Sep 4, 2009


One of the common concerns that you hear about homeschooling is that without being in school, with a mass of other children, that children cannot possibly become "socialized". Usually what people mean by this is that they are afraid that the children will not be able to function in public with other individuals outside their family, that it takes rubbing shoulders with a dozen or so people all within a year or so of their age.

I have always thought this somewhat absurd. When we want to train people (especially children) to be able to perform in a certain manner, we usually do so by having them do what it is that we want them to learn. If we want them to learn manners, we have them say "please", "thank you" and however else you desire their manners to manifest. When we want to teach them to wash the dishes, we usually have them wash dishes--first with us, then supervised, then on their own.

Yet we think that the best way to train children to work and get along well with people as adults is to stick them with a bunch of children? "Oh!" but people say "they are children themselves, and thus ought to spend time with other children!" I am not denying that children ought to be able to play with other children. What I am denying is that teaching them to get along with people their own age is good preparation for getting along with a wide range of people, age wise. And that is the goal, correct? How many of us, once we left school, mainly work and socialize with people exactly our own age? Look to your left and your right at work today. Would they have been in your class at school? Think of the people that you prefer to spend time with after hours...would they have been in your class at school?

Our attitude is that our goal is to raise our children to be able to hold their own no matter what the age of the people they are in company with. Older or younger, we feel that they should be able to treat them appropriately but comfortably, not feeling out of their league or bored or irritated.

I think we may have succeeded too well. Our children consider the whole world their friends. They are exposed to a wide range of people, from the dairy goat show world, to farmer's markets, to church. And they seem to enjoy people in general. Sometimes too well. When the cast and crew of "MarfaRed" was here for shooting, our children learned a lot. They also numbered them as 'friends'. So a month later when they heard that the producer and a crew member were returning for one last evening shot, they were all excited. You would have thought that their long-lost friends were coming. Roberto and Julian may have thought that they were coming for a quick shot...they didn't know that a nighttime game of "capture the flag" was in the plans!

Then again...when it came to Julian, I think that they thought that he WAS their age...not sure how I could have dissuaded them, other than perhaps the presence of the facial hair. Then did sort of seem like just having an older son drop by for dinner...

No comments: