Thursday, February 19, 2009

SO,whaat about Socialization?

Concerns about the social disadvantages of homeschooling are usually related to one of the following questions:
1. How will your child learn to stand in line, raise his hand before speaking, take turns, etc.?
My children learn good social skills as we live our lives together. We stand in line at the grocery store, we greet our neighbors, and we take turns letting each other speak. I coach my children in their day-to-day interactions, and they also learn from watching me.
My children may never perfect the art of waving their hands in the air, shouting "me, me - pick me," and they may never learn the phrase, “no cuts, no buts, no interrupts,” but they will know how to behave properly in social settings.
2. How will your child learn to handle bullies?
When was the last time you were physically threatened, taunted, groped or sexually harassed? I haven’t experienced any of the above since I graduated from high school.
School creates a perfect environment for bullying and victimization. Children who are bullied don’t learn to handle bullies, they learn to tolerate being bullied. Those who can't tolerate it suffer terribly, sometimes hurting themselves or others.
As an adult I have had to deal with difficult people, but I have never been forced to endure daily taunting or physical assault, nor have I had to interact with those who would engage in such behavior.
Homeschooling and socialization allows parents to shield their children from negative encounters until they have developed the self-confidence and maturity to handle them.
3. How will your child learn to be around different types of people?
Public school students spend their days in a room with children who are their same age, socioeconomic status and, more often than not, race. These children quickly learn that older kids do not play with younger kids, girls don't play with boys, rich kids don't play with poor kids, and so on.
As an adult I don’t sit in a room full of other thirty three year olds, taunting the person next to me because she has a big nose and wears glasses. I don't want my children on the giving or receiving end of that unsocial behavior.
One of the biggest myths about homeschooling and socialization is that children are cooped up with their parents and siblings all day. In the course of a week, my children participate in many activities outside of our home. School is an artificial environment. Real life encounters teach children to appreciate diversity.
4. How will your child make friends/learn to be a good friend?
I recently read a book called, Hold On to Your Kids, which greatly encouraged me in this area.
According to Hold On to Your Kids, early peer relationships cause disrespect, bullying, victimization, rebellion and other undesirable behaviors in children. The authors, Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, believe children need relationships with loving adults – not other children.As an adult, I model respect, kindness, selflessness and other traits my children need to be good friends. I have never understood the concept of sending kids to school to learn how to treat each other. How can someone who doesn’t know how to share teach my child to be a good friend?
5. What about homeschooling and socialization?
To quote the late, Dr. Raymond Moore:
“Does anyone who knows children, believe that the yellow school bus takes children down the road to a constructive, positive sense of society? Or returns them in the afternoon or evening more loving creatures than when they left in the morning?"
I think we all know the answer to that question.

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