All right, this post may not make me very popular. However as a woman who worked in a daycare setting, nannied, and is now a Mama trying to figure out what we want to do about schooling I get tired of hearing the same arguments over and over. So I decided to share my thoughts with the world.
Let me start by saying we have friends who have kids in public school, private schools, charter schools, and homeschool. I am watching the whole gamut available to me for education in the United States. We have NOT made a decision about what we will do with Abigail for schooling yet. We are having lots of conversations with each other and friends about what they like and don't like about each option. This is where my thoughts come in.
There is this thought process that lingers out there that children need to be with their peers so that they will be socialized. I think it's a load of manure. Think about all the things that you must do as an adult to be a functioning part of society. Go grocery shopping, go to the bank, pay your bills, wait in line, make phone calls to set up appointments, the list goes on and on. How did you learn to do those things? Did some one sit down and give you a hand out on how to grocery shop, or did you learn by going to the store with your parent, helping her get the things on the list, put stuff on the belt for check-out and then helping to pay (and learning about money and making change)?
I'm going to assume it was the second thing. Whenever someone tells me I need to send my kid somewhere for socialization I respond with this illustration. Lets say a group of aliens show up and want to learn to speak English. Most ESL teachers will tell you that while you can stick them in a classroom and have them practice with each other, it goes much better if they are immersed in English. Sticking 20 aliens in a classroom with one or two teachers who walk around and oversee them while they try to figure out how to talk to each other in English is not going to get the quickest results.
The other thing that maddens me about this is that the things they are being socialized in are bizarre to me. Here's my other example. Two toddlers in a preschool classroom both want the same toy. The teacher hears them arguing over it. The response is a) one gets it for two minutes, then the other, and so on and so on. or b) if you can't share the toy I'm taking it away. Let's project that out twenty + years. My neighbor comes over and says, I don't have a car, but you do so I want yours. Do we take turns with it? Does someone come and take it away from me because I won't let them use it? No. Do we have people who we share our car with at times. Absolutely. Do I want my daughter to learn to share. You bet. But the example above teaches my child nothing about sharing and the way it works in our society. It's not a social skill lesson, it's a convenience reaction (let's stop the fighting the easiest way possible). My daughter is best going to learn to share by watching the other people in her life (parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and so on) share. When Abigail sees us let our friends use our car she is learning about sharing.
So let me follow my rant up with a couple of things. I whole heartedly believe children need peer interaction, and to learn how to obey adults outside of their parents. I don't think sending children to a preschool, or school with a regular classroom setting is bad. I just don't believe that this is how our children are 'socialized.' I mean in reality how is a child sitting in a classroom for eight hours listening to a teacher even a social setting. Their twenty minutes for recces and twenty minutes for lunch where they get to talk to their friends doesn't add up to much.
So next time someone tells you that they homeschool, or are thinking about homeschooling, don't make the socialization argument. It doesn't hold up if you put any thought into it. The reason you know homeschooled children who are socially awkward has less to do with them being homeschooled and more to do with them (likely) being either sheltered or from a family that is socially awkward anyway.
Just getting some thoughts out there,