"What about Socialization?" If you are homeschooling, you have likely been asked this question a hundred times over. It seems to be the number one argument against homechooling. I will admit that when I began to consider homeschooling it was up there on the list of concerns for me. Being educated through the public school myself I couldn't imagine a childhood without lunch time in the cafeteria, music programs, recess, and science fairs. When looking back at my high school experience it became even more poignant. How could anyone subject their children to missing out on prom, choir, football, pep rallies, basketball games, and homecoming? Those of you with less than favorable high school memories may roll your eyes but many of these things are considered milestones and rites of passage in our society. When I began to visualize homeschooling I saw flashes of my children wearing high waters and not knowing how to interact with their peers. But, the thoughts and impressions I was having to homeschool did not dissipate.
As we approach our third year homeschooling, I must say that the aspect of socialization has been my biggest surprise. The social life of not only my children but myself has improved by leaps and bounds. My children attended public school until my oldest was in fourth grade. They had many friends at school and we all enjoyed their public school experience. However, they rarely saw their public school friends outside of class and never saw their church friends at school. It would be difficult to explain in words the rich social life that they have had while homeschooling. So, let me show you . . .
In order: Art Class at the Museum of Fine Arts, Homeschool Production of Peter Pan, Classics Family Book Club, Field Day, Homeschool Production of Wizard of Oz, History Fair, Field Tip to Moody Gardens, Science Class at the Museum of Natural Science, Swap Shop at the Zoo, National LDS Homeschool Conference.
So what about socialization? I can tell you that we have honestly never had more friends or more fun. My kids are having enriching experiences all year long. They are building lasting relationships, taking classes, going on field trips, participating in performing arts, and creating lasting memories. As for the traditional milestones and rites of passage that they will miss? We will replace them with family book club, field day, art and science museums, field trips and co ops. What is more, we will take an extra hour discussing as a family after scripture study because we can. We will stay up late if we want to and sleep in and make a big breakfast together. We will plan our activities around family time because we are in control of our schedule. We will read books and do projects together. We will work hard doing chores and taking care of responsibilities as a family because homeschooling is not an easy task and it requires the efforts of the entire family.
My children may not have the same kinds of memories of their childhood that I have of mine. But that doesn't make me sad anymore. The world is changing. We have more options. When we are faced with tough choices we can move forward with confidence, being empowered with the knowledge that we can create what we need out of life. We can build our own reality. We can customize. Homeschooling is not better and it is not worse than public school. It is different. It is what you make it. It can be wonderful.
Now, if I can get the academics down we will be set!