April 8, 2015

5 Common Myths About Homeschooling: Myth #3~ Social Awkwardness

We've gone over two of the five common myths that homeschooling families hear all the time. But I saved one of the big ones for today. It really is the most publicized one. You know. The one that everyone seems to be obsessed about. How all homeschooling children end up socially awkward by not being in same scenarios as public schooled children. You know. Because children can only learn about how to behave in social settings by being in school. With the same age of children. Every day. For about 12 years (or 10 if they have mixed high school classes). And you know, it's impossible for children to learn proper social behaviors any other way. Right? Um...say what?
It goes something like this. Two parents are standing at the edge of a park playground watching the children (including their own) play together. Parent #1 decides to start up a conversation...
Parent #1 "So, where do your children go to school?"
Parent #2 "Oh we decided to homeschool our children."
(pregnant pause)
Parent #1 "Oh. That's nice. I don't have the patience for that and I'd always be worried I was screwing things up. (a pause...) Aren't you worried that they aren't going to get to be around other children? Won't that make it weird for them?"
At this point, Parent #2--our homeschooling parent--has several things running through his or her mind. The main one is the fact that this other parent has obviously failed to notice that the homeschooling parent's children are on this same playground. Playing with the other parent's children. Without any weirdness. But rather than make a snarky remark (something very tempting I'm afraid in times like this), the homeschooling parent simply says: "No. We spend a lot of time outside the home with other children. They get to be around other children quite a lot actually."
Parent #1 (rather skeptically) says: "Oh. But what do you do?"
Parent #2 (now a bit snarkily) says with a grin: "Come to the park playground regularly."

Go ahead. You might laugh, but I assure you, I have at least one friend who had this conversation with someone in a similar scenario. 

Okay. Time for a confession. Before we made the decision to homeschool, I had major concerns about this idea. I thought that homeschooling was a removal from everything, so how DID homeschooled children manage in the "real world?" And I (like this parent in my scenario) completely missed the obvious fact.

Children do NOT need to be in a public school setting to learn what they need to know to participate successfully in society. 


Here's the thing. Homeschooling isn't a box or a bubble unless you make it one. Our children don't just stay in their house all day long and never interact with anyone except their parents and siblings (although I will admit there are a few exceptions. But they are very few.) Instead, they are out and about. Exploring the world and meeting new people. Many are members of league teams like soccer or baseball. Others are active in 4H (yes, you can do that without being in school!). Some are part of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Heritage Girls or the like. They are going to summer camps. They are getting dance lessons. And here's the thing...they have more time to do it because they aren't stuck inside a public school time schedule!

Here are some comments from moms who homeschool about what their children are doing outside the homeschool box to "socialize":

Linda:  My daughter belongs to a group called Keepers at Home. We meet 2 times a month. It is with other homeschoolers. She also participates in homeschool swim lessons at the Y. She has passed all levels. She is not in the class anymore but is used by the teacher as a demonstrator of strokes.

Janet: There is a thriving teen/preteen group in our church congregation and region that have our kids busy as bees. They have a teen family retreat every year, prom, swim party, Bible studies, classes and sports. They also attend camp every year. We don't do much outside of those friends because there is SO much to do within the Church activities. My daughter was part of a swim team until we moved and another daughter was taking piano.

Elaine: We live in a neighborhood full of kids and we host a lot of play dates especially in the summer, meet friends at the pool, farmers market, park, etc...We have swim lessons, neighborhood play group, gymnastics lessons, park district summer camp, and other park district classes. I'm social, so we do a lot of activities because I like to get out myself.

Diana: We meet with our local homeschool group about once a week. We spend time with another family from church usually once a week. We attend a homeschool open swim time. We are currently involved in a homeschool baseball league. We also take classes through the local pool when we want. There are a variety of other classes & sports we have access to if we never wanted to be home!

Stephanie: Sometimes we have difficulty getting school done because we're socializing. I had a public school mom say that I should be ashamed because education should come first. This right after she had been complaining of the public school's educational shortcomings and immediately throwing out the "what about socialization?" card upon finding out we homeschool. I was confused. LOL. We have access to a lot, but we have to pay for our activities. My kids chose ballroom dance this year. Go figure. In the past we have attended a mom-sponsored PE activity every week where they learned the basics of soccer, tennis, etc. also, many places in the area recognize that homeschoolers may be available during times of the day when they don't get much business so we get great discounts on gymnastics, trampoline parks, rock climbing, martial arts, etc.

Dona: Our family was involved in homeschooling groups. It is a great help. Not that my kids made long lasting friendships but they learned to work in a group with others their age and older. Also swim lessons at the Y. This is super because they can be in a class with others learning something very valuable. Church is #1 for us though. Here is where the long lasting friendships have been made and they have learned the ups and downs of relationships. They learned it is ok to have some good friends and some not as good, but still have so much in common. That is why our church camp is huge for us!! My involvement helped get them involved in camp at a young age because " mom" was there. And each year I have watched them blossom from the camp experience because camp will push them beyond their comfort zone in a safe environment and that is so important in today's world. No matter a family's choice of education, teaching our children to challenge themselves, and pick themselves up when they fall is crucial. Camp will do that for them, and they will watch others experience this as well.

Carmen: I chuckle when people use to ask me if I worry about my kids socialization as a home schooler. They were and still all some of the most social human beings I know! We worked really hard at providing proper socialization opportunities. The joy of home schooling is that the parents get to choose the peer group (to some extent).We have always been in home school co-ops and tutorship programs. My kids have made life long friends there and so have I. In addition, we have been tremendously blessed with an amazing home school soccer team for their high school years. They are competitive, playing many of the local schools (which provides a whole new level of social skill dealing with public school athletes! ) The coaches are phenomenal Christian mentors (although not our denomination of Christianity) We do not take this for granted and realize it as a tremendous blessing from God.

Lyndee: My kids have always gone to a homeschool co-op one day a week. Some of them have had neighborhood friends, others had to be driven to and from friends houses. But they have always had each other and were MUCH closer than my brother and I ever were. They have all played sports.
My kids have played club soccer with public school kids, they have played on a homeschool team and played indoor soccer with homeschool kids. Girls all took gymnastics and ballet.

Tiffany: My children play with the neighborhood kids all the time!

Tina: We live next door to other homeschoolers and they play outside almost every day. We play T ball, baseball and basketball with our city leagues. If they ever have a game on Sabbath, we just tell them we have to miss those games.

Millie: I don't currently home school but am planning to starting with next school year. In TN children who are homeschooled do have access to the same sport activities available to the children in public school. The way I understand it they can join the team, if they qualify, for the school they would attend if they were in public school.

Lori: Sometimes we homeschoolers need to tone down the socializing though because sometime they can become in danger of not getting the school work done. LOL. My boys are taking swim lessons along side a public school at the local leisure centre. It's rough though, cause when all the other kids put back on their school uniforms, we have to get back into our shorts and t-shirts and bike home in the warm sun. They also play squash, rock climb, kids boot camp and mountain bike.

Again, I state. You do not need to be a part of the public school system to learn how to function properly in society! As you can see, there is a plethora of activities that goes on for the average homeschool family!

Okay. So what about if you live in the country where some of these activities are not available or are harder to find?

This is my personal challenge. So I have to work harder than most to make it happen. But every week, the boys attend storytime at the library where they learn to interact with the adults and children who are there (being quiet, sharing craft supplies, taking turns, waiting in line for snacks, etc). Weekly, we attend church where they spend time with their church friends (and interact with other adults). During the summer, we meet up with other homeschool families for field trips to museums, zoos, and other fun things like that.
A web of "weird" homeschooled children
But the favorite activity of the year...summer camp!
Little Britches with new camp friends
For the last two summers, we've taken Little Britches to summer camp where he's away from home for four days. It's the highlight of the year for him and he eagerly fills out his application each spring for it. He has made some wonderful friends and gets to experience all kind of team building activities. He eats, sleeps, learns and plays with his dorm mates during this time and really blossoms. He "grows up" every year after attending. This last year gave him a challenge of having a special needs boy in his dorm. He learned about how to respond in situations he's never experienced before. He did great and told me all about it.

He was the only homeschooled boy in his dorm. 
But...but...isn't it weird for him to be with all those other public school kids? To not know stuff like they do? Um, what kind of stuff? Bullying? Peer pressure? Testing? Girlfriends? Homework?

I am happy he doesn't know those kind of things! But you know what? In all truth, bullying happens anywhere. Some of the biggest bullies are on the park playgrounds. So those who state that my child won't know about how to respond to bullies if he doesn't go to school (um, that's a bad thing??), can't honestly say that bullies are only found there.

And the fact that he was the only homeschooled boy in his dorm...it didn't matter. Kids really don't really care about that kind of stuff. Only adults seem to really make a big deal. He said they just asked what grade he was in. And once he told them, they were like "cool." and that was it. Of course they are also boys...LOL.

Before I conclude, I also want to say that I KNOW there truly are some socially awkward homeschoolers. But you know what? There are socially awkward public schoolers too. You can't say that one is exclusive of the other! A lot of it depends on a child's personality--regardless of their educational background! But for some reason, that argument gets thrown out the window in the socialization debate...

In conclusion I want to share something that many have told me.

You know what most homeschool parents are told by others after the others have been around their children? Because we do get told things like this. We get told that the person wouldn't have been able to pick out our child as the homeschooled one if they didn't know already. Or how personable, knowledgeable, polite, helpful, kind, and respectful their children are. As if these findings are surprising to the person doing the telling. I have been told this. More than once.

If that is what happens from being homeschooled and if it is what stands out as what makes my children weird...and that is what is being considered "socially awkward"--well then. I am PROUD my child is socially awkward by those definitions.

We have talked about the three most common myths (I think) relating to homeschooling: Patience of Job, No Second Thoughts, and Social Awkwardness. Join me to tomorrow as I explore the idea that homeschool moms are 100% confident teaching everything their child ever needs to learn. (hahahahahahahahahahaha)

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Treasuring Life's Blessings
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
Some Call It Natural
Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie's Homeschool Corner

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Does your child have out of school activities they enjoy?
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