THEN…

“Your friends will be there, it’ll be fun!” (That was me).

“I don’t wanna go, it’ll be boooooorrrrriinnng!” (Clay, falling to the ground dramatically).

“Well, I want to get out of the house, so we’re going.” (Me again, putting my foot down).

He needed to go to these activities, he needed to learn how to sit still and listen for half an hour, but most importantly, we didn’t go anywhere yesterday, we saw no one! I was a failure as a homeschool Mum, I forgot to socialize the child!!

I forgot to socialize the kids meme

NOW…

“We’ve got Minecraft Day on Thursday, but other than that we’re free this week, do you want me to organise anything else?”

“Hey? Naaa, I’m good,” He looks up quickly, then returns to his screen, “Kaiden is coming on soon.”

The joys of technology.

The age old response when you mention homeschooling is inevitably, “What about socialization?”.

*palm slap to the forehead*

Really? Again?

Forced association is not socialization. The Merriam-Webster definition of socialization states that it is “to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable in society; to talk to and do things with other people in a friendly way.”

Can someone please tell me how a child can learn “to behave in a way that is acceptable in society,” when for 5 days a week, 6 hours a day, a child is removed from society. In an environment where you have to ask permission to go to the toilet, can’t speak unless you put your hand up, can’t eat or drink when you are hungry, and can’t leave when you’ve had enough?

Oh oh, and the kicker, bullying is seen as “character building”.

Bugger that.

When we first started homeschooling, I fell into the trap of trying to make Clay go to all these classes and meet ups, thinking that I needed to keep him “socialized” as much as possible. He hated the classes (no suprises there, “sit down, be quiet, raise your hand to talk” blah blah…), and he preferred small play dates than larger groups.

Australian unschooler video gaming

For his birthday Clay wanted 5 of his friend’s and an hour at Timezone…

Australian unschooler outdoor play

…activities are generally organised with small groups where Clay can connect with his mates, this was a play day with about 6 kids…

Australian unschooler geocaching

…or just one on one time works well for him also…

Well I’ll be….you know what? I prefer smaller gatherings too…and generally don’t like plopping myself in a situation where I don’t know anyone. Especially if it’s a large group.

Kids who are homeschooled/Unschooled form friendships which are based on similar interests, not just because they happen to be in the same class. An effort has to be made to connect to each other, which for Clay involves organising playdates, Skype and joint activities.

As far as “bullying” goes, there’s no escaping differences in character and opinion, it happens in life, but being that parents are ever present when homeschooling, these differences are addressed, there and then. Children are not forced apart, kept away from each other by confining one or the other at recess, parents are not told by a third party “Oh no we can’t tell you who it was,” when confronted with their child coming home in tears.

Nope, in the real world, parents talk, they sit down with the kids, they figure things out. We’ve been on both ends of this, being “bullied”, and being the “bully”, and you know what? In both situations kids are given the benefit of the doubt, there’s an understanding that these kids are learning how to act in social situations, that mistakes are made, and that some kids just don’t get along. It’s all good.

At least, that’s been my experience.

When as parents we take the attitude that learning social skills is sometimes just as tricky as learning algebra, that children are not “mean” for no reason, when the kids see us as adults working through our differences, isn’t that better than simply punishing and brushing it aside?

And at the end of the day, if the issue cant be resolved, then we can leave. Unlike in school.

So please tell me again, how my child will not learn how to act in society because he doesn’t go to school. Ah-ha.

I love that Clay has the opportunity to explore friendships with all sorts of people of all ages and genders, and if he ever feels he needs to make more connections, then we will go forth and socialize. It’s not hard. We don’t live in a box.

Until then, he’s happy with his handful of buddies, and that’s just perfect for him.

xx

PS. Check out this page by Sandra Dodd, or this podcast by Amy Childs