I was really looking forward to Mary’s first guest post on my blog. Homeschooling our kids means only seeing one side of the coin of course, as we are the parents who decided to home-school but have been to school ourselves. Mary, on the other side, used to be home-schooled. We had a short little conversation about it and she mentioned back then that she feels like homeschooling lets a child develop their inner self (Mary, I hope I understood it right!).
So I was excited to hear her side of the story, was eager to find out how she felt about being home-schooled. Hear more about it. Of course I was hoping for her to tell me, that it was the best ever and that she would not want it to be any other way.
Her post was different than what I hoped for. Not in a bad way. In a really good way actually as she mentioned something which was always so important to us: Although our kids are different, I don’t want them to feel different!
Mary pointed out that she had kind of a “super-hero mindset” until a certain day in her life. Triggered by the way she was brought up and being home-schooled. The mindset of being able to do anything and maybe even better and not making mistakes.
Her post was intriguing… As in so many ways I want my kids to think that they are great, that they can do anything they want if they put the right effort in it. I want them to grow up and believe in themselves, knowing that they can if they want. Of course I don’t want them to feel superior. But what is wrong in having confidence? Thinking that they are able to do something better than others? And I am not just saying that because of the homeschooling. I think every child should have this confidence. Only time will tell, if it is really true, if they will really be able to do something better than others. And time and life will teach them too. But why not give them this confidence?
I guess you also need to give them the key to handle rejection and failure. It is part of life. I just believe, that if a child is confident enough, without being cocky, they will be able to deal with everything later in life.
After I read Mary’s post I had a little conversation with her, as I was wondering where this “super-hero” mentality came from. I was wondering if she did any “after school” activities while she was home-schooled. It turned out that her parents liked to keep to themselves and that they were pretty isolated.
When I read this, there were so many thoughts going through my mind. I heard all those comments people made again and I felt taken back to my own concerns I had back then, when we decided to home-school. And there is one question that comes up again and again and again: “What about socialization?”
I remembered my worries. My biggest one was the idea of isolating our kids and of course the question about socialization. Interesting enough what gets mentioned to us all the time is exactly this. “Are you not worried that you isolate your kids?” or “How do you make sure your kids are socialized?”. I have mentioned a lot of my homeschooling issues in an earlier post already.
The day we decided to home-school we also decided that we will never isolate our kids. That we will do what ever it takes to “properly socialize them”. Whatever that means!
What does socialize your kids mean? Why do people really think, that kids who are not going to school and don’t have to face the peer pressure and maybe bullying, who don’t have to deal with a cranky teacher (I know, I know, there are really nice and good ones out there too) and with being neglected or ignored in the break will not be as social as the others?
There are tons of kids out there who are happy in school, kids who cruise through their time in school, never have an issue. But there are also tons of kids who have issues. Kids who get bullied, suffer from the peer pressure and even from their teacher. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve heard so many stories. Stories of parents who changed school because of incidents, stories of kids shutting down, changing personalities because of what happens in school. So you know what: How about socialization?
What does socialize your kids mean? I ask it again. For me it means that my kids can deal with other people in all kind of situations. That they know how to “move in a group”, that they understand group dynamics and hierarchies. It does not mean that they need to go to a regular school for this. It does not mean that they need to be in a child care starting the age of 6 months or that they need to go to an Early Learning Center.
It means that they can interact with younger kids, older kids and adults. That they are polite and have manners. That is what socializing means for me.
When we decided to home-school we also decided that it will be important to involve our kids into a couple of after school activities. We wanted them to mix with regular schooled kids. We wanted them to have a different influence through those teachers and instructors. And of course we wanted them to be involved in a group. We were lucky to find really good activities with great people. Our kids have made heaps of friends there and I believe they don’t stand out because they are not socialized.
But as we have been told, they do stand out because of their manners, about how they interact with the younger kids, how they interact with the adults and because of how they look after each other and their friends.
I think it is not okay to isolate your kids. It is not okay to keep them away from this world, as one day they will have to deal with it. You can not keep them from everything. Having said that, I truly believe that this has nothing to do with homeschooling after all. Just because you home-school doesn’t mean kids are isolated or not social. In the end it all comes down to you as a parent. To what you teach your child. The books and the different subjects are one thing. But life in general is another important part. And by keeping your kids away from the normal life out there, you keep them from learning those important skills.
I can’t wait to read more from Mary. Her side of the coin. And I don’t mind if it is different again to what I was expecting.