I’ve written before about socialization, and how it’s not something that concerns me when it comes to homeschooling. Still, it’s the number one question/concern that comes up from other people. So I thought I’d try to explain a bit more about what socialization actually looks like for kids who don’t go to school.
It looks like groups of kids of mixed age groups hanging out together and having fun. Exploring together, directing their own play, coming up with their own ideas, and learning about each other. Homeschooled kids have endless time to spend with friends. There are no bells or timetables bringing them in from their play so they have plenty of time for forming friendships. They can socialize with kids of their own age or kids who are older or younger than them, learning to get along with and be comfortable around people of all ages.
It looks like close bonds formed with friends who they have chosen themselves for whatever reason they have decided. Not because of being sat next to someone in class or being the same age, but because they have found something in the other person that resonates with them.
It looks like field trips and shared experiences with friends…
…learning together and building upon each others knowledge.
It looks like teamwork and collaborative projects.
People think homeschooled kids miss out on the opportunity of working together with other children, but there are lots of opportunities for this. There are co-op’s and classes, but even just by putting a group of self-motivated learners together and watching their play you will notice all the times they work together on their own projects and learn from each other.
It looks like arguments and disagreements and practice in conflict resolution. Kids don’t always get along, we all know that. But the great thing about being there as a parent is you get to see just how competent kids are at working out their disagreements. And when things get a little too heated, parents are there to step in and help guide. There’s no need to separate kids or punish them for their immature behaviour and conflict, that doesn’t resolve anything. Instead they get to work through problems in their own time, learning valuable skills.
Interestingly, I’ve also never seen bullying of any kind at our homeschool meetups. It just doesn’t seem to happen. Possibly because young children have the guidance they need from parents before these kinds of situations occur. But there is also a lack of competitiveness and comparison among the kids. Everyone is accepted for who they are.
It looks like interacting with adults in the community when out and about. Being comfortable talking to them, and asking questions, and all the learning and opportunities that provides.
It looks like ample time for developing close relationships with siblings, parents, and extended family members.
And sometimes, it looks like staying home and enjoying a good book instead because you don’t feel like socializing today.