The “S” Word

The “S” word… It’s a doozy… SOCIALIZING.

Yup, I said it.

Parents often tell me they “can’t” homeschool. When I discuss this with them often times their defense for sending their kids to public school is because little Johnny is so social he needs to be around other kids.

Hmmm. Interesting. Let’s talk about this idea of socializing and what it really means.

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Here is the definition of socialize from dictionary.com. I think all of us can agree on this definition, however, it’s how we interpret it, or are taught to interpret it that is the gray area of misunderstanding.

Many parents of public school kids use socializing as one of the main reasons they are sending their kids to school or as one of the main reasons they can’t homeschool. This is a natural thinking process of many people in our society because it is what we were taught to believe. Most of us attended a traditional style school. What was the result? Classrooms filled with other kids similar in our age that we had to spend most of our time with. You become friends with some of the other kids, because they’re the only kids you really see since you spend more time with them in a classroom than you do at home. This is the natural progression of socialization. However, as. former public school teacher, “socializing” wasn’t on my curriculum. There was listening and speaking, yes. I would observe children in social settings and draw conclusions on their social abilities to an extent, yes. But socializing isn’t something that is a focus on at school.

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This image above brings about so many truths. Teachers and parents often tell their children, “School is not for socializing, it is for learning.” Then just as fast they are quick to defend that socializing is why the kids are at school. Yes, I understand that the kids get to talk and play and interact at school. But is that socializing?

In my personal opinion, socializing is when someone is able to talk, interact, or engage in an activity with someone appropriately, regardless of age, gender, etc. Putting children in classrooms with others like them and wanting them to learn how to socialize is more of a detriment. These parameters of who they are allowed to see and talk to (mostly those in their class or their grade level), controlling when they can talk, controlling how they interact, etc is not socializing. I refer to this as forced association. Now, we all have moments or times in our lives where this happens, yes. But forced association is not socialization.

Socialization is the ability to interact with any other person appropriately. Sometimes this may mean children the same age, sometimes this means adults, sometimes this means older or younger kids. In homeschooling, children are able to learn at their own speed in an educational setting. There is no need to “socialize” during a math lesson or a history lesson. But opportunities to learn how to socialize are abundant. Libraries, museums, sports, 4h, camp, church, other families, parks, etc. This natural opportunities allow children to learn how to socialize in different settings appropriately with people who may or may not be in the same grade as them or may or may not sit close to them in class.

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I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to keep my kids home with me and pursue a homeschool education. My children have shown that they are socially diverse and able to interact with others similar to them and different from them in a variety of settings. It is important to be able to have this necessary skill of being around and interacting with others different from you for this thing called life. Once you get into college and the work field, you will have to be able to adapt and interact and even talk to people who are not like you. I ask you this, is a traditional school setting fostering an environment for children to learn how to appropriately interact with people different than them?

I’ll end with this.

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