The first thing people ask when they hear that your kids are home schooled is, ‘but what about socialization?’. Like I’m raising my kids in a cupboard.
And even if I was, how many of you had a good experience at school? Maybe you were one of the popular kids who fitted in and made friends easily. If that was the case, then you probably had a good experience. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I was teased, bullied and tormented for 12 years in various ways and I left school feeling worthless, stupid and ugly.
What’s so great about Socialization anyway?
The ‘socialization’ I experienced was rubbish, and the only thing it taught me is that people suck. So please forgive me if I don’t believe sending my kids to mainstream school, just for the socialization aspect, is worth it.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that things haven’t improved in the last 20 years. My son was in school from 2010-2015. In those 5 years he was verbally abused, picked on, ridiculed and had his possessions damaged. His socialization experience taught him the same thing it taught me. The pressure and stress it placed him under meant that he wasn’t even learning anything academically anymore because the bullying continued in the classroom, where it was pointed out to him over and over again that he didn’t fit in, he wasn’t good enough and he couldn’t do anything right. All because he saw things differently and he didn’t blindly follow instructions like a zombie.
My daughter was in school from 2013-2015 and, despite the fact that she is a social butterfly, school became about who was her friend and who wasn’t every day. She told me how some children didn’t have friends and who were laughed at and teased for not fitting in. On any given day she could tell me who was her friend and who wasn’t and how she didn’t understand why someone played with her yesterday but didn’t want to play with her today with no explanation given.
Kids are way more broken today than they were 20 years ago. More children come from homes where their parents don’t have time to engage with them face to face and never get the attention they crave. Sure, they have all the latest toys and gadgets but snuggle time, tickle games and laughter is in short supply when they are shuttled from one activity to the next with screen time as their main companion.
When you add all that together, it doesn’t take rocket science to work out why they act the way they do when it comes to social situations. Children need to be taught how to behave. They need to have their questions answered and be guided towards the skills that will help them be compassionate, kind and emotionally mature.
If you allow the media, computer games and books to teach those skills, you are taking a huge risk. Have you looked at what kids watch on TV lately? Either they will start thinking that life is a singing, choreographed dancing Disney musical or they will think that slapstick comedy or toilet humour is the order of the day and start throwing cream pies in their friend’s faces.
Girls especially seem to pick up on the ‘drama’ and translate that into how they should treat the people around them. Even if eye rolling and ‘whatever’ seems cute to you when they are 5, it will soon lose the cuteness factor when they are refusing to listen to you when they are 15. TV is not real life. Nor are books like Sweet Valley High or Twilight. Unless you clue them in then you are setting them up for a life of disappointment and unrealistic expectations.
If boys aren’t taught how to treat girls. they will automatically assume that what they see on TV or in the computer games they play, is true to life. So they will start expecting every girl that catches their eye to obviously reciprocate their affections and do whatever they want her to do. The media has tried to convince us since the dawn of time that if you drink/eat/use/wear/buy this product, it will lead to a happy, fulfilled life where all your friends will hang out with you on this yacht in the sunshine where you will have the time of your life. Ja, we all know how that pans out, right?
So, I choose to home school my kids because I want them to be well rounded human beings who are able to reason and use logic to find a way of making a difference in the world. If they lack the ‘social skills’ they would get from being bullied on a daily basis then I’m okay with that. Instead, they can rather talk to grown ups they meet in the grocery store and in the library.
They can learn how to ask the right questions while being kind and compassionate. This will be far more beneficial than whether they were popular or not.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying that the way you are raising your kids is wrong. However, if your kid is a bully, please do us all a favour and find out why. My kids aren’t perfect and I still have a mountain of stuff to learn about being a parent (I never claimed to know it all). Please feel free to weigh in here and let me know if you think I have the wrong end of the stick.
Home schoolers, I’d love to connect with you and hear what you have to say about the topic. I am still very new to the home school game and probably haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg.