Ah… the good old socialization question. The number 1 question that most homeschooling families, including ours, gets asked. What people don’t realize is that it is such a silly question because kids in public schools are not allowed to socialize normally. When, in any other time in a person’s life, are you grouped with only people the same age as you? Last night my children proved to me that kids who are homeschooled are just as or even more socially adept as their public school peers.
We were invited to attend a Christmas party yesterday at a friend’s house. We have never been to her house and did not expect to walk into a party this size. There were easily over 50 kids there as well as their parents, plus a whole lot of neighbors and other friends! We didn’t know anyone aside from the little girl and her mom who invited us, one of my dancers. To say that it was loud, chaotic, and a bit overwhelming is an understatement. My husband later confided that if it was him, he would have turned tail and left right away because he is very uncomfortable in social situation like that. Gabby and AJ however didn’t even hesitate before handing their jackets over and jumping in the fray. They introduced themselves to the other kids, asked to join in the games, and disappeared in the chaos without a glance back. I heard Gabby tell another girl that she likes animals and asked the other girl how old she was while AJ found a whole bunch of little girls playing dolls in a bedroom. It was lovely to see them interact with everyone.
Did I do anything special to “make” Gabby and AJ this social? No way! What I did do was give the girls the tools to feel confident in all kinds of situations like making sure to ask names, to speak clearly, to find a common ground with other kids who are new. Being in the homeschool co-op the girls are used to playing with kids of all ages and accepting everyone for their individual quirks. This is not to say that they never need a little bit of help, but last night definitely put their confidence to the test! Of course there are some kids who are naturally a bit quieter, not every child is going to be the same in every situation. But at least for my girls I now know that they are pretty sure of themselves, even when they don’t know anyone else!
I think that people who do not know homeschooled kids personally are under the impression that they are all shy introverted wall flowers who can’t interact with new people. They worry that we are doing our kids a disservice by teaching them at home, shielding them from the “real world”. It is funny because it’s the real world that teaches my kids how to interact with everyone from the postman to the librarian. We say hello to the special needs workers at the grocery store, I have the girls order for themselves at restaurants, and they now pay for their own treats at the stores. I am pretty sure that they get more socialization opportunities that their public school peers on a daily basis.
Socialization is important but schools are not end all in terms of helping our kids navigate the world. So rest assured that my homeschooled girls will socialize just fine with the rest of the world!