Homeschooling Families Are Solving the
Problems of School Socialization
By Linda Dobson
Bonding is a nonverbal form of psychological communication, an
intuitive rapport that operates outside of or beyond ordinary rational,
linear ways of thinking and perceiving.
– Joseph Chilton Pearce in Magical Child
Interest-initiated education, an approach used often by homeschooling families, develops universal life skills, in part, because your child takes just one or a few interests at a time and dives as far to the depths of each as he can handle. The fine art of building relationships, what many mistakenly refer to when they use the term “socialization,” likewise thrives from the focused, in-depth experience available via homeschooliing.
Let’s start from the premise that a child cannot love and respect others if he does not love and respect himself; he cannot bring forth what does not exist inside. With homeschooling attention to personally satisfying living and learning, your child grows receiving a steady supply of internally produced, positive affirmation. Consistently reinforced by experience and the warm, responsive homeschooling environment, he never loses love and respect of self.
Homeschooling Eliminates Through the Irony of School Socialization
Now he’s got something – love and respect. Now he can spread it around! And he will. But consider this societal irony. We give young children a 5-piece puzzle before we throw 200 pieces at them. We let them write a sentence prior to requiring a paragraph. We figure, rightly so, that mastering the relatively simple addition must precede calculus. Yet when it comes to the “S” word – socialization – we practice bigger is best (despite much evidence to the contrary). Our five year-olds (and, in an increasing number of cases, two and three year-olds) must hobnob in a 200 piece social puzzle. Talk about your shock treatments!
If it makes sense to conquer the sentence first, if it makes sense to understand addition before calculus, it’s not that great a leap of logic to conclude that, initially, a smaller socialization puzzle makes sense. The skills of cooperation (working as a team), along with etiquette, give-and-take, and polite conversation, are acquired more easily in the kitchen than on the playground. Here your child gets the time and attention necessary to master the small socialization puzzle, gradually moving on to more challenging encounters in the greater community as she acquires the skills and strength of nervous system to handle more pieces.
The slower, more gentle entry into the art of socialization gives your child a smaller field on which to shower his love and respect. All members of this more manageable field receive a nourishing amount which fills their cups. They may then shower more in return. This rewarding cycle becomes less and less likely as the size of the field the child is expected to cover increases. If the field grows too large prematurely, no recipient gets enough love and respect. They become such scarce commodities there is no love and respect to return, and the nurturing cycle screeches to a halt.
Our institutions still give lip service to the family as the first and most important building block of society. But by destroying the natural cycle of love and respect inherent in family life through their demands that children “socialize” in artificially inflated institutional settings, they are contributing to the destruction of society itself.
Through homeschooling, you and your children have the opportunity to broaden and crystallize a few relationships, the ones that strengthen family. This includes the relationship between parents, between parents and child, and relationships among siblings. Now, don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling is not a miracle cure-all for sibling squabbles. (Sorry.) But you’ll find that the frequency and intensity of disagreements decline as brothers and sisters, living the homeschooling lifestyle that allows them to have more in common, get to know one another better and build mutual love and respect.
Expanded Socialization In a Meaningful Way
Relationships also extend beyond other people to the more encompassing aspect of traditions, customs, and history. America has always enjoyed a rich heritage of diverse cultures, but doesn’t celebrate them on a level playing field. Our education institution has, of late, made strides in this direction but, once again, in a meaningless manner.
The contributions and customs of ethnic groups are being compartmentalized, tacked on to the rigid schedule. There they stay, supposedly equal, definitely separate. (Black History Month and Women’s History Month are examples of this treatment.)
Even national holidays, like Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and Columbus Day, are no longer celebrated on the proper days. They mark, instead, three-day weekends for government employees. This was a government policy change which, through government’s pervasive control of Americans’ lives, dictates much of the American families’ behavior, even down to when we plan vacations, parties, visits, and surgery. (Let’s have everyone travel the country’s highways and skyways at the same time – sound like a prescription for troubles?)
Your children can utilize homeschooling’s freedom to integrate any and all celebration that holds personal significance. This includes customs and traditions school schedules force you to forego in the name of compulsory attendance laws. Conversely, if you desire, you can “school” right through Christmas and Easter, taking vacation at a time more appropriate to your heritage. You don’t have to participate in three-day weekend traffic jams, either!
Of course you realize that when learning and life are one and the same, you’ve less need for “vacation” as celebrations fit the family’s rhythm like a hand in a glove. Following your hearts and souls instead of a school schedule, your relationship to that which has gone before – that which has helped shape you and influenced your environment and your thinking – becomes knowable. What a valuable contribution to an education that recognizes knowledge of one’s Self as essential.
Homeschooling Families Are Solving the Problems of School Socialization
Relationships are too integral a link in the chain of human lives to be tampered with. Time and time again homeschooling parents acknowledge preservation of their family relationship as a most important benefit of their educational choice. Here is an example from a letter I received:
I want to thank you for the article you wrote…several years ago. When I came across it for the second time (I had saved it, just in case), our public school experiences had deteriorated to the point where my husband and I said, “If other parents are out teaching their kids, so can we.”
Three years after that turning point we are a closer, happier family. Homeschooling is a better way of life. Thank you!
Homeschooling families are not ignoring the “socialization” problem. They are solving it.
They have rediscovered the key to social relationships: Build them one step at a time. Your family is your child’s 5-piece puzzle; her single sentence; her addition basics.
Isn’t Mother Nature smart?
What do you think would happen to the bullying epidemic if all children were allowed to grow in this manner?