Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warnings for Homeschoolers: Socialization

This is the fourth in a series of posts about homeschooling. If you haven't read the first three, you may want to do that first, but here are a few theses about what I'm going to write both now, and in the posts to come:

  • Children must receive an education based on the Word of God.
  • Parents must be involved in their children's education.
  • I believe that if a person decides that, after wisely considering the options, praying, and researching, that they ought to homeschool their children, I am OK with that, and I wish them well. These posts are written in the spirit of graciously warning them about some perils in the path.
  • The key question: What is, in the will of God, the best option for providing quality Christian education to my children?
This is by far the most overblown warning offered by those who don't homeschool. The problem is that there are just enough examples out there to provide the anecdotal evidence some people want to see.

The simple fact is that young people in all sorts of educational settings—public, private, homeschool—range from the unnaturally shy to the abnormally gregarious. Most likely, they would demonstrate the same personalities regardless of the schools they attend.

And of course, for every example of a strange homeschool kid who doesn't know how to act around his peers, there will be another example of one who not only socializes well, but also interacts maturely with adults, with children—with people of any age.

This warning is a simple one: If you homeschool, take care to do two things.
  1. Give your children opportunities to constructively interact with others their own age, as well as others both younger and older than themselves. These opportunities could come at church, in Little League, with the neighbors, or in community organizations. It is true that kids should learn how to interact with others, and it is important that they get practice doing so. A well-rounded child should be able to interact with normal people younger, older, or similar in age to himself.
  2. Teach your children social interaction skills. Manners aren't dead; courtesy never goes out of style. Model proper interaction when your children are present. Critique what you view together on TV (where you will certainly see plenty of examples of how not to behave in social settings). Share suggestions at meals on proper table etiquette. Remind children that they need to consider the feelings and emotions of others.
Really, these things apply to all of us who have children, whether we homeschool or not: If we give our children these opportunities and teach them how to interact socially, they will likely do quite well.

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