Jun 26, 2011

Friendships and the dreaded "s" word

- the dreaded "s" word in homeschool life. Without a doubt there has never been an initial conversation I have had with strangers about homeschool that hasn't included "what about socialisation?".

It was my greatest fear before pulling the girls out of bricks and mortar school. I had just swallowed that line that kids educated at home are in danger of becoming...well, unsocialised.

Seen the light
Ha! No longer. In fact, as a homeschool parent the other thing I know the other parent will say to me when we first meet is how unhappy they are with their child's school social situation..."she is being bullied and the teachers won't address it" or "have you seen how horrible kids are to each other, even in Kindergarten?" or "I don't think the teacher understands who my child is, or wants to". Followed by "but we all have to get used to that, don't we, ready for life at work".

Do we? I don't follow that line of thought. 

In fact, adults leave jobs where their bosses bully them, or when they don't like their colleagues. Adults who are emotionally healthy leave partners who control or abuse them, will choose to leave fair-weather "friends" who gossip about them or who only talk to them some days but not others.

Why do we expect children to put up with this behaviour in their daily school relationships?

What is that teaching kids about adult relationships?

We have two daughters who are very well "socialised". In school, they were surrounded by buddies, had the choice of being with one kid or another, had lots of play-dates and party invites. They had been very compliant with sitting down, lining up, putting on their shoes and socks when told to, and saying please and thank you. 

Socialisation begins at home
Now they are at home, little has changed. Except for putting on their shoes : )

We don't expect them to make friends with kids who are nasty to them, or ignore them. In fact, one of my proudest moments as a parent was overhearing July say to a child trying to push her around "Don't do that. It isn't your turn. You are being mean." The other kid backed off.

Live your truth
Mike and I really try to walk the talk. We spend time with other families like ours - with friendships between all the parents and all the kids. Ages of kids or gender aren't an issue. With our own adult behaviour we aim to teach good friend skills - taking turns to listen, being honest about feelings, supporting different ideas, learning together and having fun!

We are also out a lot in the week with kid activities - drama, circus, piano, kids choir, Nippers, and yoga - so there is plenty of opportunity to have those -  bumping into one another, team work, hanging with kids you don't really like - experiences to work through.

Thanks lovely people!
It means everything to have friends and family who support your ideas, and choices. A glass of wine over a delicious lunch with kids running around frenetically, or at the end of the day, tired kids bundled together on the lounge watching a movie...great moments.

Love of a good sibling
The hidden benefit of homeschool? Watching your children learn to work together, take turns, decipher codes together, assist in science experiments, listen to the other's opinion, conspire together in chirpy ways - I had not anticipated the happiness there. 

Whether you homeschool or not, strong relationships between siblings is a bond to build and treasure. Truly good "socialisation".

You may also enjoy this funny article on homeschooling socialisation.

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