What About Socialization?
Part 1: Socialization Begins At Home
Ahhhh, the dreaded question: “What about socialization?” Whether you are a new or experienced homeschooling family, this is probably the number one question you are asked, or are asking yourself. Hearing this question asked may put you on the defensive, make you feel very insecure, or make you excited but baffled about the many opportunities available to you during this homeschool journey. Hopefully, I can ease your worries while also giving you some helpful tips and advice when it comes to this necessary topic.
This very question about socializing our children was one of the first and number one questions asked by my own well-meaning family members as we decided to begin homeschooling. I knew that my children would not be unsocialized rascals, but due to the stigma of the past, surrounding homeschooling families, I really didn’t know where to begin to feel confident in answering this question.
IN YOUR HOME
Many times our choices to homeschool comes from a place of unmet fulfillment from an institution, a special family situation, or a desire to spend more time with our families. May I suggest that the family is the very first and most important way that socialization is met? You are your child’s example and guide to responding and interacting with the world around them. You have been communicating and meeting the needs of your children from the time that they were born or placed into your care. You and your household members have been helping your children navigate their needs and wants and have interpersonal communication even before they are at the age society deems them to be ready for formal education.
I firmly believe that the foundation of anything a child needs to learn and to thrive in the world around them CAN be taught within the home, and has been for thousands of generations. Lessons like: how to share, how to be polite, how to be responsible citizens, how to resolve conflict, and how to show empathy are all readily learned through the example of daily life and instruction.
Some examples of how social awareness and instruction can be facilitated in your home are:
- Helping take care of younger siblings or cousins: They are seeing the example of patience, care, and nurture. While it may seem as if they are just helping burp the baby, or entertaining one while you work,they are learning to be responsible for others. Praise them for their help and let them feel strong for being a caregiver
- Listening and paying attention during daily lessons: While they are “doing school, " they learn the important ethics of completing tasks and being diligent. Even if they are playing with legos or playdough while you read aloud, they are listening!
- Waiting their turn: We can revisit this at all ages (myself included). They are waiting for their turn for attention, instruction, and needs. Maybe the older ones must wait while you give attention to the younger ones. Maybe the younger ones are learning that they can play while you help the older ones. This is all beneficial even though it can feel like a juggling act.
- Serving others: Your children are constantly seeing you and your spouse serve them and each other. They also may be seeing this in multi-generational ways as you take time to care for elderly family members or your friends and neighbors around you. This will set them up for the realities of life and their future with their own family and friends.
- Helping with chores and household repairs: If you can involve your children, they will learn valuable life skills by getting hands-on around the house. More flexibility in your schedule means they will be around to share in the tasks of patching holes in the wall, changing a tire, installing a washing machine, and getting critters out of the attic (don’t ask!). Many times this means quality time with Dad or Grandpa if they are the ones who usually fix things up. However, mommas can be just as adept with a drill or saw!
God has designed the family to be a place of protection and learning. We all have the ability to offer that to our children. Taking life and learning beyond the four walls of a classroom can reap such rewards! If you ever meet a struggle or roadblock in teaching any of these interpersonal skills in your home, do not feel embarrassed to reach out to a trusted source within your family, church, or to a counselor. There are many books and resources available to you as well. You are capable, but you are also not alone!