This post goes out to all you veteran homeschoolers.
"But what about SOCIALIZATION?"
According to my research, this question is the single most irritating part of homeschooling. Forget crabby kids and dirty diapers...
I wanted to take a stab at this issue, head on, so bear with me.
Being relatively new to this homeschooling thing myself, I believe I can relate fairly well to both the mainstream way of thinking, and the slightly more rebellious.
The conversation almost always begins relatively blandly. Let's paint a scenario. Church. Two people in conversation while volunteering. After the usual introductions, the "So, what do you do? Do you guys live nearby?" cycle of smalltalk begins. It's not hard to be agreeable and nod smilingly throughout a conversation like this. For the most part you're really not talking about anything at all! Occasionally, however, someone might ask, "So what school do your kids go to?" It's a relatively bland question, unless it seems, if the response is, "Oh, well actually we homeschool."
SUDDENLY, a REAL conversation begins. Interest is piqued.
What about homeschooling is really so shocking? Well everything, if you're in a mainstream frame of mind. Dozens of thoughts and questions flood a public schooler's brain. But the one that almost always comes out is, you guessed it, "BUT what about SOCIALIZATION??" Sometimes this question is truly pure in intentions, sometimes it's being regurgitated--something they've heard in response before, and sometimes the real meaning is, "How are you going to prevent your children from becoming antisocial freaks?"
I was planning on sending my girls to public school up until about a month ago. So I know all too well about the thoughts and questions and doubts regarding this homeschooling thing. I was as much a critic as I was in admiration of this way of life. My main concern was with my own hypothetical shortcomings as a teacher. Honestly, how could I be qualified to take on the responsibility of educating my children? I didn't go to college for this--in fact, I'm a bona fide college dropout!
It wasn't until I took the plunge that I really started to examine the validity of these concerns.
My resolutions go something like this:
"Ya, I'm not a college educated teacher, but you can't tell me that I can't do a better job catering to my two children's needs and aptitudes better than a teacher with 24 restless children in her care."
(How will I know what to teach?) "If you've done any research on homeschooling, you'll uncover an entire subculture filled with people who have enormous talents. There's no shortage of brilliant curriculum. I will choose the ones that fit our family best."
(What about ME time?) "Well, I don't have much of that to begin with, but ultimately, its not about me. I'm sacrificing some of me to benefit them. I think that's what most of us are striving to do anyway. I always find more peace trying to be my kids' hero than I do trying to be my own."
And somewhere near the VERY bottom of my list, I do address the socialization issue. My best friend put it this way: (in regards to awkward homeschooled kids) "Awkward homeschooled kids usually come from awkward parents." It's simple but so true! If you went to public school, you know that there are awkward kids there, too, right? I can name every socially awkward kid in my graduating class, because, ya, they did stand out. The same holds true for their socially awkward homeschooling counterparts! How would you know a homeschooler from a public schooler unless they made a proclamation? Awkward kids happen. Period. Let's keep in mind that these people probably had a hand in developing the computer you're staring at, along with countless other developments in history.
(As for social exposure...) "My kids have friends in church, playmates at the YMCA, family friends, and absolutely awesome mentors--people who I'm excited get to have a part in shaping my children. I can assure you that my kids will have no shortage of opportunities to be 'social'."
(Why would you want to homeschool?) This is something I've been turning over for weeks. What's going to be my response? I want something quick, unlike this blog post. Something a bit witty, and something that shows that the topic is open for discussion, but that I'm firm in my standing. So far, I've got these responses: "We want our kids to be REALLY smart." And, "The schools in our area just aren't all that great." And on the somewhat more rebellious side, I'd like to say, "We're hoping to turn our kids into weirdos," "I just never want for my kids to leave me." I think most fitting, though, is "Homeschooling allows us to help shape our children into the people God wants them to be."
And you just can't touch that.