Socialization takes a hit

In the very good book Homeschooling for Dummies — yes, you better BELIEVE we bought it — the first chapter after the introduction is called, “Addressing the Buzzword: Socialization.” We are informed that every homeschooling naysayer will reach first for the following argument: That your homeschooled child will not have had the advantages of mixing with other children, and thus when he or she goes out into the world, it will be with the manners of a poorly trained chimpanzee.

It takes about five seconds of research to see that this is not so. (My friend Julia is a member of the Facebook group “I was homeschooled and I have your social skills right here.”) As homeschooling becomes more popular (or more necessary), options for kids together become more prevalent. For our part, my wife and I discovered a large group of homeschooled kids that meets once a week at a community center not too far away. Yesterday was Lea’s first time there. She was very excited to be “the new girl.”

She came home looking pissed off, saying, “I am never going back there.” My wife just shook her head.

It started off well — Lea found a couple of kids her age or younger to play with. But by the end, bigger kids had taken Lea’s shoes and were playing monkey in the middle with them. They had also taken Lea’s soccer ball — which was fine, actually; she had brought it to share — but were playing an over-the-top dodgeball game with it. The parents of these kids, like far too many parents, did not utter a single disciplinary word.

Even after ten years, my wife and I remain astonished that such parents exist. But they more than exist — they’re the majority: Parents who never reprimand their children in public, and possibly never reprimand their children, period. These people are a bafflement to me. Janinne and I, we raise our voices, we express anger, we make it NICE AND CLEAR when our kids have stepped over the line. So many parents sit on the playground bench, reading a book and barely looking up while their child hits another child over the head with that child’s own shoes. It makes us crazy.

Well. Maybe we’ll go back to that local homeschool group and maybe we won’t. There are others around. And even if not, Lea was on the phone with her BFF for an hour last evening, so I’m still not worried much about our daughter’s social skills.

The diary:

Reading: Humphrey, the Never-Ending Saga

Language: A bunch of homonyms worksheets that gave her no trouble at all

Math: More word problems. Turns out she only struggles with subtraction word problems; multiplication and division she breezes right through. Weird, right? Wouldn’t you have thought it would be the other way ’round?

History: Christopher Columbus, of course.

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One Comment

  1. braine
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    That’s socialization, though. How she overcomes that kind of situation, retains her sense of self and self-respect, and even teaches those other chimpanzees how to treat her, is the whole thing right there. I recommend starting by bringing two pairs of shoes, one of which has been soaked in lye.

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