I cringe using the word “socialize” when it comes to home educating my children, because really it isn’t a problem. Yet it is one of the most talked about topics among homeschooling families. In part, due to those that do not homeschool thinking that “socialization” is a problem for those that home educate. Those that are new to homeschooling may even be apprehensive about taking the plunge for this very reason. Really, socialization isn’t what most people think it is and for those of us that home educate- it can be so much more.
What Is Socialization?
Webster’s definition: “The process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status.”
First, where does this say that this has to occur in a same age peer classroom that typically occurs in a conventional school, day after day?
Second, If one is “accumulating the knowledge of society through education and training” to achieve “adult status” why would subjecting them to large groups of same age peers be the “best” approach?”
Moreover, the current trend of “habits” and “beliefs” that is occurring in the U.S. school system is something that I want to guard my children from. The extreme bullying, gun violence, and sexual assault is out of control-it seems to have saturated the current school system and is quickly becoming a culture norm.
Thanks… but no thanks-I know I can do better and change the “new” cultural norm, in the process.
Real socialization is happening all the time. When you are engaging with your children and demonstrating to them how to behave, how to hold a conversation, how to be respectful to others, how to love and show kindness, how to put others before themselves and how to work with each other and not against.
How to make a friend by being a friend to them.
It can happen naturally within the family. It can also happen on errands-like going to the grocery store, the bank, the hair salon, or dining out at a restaurant.
Socialization happens all the time when our children are interacting in the real world.
What if they are extremely outgoing and craving a relationship with others?
raises hand) I have one of those.
I also prefer one or two really good quality friends and a decent book, this is enough “socialization” for me. However, I have an unconditional love for my children that isn’t confined by my own discomforts. It means that I have had to go out of my comfort zone of introversion and create ways for my social beings to make real friends.
At one point (already) my daughter, age four at the time, shared with me that she was lonely. She wasn’t even school age yet but she is truly one of the most extroverted little persons I’ve ever met. I listen to my kids, if they share something like this with me then I find ways to fill a need (within reason) until it is fully met. It took a lot of time, thought, consideration, and my personal dedication but I am happy to report that my children are thriving. Now I would like to share all of that hard work with you. I’ve come up with twenty different ways that I found to help my children to socialize (ugh-that word) or make real friends.
Ways To Socialize
- Join a homeschool co-op. (Ours meets every other Friday)
- Don’t have one near you? Build and create a homeschool cooperative.
- Find and go to community events hosting activities for children.
- The library
- City and County Parks
- Nature Centers
- Join a club (i.e. American Heritage Girl or Trail Life)
- Take group music or art classes
- Become active in the homeschool community, seek out other homeschoolers and host a monthly (or weekly) gathering.
- Join a sports team.
- Encourage your children to find friends in the neighborhood.
- Actively schedule time with cousins or other close family members.
- Find them a pen pal (homeschool facebook groups are good for this).
- Get them a pet, (I’m serious- ever hear of mans best friend?)
- Sunday school and a children’s bible study
- Post a “Seeking friend(s)” status in a local facebook homeschool group (Yes-I’ve done this more than once, and now the little girl is one of my daughter’s best friends)
- Church hosted children’s activities
- Take them to a gymnasium (our co-op hosts at one monthly)
- Roller blading or ice skating rink (another mom from our co-op organizes this every so often)
- Field trips to the Zoo, Museums, and science center
Honestly- I look at this list and I feel a little exhausted but at one point or another, we have done all of these things. I think as homeschooling parents we are in a unique position to meet our children’s social needs, which just means it rests on us to coordinate it until they can on their own. Now take this list with a grain of salt, use it as a reference. Your child may not even need half of these ideas, so don’t stress yourself out with doing too much. Get active and involved in a homeschool community, a little at a time until you find the right balance- don’t take on too much too quick.
Is there anything you would add to this list?