Today, I’m going to vent. I have to. This has been driving me nuts for a while now, and I just have to get it off my chest.
When I tell people we homeschool, or my kids say it, the first thing that comes out of just about everyone’s mouth is, “Well, as long as you make sure they are able to get socialization.” I bet you hear that, too, right? Yeah. Thought so.
I try to be polite and be kind, because I want my sons to be polite and be kind to people. But there comes a point where I’m just sick of it, and I’m at that point. My standard response now is a very snarky, “I said we homeschool, not closet school.”
Honestly, people! I get it – when you’ve been public schooled, you think that you need to go to public school in order to make friends and socialize. But the thing is, there are other ways to socialize, to make friends, to meet and interact with people of all ages, statuses, cultures, etc.
Homeschooling does not mean that we sit at home 24/7 and only see each other. We’re not locked in a closet with only a bare bulb and textbooks, armed with a gun and ready to hide out in a storm shelter at the first hint that the government is around. We’re not hunched over a Bible, memorizing verses and plotting how to be the most religious people in town.
We go out – honestly, we probably go out more than you do, if your kids are in public school. At the very least, we would make a trip to the grocery store once a week. But we also go to the library, the park, the lake, to the Home Depot Kids Workshops, to museums and movies and zoos and activities with our homeschooling group.
Speaking of the aforementioned homeschooling group – we get lots of social time from that alone. My kids hang out with kids of varying ages, making friends with kids their own ages as well as younger and older. They learn to lead, to follow, and to work or play side by side. I get to talk to other parents who face the same things I do, and we discuss various ways to deal with the issues that crop up and what we find works best for various situations.
And let’s be completely honest here: Do you know anyone who actually wants to deal with people all the time? Maybe it’s just me, but everyone I know has their moments when they just want to be alone. Maybe just for a few minutes, maybe a few hours, maybe a day or two or even a week, but we all need our down time, our time when we can just be alone and not have to be social and be friendly.
But when kids attend public school, they don’t get to curl up in bed and enjoy the day alone if that’s what they want. If there’s school that day, they’re stuck getting out of bed and going to school and being told to stop being so grouchy and grumpy and be nice – when all they really want to do is be alone. Who enjoys that?
Because we homeschool, my kids have the option to say, “you know, I just really want to hang out alone in my room. I want to read or watch TV or just do my schoolwork all by myself.” And they can do that. And when they get to do that, they end up happier and better off for it.
Now that I’m done defending our choice, let me address you, specifically, that person who implies that we are backwards, socially unskilled idiots because we homeschool. Here’s something for you to think about: you want to worry about my kids social skills when we homeschool, but what about yours? Do you tell adults who work at home that they need to get out and flex their socialization muscles or they will forget how to socialize? Of course not. And why don’t you? I’m betting you’re thinking, “Well, because that would be rude and insulting. ” Well, guess what? It’s just as rude and insulting when you tell me I need to make sure to socialize my kids.
I don’t make comments to you about how you should make sure that your kids aren’t hanging out with the wrong crowds at school or tell you that your kids won’t be prepared for the real world after they’ve spent 13 years in a classroom with kids that are the same age, asking for permission and hall passes just to use the bathroom. I could, but I don’t. I don’t because I respect the choice you have made for your children. I respect that you have made the choice you feel is best for them, and that you’ve thought about it and done whatever research you feel is necessary. I respect that my opinion, whether it is the same or different than yours, doesn’t matter because it’s your choice to make. So why, then, can you not show me and the rest of the homeschooling world, the same respect? Is it really asking too much of you? Because I don’t think it is. I really think you can handle it – I think you’re mature enough, intelligent enough and could be polite enough to show that small, simple amount of respect.
It’s a big world. Don’t let the “home” part of homeschooling confuse you – we take full advantage of that whole, big world that’s out there. In many ways, we are probably more familiar with much of it than you are. Stop assuming that my child will grow up to be an awkward, isolated adult that won’t know how to handle even the most basic of social situations. Stop assuming that I can’t manage to make sure my children have friends and time with other people. I can handle it just fine. The proof? They no longer bark at the mailman or howl at the moon.
Well, most of the time, anyway.