Anybody who has ever told someone that they homeschool their children knows that the inevitable question to be asked is: “What about socialization?” You know with that look of horror in their eyes that says only a moron takes their children out of such a utopian setting as public school. It’s close to being un-American!
I believe, however, that this is not the appropriate question, but not for the reasons that you might think. The daunting question for homeschoolers is NOT whether our children are under-socialized, but whether they are OVER socialized.
Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “If a woman’s place is in the home, then why am I always in the car?” This seems to be accurate for a lot of families. We take our children to baseball, to dance class, to the library, to piano, to writing class, and play park day. The church does not help a whole lot either. (I can say this because I am a pastor’s wife.) Youth group activities, small groups, Christmas parties, music practice, work days, potlucks, Sunday morning services, youth group, evangelism class, MOPS, worship team practice, Sunday school teachers’ meetings, and phone calls!
We haven’t even talked about doctors, dentists, optometrists, and orthodontists. And yet every single time we venture out to these “social gatherings,” there are PEOPLE there! Yes, you heard me. PEOPLE!! Those creatures that we are trying to keep from corrupting our children. It seems we come in contact with them almost every day.
For most families who have chosen to homeschool, we must find our own balance, our own equilibrium. For some families, this takes years to perfect. There seems to be different “family personality types.” Some are perfectly contented to stay at home and go hit the books. Others need more interaction. Every family is unique and distinctly different from the others. That is because God is very creative, and He is very versatile in what He does. He makes no two snowflakes alike; no two people alike; and no two families alike.
Sometime it is very difficult not to become judgmental about the method and “personality” of homeschooling that other families choose. This seems to be the time of year that we use to evaluate what and how and why we do things. Standing back and being objective about the systems and methods we use in our families might help us to improve our homeschooling.
- Are you too structured? Is it difficult for you to be spontaneous?
- Are you too spontaneous? Do you need to stay at home more?
- Are you pushing your kids too hard because you need the acclaim of others who say what a great mom you are because your kids are so bright?
- Do you need to be more disciplined in your instruction?
- Do you need to remember that the Bible is the textbook of life? Do you need to be more consistent to make this the core of your curriculum?
- Is your homeschooling boring? Do you just do textbooks?
- Is your school work caught up, but your house is unsafe to live in?
- Is your curriculum balanced, including fine arts and music, P.E. and theater?
- Are you living a godly, Christian life before your children? Do they see Jesus in you?
The most important socialization that we can incorporate into our lives is developing and maintaining a relationship with God. Ask Him about these questions. Make it a matter of prayer as to whether or not you are living a balanced homeschool life. He desires to show Himself strong on our behalf, but we need to ask Him. You can’t be over socialized when it comes to the Lord.
Copyright 2001. Mavis Irwin. Reprinted by CHEA of California with permission of the author.
This article was originally published in the January 2001 edition of HomeSchool News, a publication of the Lodestar homeschool group in San Joaquin County.