What are people really asking when they ask you, "What about socialization?" My theory is that that are just concerned that your kids are holed up in your house all day, hitting the books, pale from lack of sun, friendless, and out of shape from their lack of recess and gym class.
OK, that might be true...
I mean, school is where you find friends, and have access to clubs, band, organized sports, and all kinds of things. Right? The reality is, back in the day, it might have been very much like that. My brother's kids were homeschooled in the 80's. They still talk about the time a neighbor called the police on them and a truant officer came to the house and all the girls ran and hid in the shower. They really were a bit isolated; they had to be. You couldn't just tell the cashier at Wally World that you homeschooled. She might just call the cops. And you sure didn't take them out with you!
All these years later, it's a whole new world. Now when I mention that I homeschool to the cashier, she always seems to have a sister, friend, or neighbor that also homeschools. Most often they tell me they think it's great, and they seldom pop the socialization question. I think the whole attitude towards homeschooling has changed.
First of all, few homeschoolers are holed up all day. It seems that lots of folks have realized what a gold mine we homeschoolers are. At least where I live, lots of places now have homeschool classes, homeschool hours, etc. My kids can go bowling for a dollar a game, go iceskating, hit the batter's cages, or play soccer, all during school hours and often at reduced or group rates. These places are thrilled to accommodate us during hours which used to be very unprofitable to them. Call the cops? No. Market to us? Yes! My kids have all participated in several homeschool gym classes and other sports programs. They've also done community sports. They're still pale, but that's just genetics. LOL
The most music I ever had in school was sitting around at my desk singing old songs out of a book. Not that thrilling. It sure didn't help teach me to carry a tune, though I still know all the words to "Sixteen Miles on the Erie Canal." Music lessons have always been readily available to kids outside of school, so I don't think anyone ever worried about homeschooling kids missing out on music. Once a kid can play, what's to stop them from playing with a band or orchestra? What do you know? That would be socialization. As a matter-of-fact, my son is going to be playing for the youth band this week at church for the first time. (Go Ren!)
So what about clubs? No, you don't need school to have clubs. I mean, there have always been Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We've never done those, but my girls were in an American Girls club, and my boys in a boys club. A couple of my kids also are in the Teen Book Club at the library. They also go to movies there, paint the windows, do crafts, and even get books out. Two of my kids also volunteer on the Teen Advisory Board. Oh, you can take on leadership roles as a homeschooler, too? You don't need student government? I guess so. My son was the Advisory Board president, and my daughter is currently vice president. Many of the kids who volunteer at the library are homeschoolers.
But what about plain old "classroom" etiquette, learning to keep deadlines, or working in groups. That's where co-ops come in. Our co-op is great and my kids really enjoy it. They are all familiar with the classroom experience. They can raise their hands and take tests with the best of them. They even make friends. (Not that they haven't done this in Sunday school all along.)
I think the real problem nowadays is way too much socialization. I mean, I am running these kids all over town. Sundays we're at church in the morning, and a couple of kids are in a discipleship class there in the evening. Tuesday morning is co-op, and Tuesday afternoon is Grandma's. Tuesday evening my son is at band practice. On Wednesday we are all at church again, and once a month on Thursday is the book club. Friday the girls take a sewing class in the afternoon, and the boys and I visit a friend and her boys, while our girls sew. Saturday is often a board meeting or some other event. In between are other library programs, other church events, other just hanging out times, and on and on it goes. Oh, I forgot Monday night bowling. Oh, and Saturday night Bible study and skateboarding. And never, never forget about Facebook! LOL
I'm getting tired just thinking about it!
But like I said, not too many people really ask me much about socialization anymore, but if they do, I think I have an answer and here it is:
What about socialization? It is a problem, I admit. We are really going to have to think about cutting back. It's starting to really cut into our school time! :)
This post was written as part of a "Blog Cruise" from our TOS Homeschool Crew. Several of us "crew mates" wrote on the same topic. If you would like to read the other posts, click here. While you're there, you might just want to become a fan of the TOS Homeschool Crew's page. You'll find lots of good stuff there! :)