by Claire Richoux Herbert
"What about socialization?"
"Don't you want your child to have friends?"
"You don't want your child to be socially awkward, do you?"
These are just a sampling of questions that homeschooling parents (myself included) face quite often. Some of the questions come from a place of well-meaning, a desire to understand something unknown. Other times, these questions feel like an inquisition conducted by self-proclaimed socialization experts. It is easy to feel defensive in such situations, allowing venom-laced sarcasm to ooze from your pores. I get it. I have been there, done that.
The socialization question is typically the first follow-up question once someone finds out I homeschool my son. It comes with the territory. I whole-heartedly admit that in answering such an intrusive question during a cross-examination encounter with strangers (and non-strangers) I have more than once answered back with "Well no, I don't want my child to be socially awkward like you appear to be." Maybe not the nicest way to respond, but my decision to homeschool my son and his subsequent social skills are not up for debate. With that being said, my son is very social. He will talk to anyone and everyone. He makes friends wherever he goes. The homeschool children I have met are the same way.
We are involved in a large homeschooling community with like-minded individuals, from all walks of life. We show up to an event, the adults stand back, and the kids just start playing together. Amazing, I know. Not only does my son have activities at least 4 times a week with other kids in a variety of ages, but every time my son is in public he interacts with other people while practicing his social skills. Granted, not every encounter is productive nor pleasant, but those situations are used as learning experiences. This is made possible by the fact that the world is our classroom.
How you handle the socialization issue is your personal choice. You can explain yourself as little or as much as you want to others. Keep in mind that most people are satisfied with a quick, simple explanation of your situation; others, not so much. The point is, do what works best for you and don't allow yourself to get bogged down by other people's issues on this matter. just remember, a little sarcasm dipped in honey goes a long way.
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