27 February 2014

Community at its Best

Bike Ride
The weather was beautiful, so the kids and I decided to ride the bikes to the playground and play on the play scape for a little while. I am so glad that I have an active, yet cautious toddler who knows her boundaries very well. It made for a relaxed time for Mami.

From the distance, I saw a Dad approaching with three children. They were, what I learned later, all under the age of five. I thought he was pretty brave for such an outing. He happened to be on the phone, and while he finished his conversation, his kids never left his side. I thought they were very well behaved to yield to the temptation of a playground so near by.

Once off the phone, the Dad immediately started the characteristic small talk that happens between parents on the playground. He apologized for his kids not playing with mine - they were too shy apparently. And then came the remark that prompted today's post.

"It's time that my kids start going to school to learn how to socialize better."


Of course, I had to answer in the only way possible for a homeschooling mom:
"My kids are home-schooled and have no problems socializing."

I am so tired of hearing people say that.
Our co-op making empenadas

First of all, we homeschooling parents are as much worried about socializing as parents with kids attending public or private schools - if 'worrying' is the right choice of word. Secondly, I think we don't realize that socializing doesn't only start with the school age, it happens since birth. Children have to learn to interact (well) with their parents, with grandparents, and siblings. When they are old enough, we introduce play dates, sports, and all sorts of things. The list goes on..... When my oldest was a single child, I was eager to have as many play dates as possible.

Since having three kids, two in active school, and one busy schedule, our play dates have become less frequent. That doesn't mean, we are not interacting with others. As a matter of fact, I feel we have become busier. Recently, I was asked how many activities we go to every week on a regular basis. Seven was the answer that caused a mouth dropped open. Yes, my kids go to seven different socialization opportunities during one week alone, every week. I do not think they are missing out on anything.

I love that my kids have a bunch of friends, all different ages. Some are older and great role models for my kids, some are younger and my kids get to be the role model. That teaches them to be respectful and caring at the same time. My children don't know what peer pressure is, and I prefer it that way. I also think that my children know well how to interact with adults. They are surrounded by them all day - although not as authority figures but as friends. They are not afraid to ask questions, to learn from them, or even to play with them.
Impromptu 'snowball fight' with tissues - it started as a minute-to-win-it game
Homeschooling is a personal decision, and when you homeschool, you have to get a bit more creative in finding ways to have your children interact with others. I don't think it's that hard but I do live in a very homeschooling-friendly state. We have tons of one-day-schools, co-ops, support groups, and other activities to choose from. In  general, kids are great at making friends easily, no matter if they go to school or stay at home.

So no matter in which situation you find yourself in, socialization is all around us. Every human being has to learn to interact well with others, may it be in our own family, with friends, and/or with authority figures. Homeschooling is not a hindrance but an opportunity to open our children's eyes to the world around us - just as any other more formal school setting is doing. Let's work together to make a better world. A world with great communication with each other.

Do you homeschool? Are you worried that your kids are not socializing enough?
Are your children attending public school? Do you have any issues with socialization there?
I would love to here from you.