Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What About Socialization?

· And anyone who learns discipline and responsibility will show up to work on time no matter where they were educated.

For the Last Time Forced Association is Not Socialization

The Smithsonian Institution’s recipe for genius and leadership:
1. Children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents.
2. Children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and
3. Children should have little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives.
H. McCurdy, “The Childhood Pattern of Genius” as quoted in The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.  
What is socialization anyway? Traditional school officials seem to think it is to learn to obey bosses, protect yourself from bullies, arrive to work on time, learn to deal with people different from yourself, and develop a sense of community and team work.
According to my dictionary socialization is, “The act of fitting for companionship with others. To make sociable in attitude or manners.”

The “fitting” and “sociable attitude” I desire for my children is for them to:
  • know and use good manners, 
  • have a strong sense of self-worth, 
  • be able to resist peer pressure, and 
  • be capable of communicating well with a variety of age groups and personality types. 

Homeschooled children usually score far better in all of these areas, (yes, studies have been developed to measure socialization, also). And, I want them to be happy and involved in their communities.
Parents at home with their child can teach and model appropriate manners. Children in school only see other kids’ ideas about manners, usually “Do unto others before they do unto you” or “Who can be the grossest?” Not my idea of very good manners. They will have to learn different when they reach the adult world.

In public school, I learned real fast not to look other children in the eye unless I wanted to fight. As an adult, it has taken years to unlearn this. In the “real world” looking someone in the eyes is polite, a sign of respect and attention. On the playground, it is the same kind of challenge as it is between two dogs; the one to look away first is submitting to the other. Only a very few people have the inner strength of personality to always be “top dog.” The rest of us? Well…

A homeschooled child does not spend six or more hours a day being torn down, picked on, and teased by other children and even teachers; what would equal verbal, emotional and even physical abuse in the adult world; (A recent study in California: 75% of all children have been bullied by their teacher! And we have all heard that 15% of children in daycare are bullies. That means that 85% are potential victims. And it doesn‘t end with the fifth birthday!).

Proud to say that I was home-schooled for quite some time; and while I may be socially awkward, at least I can read and write properly. Hahaha!I have often wondered how many abused wives got the idea that their lives are normal from the playground at school. We, as a society, tell our children “Well, that’s part of life. Learn to deal with it” while criminalizing the same behavior in the adult world.

I’ve got news for you; it doesn’t have to be that way! A parent-taught child receives a controlled, protected environment where they are encouraged to grow at their own rate, and are not belittled for the little differences that all human beings have from each other. Thus, most home-taught children have a greater sense of self-worth.

Since a home-educated child receives his daily approval from his parents he tends to form stronger bonds with his parents. He doesn’t have to give in to peers to feel accepted. This prevents peer pressure and peer dependency (The need to be with and be approved by others your same age, outside of you family, in order to feel like you have any worth. To not be able to be happy unless surrounded by those your exact same age.)

A homeschooled child is communicating daily with a wide range of people; parents, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, repairmen, store clerks, etc. A traditionally schooled child communicates with other children in their exact same age and socio-economic group (same income, same neighborhood, same school), when they are allowed to communicate at all. Most of their time is spent shutting up and sitting still so the teacher can talk. You certainly can’t have thirty children “socializing” at the same time while the teacher is teaching. Pandemonium.

Who do you think has better, more rounded communication skills?

Homeschooled children also have the advantage of being able to “shadow” adults. Traditionally educated children seldom have a male teacher and have no real opportunities to see what real men and women are supposed to be. They spend all day in an unnaturally regulated environment. They must assemble their ideas on manhood and womanhood from scratch or from the media and peers.

Homeschooled children usually spend a great deal more time with their fathers (due to flexible school schedules), as well as their mothers.

Girls learn to be women by being with a woman in real life situations. They learn how to recognize a good potential husband by seeing one (Daddy) in action.

Boys learn to be men by being with men. They learn what a good woman is by being close to Mom.

They both learn how to make a stable family by being in one full time.

Children learn how to handle, shall we say, “difficult personalities” by seeing their parents handle them. They really don’t have to learn these skills from scratch. They can glean the accumulated knowledge of preceding generations. Much the same way swimming is taught best, by example and careful instruction; not by throwing them in and hopping they don’t drown.

Expecting them to learn how to handle difficult people by being with difficult people is like trying to teach a puppy how to protect sheep by letting it run with wolves.

If children learned how to function in the adult world by being with age mates, wouldn’t God have had them born in litters, (like puppies, which learn about the adult canine world from each other before entering it at around six months)? Instead, we are mostly single births (like horses that enter the adult world at about two hours old and learn what they need to know from their mother and other adult horses in the herd).

A recent study of grown homeschool students asked them if they were “happy, very happy, unhappy, or very unhappy” with their lives. Homeschool graduates answered “happy” or “very happy” far more often then the general population.

The same study also showed them to be far more involved in community and volunteer activities than the general population (and 75% of young homeschool graduate adults vote compared to 46% voters of the same age of the general population!)

Colleges and employers are expressing a great deal of satisfaction at the quality of young adults coming out of homeschools. They are, generally prompt, respectful and know how to think.

Parents can provide the right amount of time developing friendship skills that they feel are necessary for their child through Sunday School, church clubs, Little League, dance classes, 4-H, etc. There is a greater danger of children being over extended and becoming peer dependent than “under socialized.”

Different children need different amounts of outside activities. What might be unbearably too little for one child might be way over stimulating and exhausting for another.

Most communities have homeschool support groups that get together for everything from park days to co-op classes. This is one of the most common sources for friends for homeschooled children and their mothers.

The true test of homeschooling, especially its socialization, is whether homeschool graduates would homeschool their own children. The survey mentioned above also asked this question. The vast majority said “yes” they are or will homeschool their own children.

By the way, in answer to the school officials;

· If you teach your children to obey you, the parent, (a necessity to teaching them), they will have no trouble obeying their bosses in the future.

· Most people learn to tolerate bullies, not stand up to them at school. They learn to stand up to them by watching mom and dad do it.

· A sense of community is best developed in the family and the “real” community, not some artificial human construct.

· Homeschoolers are exposed to a wider variety of people because they are not confined to a room of the same people the same age and socio- economic level as themselves.

· They learn better teamwork by working toward common goals within the family (clean the house, service to others, getting everyone a good education, etc.)

In summary, aren’t all humans being “socialized” whenever they are in the company of other humans, regardless of age and relation? The question, then, is HOW you want your child socialized, not IF. One mother summed it up by saying she was teaching her children at home to teach them to be leaders, not victims.