to the CDC, the average American lives to be nearly 79 years old. We spend 18 of those years as a child, and the following 61 as an adult. I think it’s worthwhile to use the time I’m given with my kids to train them in navigating social situations. Whether it’s exchanging polite conversation at the grocery store, giving a presentation to a local business, entering the county fair, or visiting people in a nursing home, our family highly values equipping our kids to handle a wide variety of scenarios with courage and kindness.
Homeschooling is not just at home.
Homeschooling looks vastly different than it did even 15 years ago. There are hundreds of programs, classes, and activities for homeschool students in the area – many of them free or low-cost. It’s not a question of how can my children participate, but how can we choose? My kids currently participate in homeschool assistance program classes, gymnastics, a local co-op, and a variety of field trips, not to mention non-homeschooling activities. We’re thankful to spend time each week with a variety of kids and ages, while still being able to focus our time at home.
Homeschooling encourages individuality.
One of my biggest fears upon beginning homeschooling was that our family would be labeled as weird. Who doesn’t crave acceptance and want it for their kids, too?
But the truth of the matter is, no family is completely normal. We all have habits and values that set us apart. And the older I get, the more I think that the things that make us individuals are what make us wonderful. I don’t want my kids to stop pursuing an interest because it’s unpopular according to their peers. I want them to freely follow their God-given abilities without pressure to conform.
Homeschooling enables my kids to see people through a wide lens.
When it comes to friends, my kids see beyond grade level to interest and character. They view anyone as a potential friend – regardless of age. Isn’t that what adulthood really is – people who come together around a common interest and values rather than age? If I was only friends with people my age now, I’d have three friends. My kids regularly play with kids of all ages, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Family is where we first learn how to be a friend.
Most of us have very few lifelong friends, but family relationships are forever. Growing up, I spent far more time with friends who I never talk to as an adult. Looking back, I wish I’d chosen to spend more of that time with my family. I want my kids to be friends both now and as adults. One of the greatest ways I can cultivate those friendships is by providing them with the gift of time together.
I firmly believe that one of the most impactful ways I can teach my kids to go out and love the world around them is by teaching them first how to love the people in our home.
I hope I’ve given you a small window into the life of a homeschool family.
For those of you who love having your children in a school setting, I hope I’ve answered a question you may have about homeschooling.
And for those of you, like me, who are interested in homeschooling, but have so many doubts that hold you back, I hope this can be an encouragement to you in what homeschooling can be.
I think we can all agree that the very best education occurs in the context of community and accountability – whether that’s within the walls of our schools or our homes.
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