As a homeschooling mum, the number one concern I receive from other parents is, “How will they learn how to socialise with other people?” For some reason, when you hear homeschooling, you might think of four walls with only mum and the child, 5 days a week.
But homeschoolers like to reply by saying, “Why do they call it homeschooling if you’re never at home?” Unlike school which has children in schools for 6-7 hours a day (with their friends and teachers), homeschooling isn’t the same. We may spend about 1-2 hours a day on solid work ,3 hours if you include the reading element (more for more mature children I assume). But the other 10 hours of the active day (not including sleep of course)… lets investigate that.
Recently we have had the pleasure of school holidays. “But you’re a homeschooler, surely it doesn’t affect you.” Well it does.
Normally, homeschoolers dislike school holidays because all the special places (museums, public pools, zoos, etc) are crowded and it is actually the time we spend more time at home. But school holidays are great for one thing… there are plenty of people who want to catch up with you. Our school holiday calendar was packed solid 2 weeks before school holidays began. Popular kids obviously.
So these school holidays, and especially this week, we caught up with people every single day. It actually surprised me how much socialising happened here.
We immersed ourselves in a group of homeschooling families. There were about 10-15 families that got together, and loads of children from different backgrounds, beliefs and ages. We saw our extended families; 6 cousins, aunties and uncles, overseas visitors and visited nursing homes. We met with swimming mates and friends we met randomly at various places that we somehow clicked with. We met with old friends that we have seen ever since our kids were sleeping newborns. We also caught up with adults who did not have children, and I witnessed how relaxed my children were socialising with them. We caught up with friends that went to kindergarten with our two eldest. We socialised with many friends from our local church.
Were there any difficult times? Yes. There were times when our shy child would have to approach a bunch of children and ask to play. And there were times when a disagreement would occur and they would have to work it out themselves.
But there are also beautiful times. There are times where the older children would help the younger children (unrelated children), including feeding them food and helping them climb equipment. There would be times when teamwork would naturally occur to satisfy a common goal. And the most important of all was seeing our children play, feeling confident about themselves and their relationships with their friends.
How long did these kids play for? The shortest time was 2 hours. The longest time was 8 hours. 8 hours of continuous, uninterrupted socialisation. It is beautiful, and I just love seeing my children so free, happy, confident and fulfilled.
As school holidays end and our so called pool of friends lessens, I am inspired by the friendships my children have formed in this journey thus far, and the choices they are making of the friends who make them feel happiness inside.
Yes, it is a lot of more effort on the parent’s part to ensure that their homeschool child receives the adequate socialisation. Importantly, it is really important to ensure that the children are socialised with peers of their age group, as well as all sorts of different age groups. It is also important that they socialise with a diverse group of friends.
But the most important thing for me, is that they are happy.