Socialization of Homeschoolers

Children Playing 300I mentioned a couple of days ago that we homeschool our children. One of the questions/complaints we often hear from other parents is about their socialization skills. Interaction with peers is an important step in socialization, so how will our kids learn social skills?

Sometimes on my grumpy days I ask: What kind of socialization skills?  Exclusion? Rudeness? Racism? Judgmentalism? Teasing? Bullying?

Or as the previously noted article discussed:  materialism?

I also mentioned that we don’t own a TV.  We forewent TV for any number of reasons, but one of them is that the programming — particularly the advertising — is just mean. It teaches us to preoccupy about possessions, which means to worry that others will judge us by our possessions, which teaches us that we should judge others by their possessions.

From there, the mindset metastasizes. We should judge others by their faces, their bodies, their hair; all of those correlate with money.  Think about it, at its most fundamental fashion is nothing more than a flaunting of wealth. After money, the judgmentalism moves to evaluations based on your family, and your friends.

So by starting with TV, we come to a point where all of the other kids, the poor kids, the homely kids, the clumsy kids, the minority kids, are left out.  TV didn’t invent snobism, of course.   But TV definitely exploits and fosters it.

TV is just rude, even the Disney Channel. When my son was in public school, the first time he came home and said “Duh,” I about wigged out. That’s when I noticed that kids say ‘Duh’ on the Disney Channel.

Watch the Disney Channel with a critical eye, watch how often amid all the seemingly innocuous and good-humored antics that there is a strong undercurrent of inherent intolerance, not through sins of commission, but omission. Where is the poor kid, where is the unfashionable kid, where is the shy kid, where is the ugly kid, where is the sweet but awkward kid?


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And that’s just the Disney Channel.

There are three general home school groups here in Acadiana:1)Acadiana has two different meanings, the strictest is the 8 parishes comprising and surrounding Lafayette.  The legal definition from the state Legislature is the 22 parishes of south Louisiana grouped around Lake Charles, Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux; note that, despite a lot of misconceptions, the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas are not included, both of which have quite different cultures. the Christian fundamentalist group; the Roman Catholic group; and the ‘secular’ group, or as I call them, The Nuts & Granola Group. My wife discovered and joined the last one, and it is wonderful.

The kids come from a variety of families representing different income and educational levels, but the children and parents are nevertheless extremely egalitarian. The moms (it’s all moms but we dads participate occasionally) are highly supportive of one another, and of all the kids. When a child is having a fit, or hurts one of the other kids, they swoop in, and very supportively and gently deal with it.

The kids tend to be a little nerdy2)‘Nerd’ used to be a four-letter word, now it’s a six-figure one. but highly creative and curious. If you think about it, however, what is a nerd but someone who is openly creative and curious?

If that definition is valid, then what repulsive dysfunction teaches our children to treat nerds as social pariahs?

The kids in our homeschool group are just so nice to one another. There are no cliques, there are no hard age barriers, there are only groupings defined by the current activity. They don’t judge one another, and they don’t exclude one another.  Their interactions are based on mutual respect and inclusiveness.

On occasion, I talk to homeschool parents from the fundamentalist group. For many, their goal is to insure that their children get the ‘correct’ education, and that the kids not be corrupted by infidels.  I have to admit, I come away from those discussions realizing that is exactly what I want.

It’s just for my wife and me, the correct education, the learning of the proper ‘faith‘, is one of curiosity and social inclusiveness.


Children Race, courtesy of Public-Domain-Image.com.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Acadiana has two different meanings, the strictest is the 8 parishes comprising and surrounding Lafayette.  The legal definition from the state Legislature is the 22 parishes of south Louisiana grouped around Lake Charles, Lafayette and Houma-Thibodaux; note that, despite a lot of misconceptions, the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas are not included, both of which have quite different cultures.
2. ‘Nerd’ used to be a four-letter word, now it’s a six-figure one.

4 Comments

  1. Ellen Connor

    Some of the most delightful young adults I know were homeschooled for part or all of their precollege years. Their mother and father were highly educated and inclusive, and have instilled a love of knowledge and evoke in their three kids. They are some my own adult kids’ favorite companions. What one achieves socially or intellectually from homeschooling depends on what the parents value.

    • Bookscrounger

      When I first heard of homeschooling I had my doubts. But then I met some kids who had been homeschooled and they were really sharp. Their parents were also sharp, and that explains some of it. But I think part of it is what I touch on here: traditional schools can kill curiosity, through the peer pressure I note in the comments on nerds, but also through hurtful educational approaches.

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