Saturday, September 23, 2006

But don't you worry about socialization?

Last week at gymnastics, I overhead two Singaporean women discussing their children's schooling. One of them said, "You know, I've heard about people who teach their children at home!" to which the other replied, "Oh, so bad lah!" and they continued in that vein for a few minutes.

It seems in the last few weeks I have had numerous occasions for people to express their shock and disbelief that I homeschool my children in the form of various questions and statements such as, "You must be really brave!" (no, I'm not) or, "I don't have the patience for that" (neither do I) or "how do you do it?!" A common objection to homeschool seems to be that you're isolating your children from others and denying them socialization so that they will grow up to be academically competent yet socially inept. With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, let me just tell you what I did this week in homeschool in an attempt to "socialize" my children and avoid such pitfalls:
Monday: I picked on them for what they were wearing
Tuesday: I stole their backpacks and played keep away with them in the middle
Wednesday: I taught them dirty jokes and swear words
Thursday: I picked them last for kickball during recess, with a strong, "Aw, not them!" comment for emphasis
Friday: I ostracized them from me with no given explanation, so that they can go home and wonder all weekend what they did to lose my friendship.

Next week I plan to make up mean nicknames for them - should be easy with that last name. And I'll probably start a rumor about them.

Obviously my point is that not all socialization is good. Don't be mistaken that my childhood was flooded with this kind of painful interaction with my peers, nor do I think that's all that happens in public school, but I have to remind us that just because you put kids together doesn't mean they'll learn what you want them to learn from each other. Who would you rather have your children socializing with - a bunch of equally immature 6 year olds with values completely different than yours, or family members who love and accept them for who they are? My kids are quite blessed to have two other homeschool families in our complex, and several other good homeschooled friends around Singapore. We get together regularly, there are weekly field trips, and even a soccer team (although Ethan didn't enjoy it - we still go play there with the younger siblings). The soccer coach, after a few weeks, commented on how much more well behaved these kids are than others. Interesting . . .

I'm not trying to put down those who put their kids in public school. But I think one important thing I'm learning in homeschool is that we can't parent on auto-pilot. We have to be conscious of the things our children are learning and being exposed to, rather than just assuming that schools, clubs, friends, etc. will take care of it for us. We have to be intentional.


Michelle said...

Amen to parents being intentional. As a teacher and someone who is involved with the youth at chruch I've met pleanty of parents who expect you to preform some kind of miracle with their kid.
The other night Faith asked me to spank her. She was jumping on a chair and I'd asked her to stop. She turned her little tush towards me and said "Why don't you spank me in the butt mom." I know she didn't get that from me or Kel. And certianly not Audrey.

Sherri said...

Very well said..made me smile!!!
I love the fact that I had 4 year experience with having my children in public school for one main reason...I can compare how it was to how it is. When someone in the public school wants to tell me that it isn't the best thing to homeschool, they can't argue with the fact that we have done both and are ALL more happy now. My kids are more social than they ever were. My daughter is so much more confident and more like the little girl she was before I put her in school to let others decide who she was going to be. The socialization that my kids get through our homeschool group and church is so positive for them. We are so happy.

chinatammy said...

AMEN! You said it perfectly! :) Did you really pick them last for kickball? :)

Anonymous said...

Well, um, yeah. That is socialization. If it doesn't happen in 3rd and 4th grade it will happen at some point in life. Or do you plan to have them live with you in a complex the rest of your/their lives?

I guess my point is that getting picked on can be a good thing. It can build character and teach kids about the reality of the world we live in.

From my very humble perspective we as Christians often try to paint a rose colored view of what life is like in this world. The reality is much different. The reality is that this is a very, very difficult world to live in.