Scandalized at the very idea of homeschooling an only child, many concerned friends and family members rushed to remind me how big of a change this would be for my daughter. I tried to appease them with the reminder of how naturally social she already was, and how this would provide her with more chances, not fewer, to socialize in the real world.
“But she’s an only child, she won’t even have siblings to play with!”
I heard this exclamation too many times to count. I was, at first, thrown off by this type of argument. It was our first year of homeschooling and we’d just made the decision to take our daughter out of a wonderful private school, that nonetheless, couldn’t keep my 8-year-old’s attention. Every day, when I picked her up from school and asked her how her day was, I was met with the same exact response I’d been receiving since 1st grade: “Mommy, I hate school.”
What?! She was enrolled in the best of the best. The teacher only had 18 students and my daughter still felt ignored. Asking myself what socialization really was, I concluded that I could offer her more chances to live amongst real people and learn how to “socialize” myself. Thus, began the barrage of questions and concerns by our loved ones.
After the initial shock of the lack of support I was getting, I started to explain that my daughter had zero problems making friends and had been accused by her peers of being “too friendly.” What a perfect candidate for homeschool. The ones who struggle are not the ones who have great social skills already, but those who lag in social development (even then – I utterly agree that homeschool is still the answer). My point of view was very difficult if not impossible to get across.
“Sports! She’s in sports,” I argued. She was part of a peer group, which actually appeased a few. I grasped at any counter-argument I could find. She was going to be involved with a local theater group as well. At this, a few more concluded that it was probably okay then.
Still, no matter how many outside activities I put her in, or planned to, at the heart of the entire argument – even I had it all wrong. I knew it was going to be okay, I just couldn’t put my finger on why, just yet.
A few months into her new 3rd grade education at home, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of compliments I began to receive about my daughters maturity and social skills. What?! Social skills? Wait!
It wasn’t the sports, nor the theater group, it had absolutely nothing to do with other children. It was all about my daughter and myself. We had developed an amazing system of communication ourselves. It was key to me that we work together throughout our new adventure into home education. That very commitment to each other and to absolutely 100% open communication was the answer I had been searching for. Socialization wasn’t a problem that ever needed to be rectified.
To the outside parent/friend/loved one, it may seem like homeschool means sitting at home day after day, reading text books and never getting recess or a chance to play with other kids. How wrong they were. To us, homeschool is learning times a thousand. In every activity we do in a day, she is learning. We’ve gone back to the way I used to teach her, before there was even any formal education in our lives. It was a totally natural transition.
Her and I socialize and communicate on a level that few other kids her age could even attempt (except other homeschoolers). At the bank, the tellers are amazed at her ability to communicate with them, as if she were a customer. At the grocery store, she says “hi” and smiles to the checkers, even initiating conversations with them. The librarians smile at how well she understands and communicates throughout the checking-out-books process. Everywhere we go, she feels she is a part of all that goes on around her. So many children are taught to fear and conform to adults. I see my little girl learning to function amongst all kinds of people of any age.
As she continues to grow and learn about our society, she learns how much of a place she has in it. Her traditionally schooled friends never seem to think outside the box that is their classroom, because it isn’t convenient for the teachers. How is that possibly considered good socialization?
I have so much comfort in the knowledge and realization that my daughter doesn’t need to be stuck in an enclosed space, for a delegated period of time, with a group of kids exactly her age, in order to function. She is truly socialized in the community that surrounds her.