sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

March 22, 2010

“But what about socialization?”
We have all heard this question before from family, friends or random people who feel the need to give their unsolicited opinion about our decision to homeschool.  The general public appears to be afraid that traditional school is a requirement for socializing young people.  I wonder do they believe that because we have chosen to homeschool, we never venture out of our house?  And do they believe that children who have graduated from public and private schools have wonderful social skills? Well yes, there are those that do and there are those that do not.  But do the schools teach social skills?  Does the act of putting children together by age or academic ability foster their learning of social skills?

And what is socialization anyhow?

Wiktionary defines it as, “The process of learning one’s culture and how to live within it.”

The Webster’s New World Dictionary (4th edition 2003) defines socialize “to make fit for living in a group”.

Wikidedia defines social skill as “any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others”.

And so based on these definitions, does traditional school prepare children to live within our society?  Does it teach them skills to facilitate interacting and communicating with others?  This could be argued both ways.  Yet, where else in society as an adult are you grouped with other people all born the same year as you?  Or people who all are at the same reading or math level as you are?

Living in society and participating in society, i.e. going to the grocery store, post office, library and  bank on a regular basis is clearly more “learning one’s culture” than sitting in a room listening to a teacher tell you what to do all day.  (I exaggerate to make my point.)

No matter how this issue is defined or argued, I now have hard proof that children can learn how to live in one’s culture without going to school.  My 12 year old son started his own social network online.  He had joined the social network group, Fun Without School, for children who are homeschooled and wanted to be able to do more on the site and so he created his own site.  He has decided his social network is open to more than homeschoolers.  He named it “Kidbook”.  Somehow my son, who has never gone to public or private school, is learning to live within his culture.  Amazing!

He created his network on Ning (like Fun without School) and it is a private by invitation only site so that the general public can not see it nor join.  He invites homeschool children to join and to invite their friends and cousins- even those who go to public and private school.  I am a member on the site as well as a few other parents we know.

Added note (August 28, 2010):

When Ning decided to cancel their free service, my son researched the other options, moved his website and notified everyone on the site of the change.  I did not recommend this or instruct him to do this.  Somehow he learned this on his own.  In fact, he was the one, assisting me with learning the options and changes happening with Ning.  Who says we need to “teach our children” anything, let alone send them to school for socialization.  They learn by living.


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