Ask any homeschooler and they’ll probably tell you they hate getting this question: “but what about socialization?” It’s something of a rite of passage for any homeschooler. It’s also getting really old. Haven’t we homeschoolers proven time and again that we’re doing just fine?
As I contemplated our schedule for the upcoming year (yes, I plan ahead. I’m weirdly compulsive like that) I realized that I had committed the cardinal sin of homeschooling. We’re overbooked. And none of it is stuff I’m willing to give up, because it’s all critical to our schooling.
So if anyone opens their mouth and says “but what about socialization?” I’m liable to collapse on the floor hysterically laughing. Socialization? You mean that thing where we spend time with people? Yeah, that. I’m having to schedule in time at home. How’s that for socialization, people? My kids will be around other kids nearly EVERY day in some sort of school setting.
Yay me. The introvert in me quails with trepidation.
Can we PLEASE be stuck in the house for a day?
For a lot of us homeschoolers, socialization isn’t the issue. Getting time to stay at home is. Sure, none of this stuff is an all-day ordeal, but when you count drive time and prep, it eats up a good part of the day. Plus, by the time we get home, the kids need time alone to regroup and I’m worn out.
For now, we’re set up to do Lego club one day, field trips another, science co-op the next, and art class after that. That’s 4 days of specific school stuff, not even counting the extracurriculars like scouts or ballet. And, if the Engineer and the Destroyer are both in speech therapy, we’ll be kicking our heels at the school for some time too. Still waiting to hear how that will work out.
Proof, meet pudding
Socialization? It’s going to be non-stop socialization! Team work, collaboration, listening to authority figures, and having a consistent bunch of kids to hang out with. Why would anyone wonder if my kids are well-socialized?
After co-op last week, we all went to lunch together and gave the kids a chance to get the wiggles out. We’re planning to do picnics at parks when it’s warm enough. As I sat and watched the kids make up a game together and run around like crazy kids in the play area, I had to laugh. Yup, look at our unsocialized kids play – clearly they’re unsocialized, right? Wrong.
I know, I know
I get it. People don’t understand homeschooling. They can’t understand how it works, or how parents could possibly replace the schools. They’re curious, they’re assuming a lot, and they’re pulling from some really old stereotypes about homeschooling. Even though homeschooling is becoming more main stream, the stereotypes about strict religious homeschoolers keeping their kids isolated are still out in full force.
It’s even worse now that I have 2 kids to worry about. This next school season I’ll be “officially” homeschooling 2 kids. Nothing will really change, of course, because I’m already doing school with the Princess. She’s having fun, and begs to do math questions when the Engineer is doing his. She tags along on every field trip, of course, and she’s hugely disappointed when she’s not allowed to participate in co-op. Yet.
It’s really obvious to me that the only way to manage both of their needs is to do the same things with each of them. She’s going into Lego club, scouts, science co-op, and field trips too. She’s already doing art class, and loving every minute of it. They’re doing the same thing now, but I know as they get older I’ll have to split things up more. And go nuts doing it.
So people, listen up. Don’t ask us homeschoolers about socialization. Just don’t. It’s going to put us on edge and make us feel defensive, and it’s a stereotype that you don’t even realize you’re perpetuating. Ask us how school is going. Ask the kids what’s their favorite thing they’ve learned this week. Ask them what they’re learning about in co-op. Just don’t ask if they have any friends, because are you kidding me? Of course they do! (I’m looking at you, oh mandated reporter pediatrician.)
And if you really care about my family, ask me if I’m doing ok. Because trust me, all this socialization is going to drown me. All this running around is going to wear me out. I’m the one concerned about socialization – too much socialization!
“My kids are fine. Thank you for your concern.” That’s my stock answer now. Don’t engage, don’t defend, don’t continue.
p.s. my post-art-class brain keeps trying to type “sterilization” instead of “socialization.” So my apologies if I missed one somewhere!